Forest Floor

Getting ready for my show “Forest Floor”, July 29 – August 28, 2012 at the Shenkman Arts Centre, in the Trinity Gallery, City of Ottawa. I will be displaying eco printed art cloth and paper.

First up is a collection of ten eco prints on watercolour paper, variously sized: 8″x 10″, 9″x 12″, 11″ x 14″ and some irregular. The leaves were collected and printed in fall 2011. The colours remain vibrant, and some have even developed further depth. One of my research questions last year concerned print longevity. I am satisfied with these results and feel comfortable offering then to the public.

1. Cotinus coggygria, chokecherry, Japanese Maple, ginkgo


2. Blackberry, marigold (tagetes), catalpa pod


3. Alder, Japanese Maple, ginkgo, blackberry

4. Cotinus c., Japanese Maple, ginkgo, alder


5. Sweet Gum, Japanese Maple, ginkgo, cotinus c.,


7. Sweet Gum, Japanese Maple, cotinus coggygria



8.Sweet Gum, Japanese Maple, cotinus coggygria


9.Sweet Gum, Japanese Maple, cotinus coggygria, alder.


10.Sweet Gum, Japanese Maple, cotinus coggygria, alder.


Also in July, two of my embroidered art pieces purchased by the City of Ottawa will be on display at city hall in the City of Ottawa Gallery, Permanent Collection. Pics next post!

Thanks for following





Eco printing the chuppah 5

My garden (the one the Bride grew up loving, but, er, not actually ever having worked in) has supplied all the plant materials (except Sweet Gum and Japanese Maple) for this collection of eco prints which were completed mostly last summer and fall. Some dried and frozen plant materials have been printed this winter. The USDA zone for an Ottawa garden is 4 while Canadian zone classification puts it at 5A, so taking garden micro-climates into account, one can make reasonable guesses about the range of dye plants comfortable here.

Sumac berries bundled in silk habotai


Rose leaves and tagetes marigold on lichen dyed vintage kimono silk fragment

Perennial geranium on silk habotai
Perennial geranium on silk habotai, modified by iron


Coreopsis verticillata (reds)and tagetes marigold calices and petals (greens and yellows) on silk habotai

Perennial geranium (yellow-greens), Golden Rod (yellows) and Red Cabbage (blues) on rusted silk habotai
Red Cabbage (blues) and tagetes marigold petals and calices (oranges and greens resp.) on silk habotai
Orange pekoe tea (blacks and browns), rooibos tea(rusts), safflower petals (yellows), Red Cabbage (blues) on silk habotai. All from the grocery store.
Purple Sandcherry and Purple Basil on silk broadcloth. Blues and greens.
Oak, Japanese Maple, Sweet Gum, Cotinus Coggygria (dark greens) and eucalyptus cinerea “Silver Dollar” (yellows) on silk broadcloth. No idea where that pink came from.


Note on the colours: I used a Canon Rebel SLR set at fully automatic, then the “enhance” in iPad photo edits. I find the colours very true to life.

Next time: If my new computer arrives this week, I can share some pics of the garden from last summer and fall. It is hidden under snow right now.

Eco printing the chuppah 2

Sorry folks – learning to use iPad with Blogsy for blogging…hmm..

Here are pics of plant materials I collected in Savannah and Charleston a few weeks ago; in the prints on the chuppah, they represent the Southland, home of the Groom:

Southern Magnolia



Sweet Gum

Lichen fallen from Live Oaks…but what kind of lichen and how to process? Have to check Karen Diadick Casselman’s book “Lichen Dyes: The New Source Book”

Fig leaves from trees known in Israel, (the Groom’s spiritual -and one-time geographical – home), from a plant in my house:

…and Silver Dollar eucalyptus that printed the yellows and oranges shown below and in my last post:

…plus another type of eucalyptus (what kind?) gathered from a park in Tel Aviv:
A fig and eucalyptus bundle on silk organza:
These four silk organza bundles look yummy, like Vietnamese rice paper roll ups! The four finished panels (16″ x 72″) will form side flaps on the chuppah:
After unbundling, the eco prints on the silk panels looked like this:
And this is the eco print of the Sweet Gum, magnolia and camellia leaves (above) on silk dupioni


Next time: blue, blue, blue


Eco prints on silk with eucalyptus, Rooibos tea, Red Cabbage and fall leaves

This time my eco prints are on some longer pieces of silk charmeuse, silk and wool mixture (80-20) and a small piece of silk twill.  Two lengths of  silk – wool, 24″ x 100″ were pre-mordanted in 25% alum , and the charmeuse and twill were post-dye mordanted in a 25% alum bath…am hoping for the best because I made a mistake in thinking that these two had been pre- mordnated. The collection:

From the left: 1. Sweet Gum and Japanese Maples on silk twill; 2. “Silver Dollar” eucalyptus on silk-wool mix bundled over cherry branches; 3. Red Cabbage, Rooibos tea, blackberry vine and leaves, dried tagetes petals and black tea (Taylor’s of Harrogate “Bungalow” blend) on silk-wool bundled over some very old iron rebar 4. Japanese Maple, Cotinus Coggygria, Sweet Gum and red Chokecherry bundled over copper. All steamed for at least an hour; the eucalyptus bundle was steamed for over three hours.

