Walnuts Continued



It’s finally time to get to that benignly-neglected walnut stash that has been fermenting in a dark cupboard in my studio since the summer of 2015.

At Canadian Thanksgiving in early October, I posted a few photos here of a quick dye/ink made with a few freshly foraged green walnuts that obliged by producing the above-pictured measure of dye.

I learned from my research, however, that the best walnut colours in terms of fastness  can be had from walnuts that have soaked for a year, water-covered, in wooden casks. Now my green walnuts had been soaking for three years in big glass jars, so neither extra tannins ( from the wood) nor oxygen (which is believed to optimize the dye characteristics) entered the glass jar as happens with wood casks.  One might expect bad smells and molds after all that time, too, but there were none of either. My three-year walnut liquid had simply  become a thick dark brown potage smelling slightly of the fall forest. I wonder if fermentation prevents the mold that walnut ink is reputed to harbour? Time will tell.

To make this batch of  walnut colour, I put half a potful of the mushy brown ferment (along with the still-hard nuts in their shells) in the slow cooker, covered the sludge with water and heated this for an hour or so at  80 – 90 C. After straining and filtering the liquid, I cooked it down by half until it was sort of a bit syrupy. The dye looks like this on watercolour paper:

The dye liquid, cooked down, was then put into wee bottles ( with some gum arabic added to ink it up) and  finished with walnut-dyed tags and labels:

Off to the craft fair next weekend in Chelsea, Quebec! And taking some buckthorn ink along, too:

Next ink colour to try is wild grape, waiting its turn in the stash, Might even have some ready to go with the walnut and buckthorn for next weekend! Naturally, the ink so-obtained can work as paint, also;  you can even add some other binder – an acrylic glazing liquid might be nice.

A la prochaine, mes amis/amies

Advertisements

Bye bye, buckthorn berries

Buckthorn hedge with fall berries

No more buckthorn berries left now in mid November for making the historic paint colour, Sap Green.  I collected about four cups/ one litre of them a month ago and have been posting the results of my colour search here. Today I am wrapping up the basic buckthorn work and providing a review of what I have learned from my experiments.

Juicy blue-black buckthorn berries which the Field Botanists of Ontario tell me on FB that the birds eat only when desperate , so to go ahead – please make paint and ink with them!

The Rhamnus cathartica ( Common buckthorn) is a despised shrub here in Ontario and , as in many North American zones, is classed as invasive. I normally try to work with native plants to obtain dye colours. I find I am guided by pragmatism as much as by principle -native plants take less gardening work, survive extremes of neglect and weather more easily and attract interesting and useful critters. Why buckthorn, then? Because of its long and fascinating history as a dye plant as a species here and in other parts of the world. 

For my research on the use of buckthorn for pigment, I have relied chiefly on the work of Dominique Cardon on natural dyes and of Daniel Thomspon on medieval painting. A delicious new book about making ink by Jason Logan rekindled my interest in buckthorn greens, and pointed me back to some of my previous work in similar areas, reported here: iris green ( also am historic colour) and walnut dyes/paints/inks. Enough background now. (Please check my references page and recent posts for full info). 

Here is what you might do to get buckthorn (“Sap”) green. Believe me, there are a lot of recipes out there so no need to swear by mine- I don’t! 

Here are two cups of ripe crushed berries in a one-litre/four cup slow cooker, heated to below boiling ( around 180) and cooked for an hour and a half or so, until the juice looks deep purple. My research turned up variations on whether to cook the berries or just squeeze the fresh uncooked juice. I tried both and found no difference in how the colour developed. Note also that to get a deep colour of green (a later step in the process), medieval recipes advised  cooking down the liquid by at least half…so clearly, buckthorn is heat tolerant, which was my concern. 

After the cooking step, time to strain the contents of the pot and then filter it. I used a wire colander for straining, then used a jelly bag for filtering the first time ( best to have more than one filtering session). I saved the residue for a second extraction as the old recipes advised. 

After transferring the purple liquid into clean glass jars, time to shift the pH  upwards  in order to trigger the formation of that coveted green. Some of the old recipes suggest using a combo of alum and soda ash. I used alum acetate alone, about one teaspoon/5 ml per cup /250 ml canning jar- or until the colour turns dark green before your eyes! Stir the jar a bit,   dissolve the alum in a tad of water, then add it. No need to be terribly exact. I figured if the alum did not work alone, I  could throw in the soda ash, too. It worked fine! 

I kept some purple liquid to use as is for its purple colour, then put aside a jarful of green liquid for further trickery. Natural dyers who are accustomed to working with modifiers such as ammonia, soda ash, iron, vinegar and copper sulphate will enjoy messing with the dye chemistry at this point.  I did a little of that but my main goal was green and maybe a bit of yellow-green ( with soda ash as modifier) 

Buckthorn green modified soda ash (yellows) and splashed with lemon juice (pink)

 Colour test strips

Green modified with soda ash for yellows;  splashed with lemon juice for pink
Greens splashed with lemon juice for pink
Greens light and dark with a tad of pink

These colour trials are on 140lb watercolour paper – different colours will show on other papers. On fabrics? I have not tried  the Sap Green on fabric yet but the ancient preference was to use silk for the easiest dye take up. 

I have to say that my mopping-up cloth ( a heavy canvas) looks pretty colour receptive, even without a mordant: 

Catching the green and yellow drips

The next step was to ” insissipate” the liquid – i.e., to concentrate its colour by either boiling it down to at least 50% of the original volume or by letting it evaporate to the same level. I boiled the dye down, having combined two batches of green dye liquid. ( Reminder: The berries can stand to be used for two extractions so do not chuck out the berries after the first straining. )

I filtered the boiled down liquid through three layers of cut up nylon pantyhose ( not thick ones) – in fact, I filtered the liquid also before  boiling it down. You can filter as many times as you think the sludgey bits in the liquid need it.

Greens bottled up

The test strips here show the colours before and after filtering the green liquid. The darker green contains thickish cooked plant residue, the ligher colour is after filtering. Because Sap Green is a relatively transparent colour, you need to paint more than one layer for a deeper shade. The green sludge in the liquid might please your inner texture seeker, though. 

As the photo shows, the green dye is now enrolled as an ink. To each one ounce bottle of liquid, I added 15 drops of gum arabic, one whole clove and for anti-mold overkill, one drop of very pungent tea tree oil ( used in soaps for Athlete’s Foot). 

So I think that is it for buckthorn basics for now.

I have in mind to try a dye blanket with buckthorn green over plants in an ecoprint adventure. And there is one more medieval technique to try and that is to make a “clothlet” as reservoir to hold the green colour ( I will not be using a pig’s bladder as artists did way back) …I have made ” clothlets” for iris green ( reported on this blog).  Thompson says Sap Green was also stored in clothlets. You know where I am going with this…

Next time: probably walnut ink! While I get my “clothlets” and dye carrier blankets sorted. 

Purples from basic buckthorn juice; greens from the purples juice modified with alum acetate

August prints from native plants: Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Eco dyeing and printing are seasonal activities for me, closely tied to my garden's rhythms. Late summer and early fall in AgCan/USDA zones 4/5 is a period rich in accumulated plant pigments. Even though eco printing as a technique relies on the knowledge of tradional dyeing, it does not always turn up the same pigments in the dye pot as do the traditional “whole cloth, dye bath” techniques for dyeing fibres.

Furthermore, due to the nature of the eco print processes ( bundling, stacking, steaming, composting, tying, solarizing, etc.) , more than one colour may show up from one plant on a dye printed surface. This happens when the eco print processes force pigments in the plants to separate out into constituent colours on the surface of the substrate. These colour differences can often lost be when the plants are processed to extract colours by first heating them in water in a pot to make a dye bath, then processing the fibres in the dye bath to take up the colour.