Some close ups and some details:

The sought-after reds from eucalyptus have arrived here in small measure, in stripes, outlines and spots here and there, adding sparkle and vivacity to the oranges and chartreuses of the leaf and stem prints, as touches of red are wont to do. I used the whole eucalyptus branch (from the florist) and like how it looks printed, better, in fact, than  isolated ovals printed from leaves torn from the stem . 

But to obtain red prints of the whole branch? My understanding is that I need  to soak the leaves several days before printing them; to use dry as opposed to fresh leaves; and to be patient while they cook, under steam or in a dye bath of water. Longer than other leaves…that means over two hours, for sure. Next time.  Meanwhile, chartreuse and orange with just splashes of red will do nicely:

I love the broken-up look of the leaf prints here. That effect comes from how I folded the cloth over the branches. I like how the red dye has drawn lines around the oranges and yellow-greens of the eucalyptus leaves in places and filled in small parts  of the print but without colour blocking the whole area. More Monet than Morris again!

I scrunched up the length of silk to get the photo – I like it better than the long “table shot”. You can see the incredible variety in the marks made by the dye stuffs and know that no two areas will show the same sets of marks or colours. Blues from the cabbage, greens from the marigold mixing with the cabbage; greens from the blackberry; rusty brown red from the Rooibos tea; blacks and dark greys from the black tea and the iron rebar; yellows and oranges from the dried tagetes petals, of course.

A couple of detail shots:

Great detail of the blackberry and the iron rebar.

Rooibos (“Red Bush” in Afrikaans), red cabbage and tagetes meet and mingle.

A range of gentle blues and greys from Japanese Maple, soft browns and ochres from Sweet Gum and more blues from Cotinus Coggygryia (I think I have misspelled that last word a hundred times in this blog – just can;t make it stick in my head… better stick with “Smokebush”… I can spell that…)

And a detail:

The darker blue values are from Chokecherry leaves (burgundy red all year) and the darker browns from Sweet Gum.

Next post: More eco prints on watercolour paper.

Honour Roll for this post:

Why, India Flint of course, the Great Queen of Eucalyptus Dye lore.  Her book on eco prints has taken me on this fascinating journey of discovery.

Eco prints with Sweet Gum on silk broadcloth

The Sweet Gum tree (liquidambur styraciflua) is new to me. I found one in the National Capital Arboretum in Ottawa. The leaves are palmate and maple-like, and in a lovely range of fall colours,  displayed here on a stack of eco prints:

I bundled Sweet Gum leaves into silk with a few eucalyptus (round Baby Blue and oval Seeded Eucalyptus) They printed in a beautiful range of layered colours: yellow, oranges, browns, greens, greys – even dark blues. And a tad of chartreuse from the oval euc:

The leaves are most elegantly palmate, with long tapering points.This leaf eco print looks as if it has been stitched on with tiny dot-like stitches…and a companion print is eucalyptus seed:

An astonishing range of colours from Sweet Gum on alum-mordanted silk broadcloth:

The silk is new, not vintage. Next I will try eco printing Sweet Gum on vintage linens from my stash, some previously (this past summer) eco dyed one colour all over with carrot tops, marigold, hibiscus, apple bark and others; then perhaps with different mordants, pre-and post eco printing, to force  other colour changes.

Eco prints with Black Walnut, Eucalyptus and Catalpa Pods on silk, wool and vintage linen

So the Black Walnuts were steeping in a plastic bucket outside on the deck, with another bucket of dye (marigold) on top to keep the squirrels and the raccoons out.


 Only a mess and 25 walnuts left… that hairy, healthy squirrel culprit:

So I tied the walnuts up in a vintage damask  linen tablecloth and simmered them in a dye pot of their soaking liquid:

I left the linen soaking for several more days because walnut dye does not colour deeply on linen but a longer steep can add depth.

Next tried was the walnut dye on wool,  a vintage (sallyann) sweater, part lamb’s wool and part wool jersey, with the seams cut out.  To make the eco bundle, I layered on Seeded and Baby Blue Eucalyptus (from the florist: I can’t grow eucalyptus in my USDA Zone 4 garden so  I cheated) as well as some  rusty nails and bits, then rolled the sweater parts over fat twigs, copper pipe, even catalpa pods and eucalyptus stalks; then  tied each bundle  up with lots and lots of cotton string wound round and round to make lots of string marks; steamed a while; then dunked them all into the walnut bath, leaving them to simmer at 160 – 180 degrees for an hour or so:

The outside of the wool bundles took on the dark brown of the walnut dye with string resist marks. The inside of the bundles took on dye leaks in paler browns and the eucalyptus dyed yellow;  the rusty bits dyed black..and one other bit was an acorn cap – it made the circle print. More:

Yellow eucalyptus prints, brown walnut with string resist, and – ta da! -a Red Ornamental corn print on the left.  I wrapped one of the wool fragments around this ear of dry red corn to make the eco bundle:

Even after steaming/soaking , the corn kernels remained dry enough for use in other bundles.

Here are the catalpa pods – they  print dark red  brown. I used them to wrap the textiles around as well as for printing: 

Marigold -dyed silk bundled over several catalpa pods: 

And after steaming for an hour:

A detail look:

PS. Do not wrap the bundle in weird synthetic threads as I did for the catalpa pod print: the thread was melted by the steam and then bonded to the silk -I  had to scrape it off. 

 Next posts will be about eco prints with Sweet Gum, eucalyptus and maple – plus eco prints on water colour  paper.