I like to approach my print surfaces as if they were abstract compostions; thus, I am concerned with the interplay among colours, forms and field. The second image (rather far below) shows silk crepe de chine eco printed with a selection of native plants from my garden last week: a background lightly coloured pale- ish yellow by just a tad of goldenrod ( a few sprigs removed from the tops), a lot of coreopsis verticillata (the whole plant in bits) to give small, varied and strong red-orange marks, the blue-black berries of Aronia melanocarpa ( black chokeberry) smooshed on to contribute blue, purple and lavender areas to the field (plus the darks and lights of analagous colours, as does the coreopsis), purple sandcherry leaves for deep teal greens (not shown), and on the right, a Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quiquefolia) leaflet in its red fall colours – but scarcely any eco print from it.

This image right below shows coreopsis (red and oranges) and red cabbage (blues) on silk. The colours and distribution of forms across the field of the textile reminded me of flower paintings by Seurat and Odilon Redon- along with the orange-blue Impressionist fave colour combos. Playing with the dye outcomes is for me the most fascinating part of contact printing with plants

Back to the Virginia creeper (VC)

VC, a native vine, is not much used in the traditional dye pot, as far as I can tell. It seems to be a kind of Bait and Switch plant, flaunting spectacular red and purple fall foliage, adorned with rich bunches of black berries that birds devour; but it appears to be a Tame, Timid and Stripeless Tiger in the trad dye pot. Adrosko, Cannon, Casselman and Dean (to mention some Big Trad Dye Names, see my References page) make no mention of VC as a dye plant. Other sources do mention it but without enthusiasm: Richards and Tyrl in their book on on North American dye plants have it classified in their chapter about plants that give little or no colour, noting only a pale yellow-cream. ( I guess that is the chapter every poor dye plant dreads to be consigned to… But take heart, Virginia creepers. Eco printing is your friend.)

Daniel Moerman (in “Native American Ethnobotany” ) writes with erudition that the Kiowa Indian tribe (in Canadian usage: “First Nations” or Kiowa native peoples) obtained pink dyes from VC berries to colour feathers used in war dances.

The notion of long-term “fastness” is not generallly addressed, other than to recommend the use of the Usual Suspects as mordants. I suspect tannins and iron might help VC colour up in an eco print process more than in the trad dye pot.

The only really hopeful discussion about potential eco print colour from the VC appears in a 1986 publication entitled “Dye Plants of Ontario” from the Burr House Spinners and Weavers Guild ( see Reference page). The guild tested the vine for dye potential, using the whole plant, having gathered it in November and noting: “This vine is not known as a dye plant.”

With alum as mordant , a 6:1 plant-to-water ratio and 45 minutes in a simmering dye bath, the colour given is “butterscotch”. Other mordants were as follows: with copper, a rich tan; with iron, a golden tan. As a modifier post-dye bath, iron gave deep bronze; ammonia, a bright golden tan. Summer foliage gave ivory with an ammonia rinse, and olive greens with a vinegar rinse. No longer recommended as mordants are tin and chrome though the Burr House dyers did report their experiments with these.

Thus, with this info In mind, I plan to experiment further with the Virginia creeper as it matures in my garden and in the environs.

And after all that “learned” text above, I expect, Dear Reader, that you will be wondering when your author will finally put up the Eye Candy.

Here it is:

 

The red leaf on the right is one leaflet of the five leaflets ( the “quinque” in quinquefolia) of the Virginia creeper. But hardly any eco print at all. The reds and purples came from coreopsis and aronia berries, though of course, one could be forgiven for hoping the VC had printed thus. But we know that what we see in a leaf is not what we necessarily get on an eco printed substrate. (And I think snails ate the holes in the VC leaflet – the vine was covered in snails. )

Next, I will mess around with tannins and iron to see if an eco print can be coaxed out of the Virginia creeper. There were no iron bits, bark or tannin rich plants in the bundle shown here. Of course, I am just guessing that we could get a print from the VC in the environment of these mordants/dye assistants. TBD.

Inspiration for this post

Thanks to the edltor of the Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers who asked me about fastness of dye in the Virginia creeper. That question became my research topic for today, and led me down this most interesting rabbit hole. I have been planting lots of the native Virginia creeper this summer to attract birds, to give fall colour, to cover the tattier parts of our fence and to give privacy. Perhaps VC leaves can make an interesting eco print, or perhaps the VC berries can dye some war dance feathers pink (gonna try for those pink feathers for sure but maybe will weave them into the garden loom instead of my hair. Turn swords to ploughshares, kind of.)

Meanwhile, here is a taste of some more Eye Candy in relation to future posts about dyeing with native plants. The next post will be about eco prints on silk with other native plants from my garden. See if you can guess the plants printed here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hints: Walnut, coreopsis, sumac, aronia berries, rose, cotinus, goldenrod, purple sandcherry.

 

Until next time

 

Wendy

 

Black Walnut markings

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) dye report.

First up is the info about the best walnuts for dye or ink. They are the green ones as they fall from the trees (here in Ottawa, that means October). This Fall, my three-year old grandson, Dylan, was my foraging companion. We took a nice collecting walk in a nearby walnut grove and gathered both green and black decomposing nuts.

We collected them “eco” style: picking them from under the trees, and not too many, for the critters need their winter supply. It was charmingly “eco” to get down as close to the ground as a three-year old, to examine and discuss every plant, every bug, every lichen-bearing stick; to take over an hour to collect one bag of walnuts, to choose more black squishy ones than hard green ones because the black ones squirted out icky sludgey goo on Nana…

By January, all the walnuts were black and frozen in our unheated storage. No more green ones that give the most colour. Well. We work with what is at hand, thus respecting another principle of an “eco” approach to natural dyeing. Four walnuts fit in my electric dye pot, a small ceramic slow cooker of one litre capacity. To get the most colour out of the black nuts, I thought I should make several dye extractions. In the end, four extractions were possible before the walnuts became sludge …or Nana's Squirting Goo…

For the first extraction, the walnuts were covered with water and simmered at 180 degrees for several hours, at least six, or until the liquid had reduced to about a cup. (One paper bundle and one small silk bundle were dyed in the first extraction)

The walnuts and liquid were then strained in cheesecloth, the dye saved, the four walnuts returned to the crock pot, covered with water, slow simmered for six more hours, then strained as above. The procedure was repeated once more, to make three times, I.O.W., until the walnuts disintegrated. The three litres of water reduced to just over three cups of black-brown dye. These three cups of dye were combined and strained once more. Then they were returned to the dye pot to cook down yet again until reduced to one cup of rich, thickish liquor, like balsamic vinegar:

So three litres of water, four squishy black Black walnuts and four reductions over a total of 24 hours in an electric crockpot..hmmm…I wonder how “eco” that is? At least the squirrels got the sludge.

So what to do with walnut dye?

The cheesecloth used for straining the walnut stew became…a rose by any other name:

Some watercolour paper first stamped with Oshiwa wood blocks and green acrylic paint:

…then washed over with the walnut reduction ( sort of a la Jamie Oliver):

 

…to this end: a typical antiquing look. The dye settled around thicker paint and created a drop-shadow effect, reversing the original white ground to green.

 

Some marks with walnut dye made with a paint brush, the dye painted on, dribbled on, splattered on, dripped on watercolour paper. The darkest marks come from a heavier application or a painting over of previous brush strokes:

 

 

Series below:

Marks made on wool in a 2011 walnut dye bath. Vintage wool panels were immersion dyed, bundled with Baby Blue eucalyptus, iron bits, acorns, corn cob, florist fern:

The euc printed acid yellow mostly but also patches of lime green and orange. Of course the deep browns are walnut dye.

Iron bits printed and so did the green florist fern:

I adore the walnut stripes:

A tad of orange from the euc and a clear green print from the fern. How well protein fibres print!

More stripeys in shades of walnut:

And a print from the dried Indian corn cob over which I had bundled this wool fragment:

Hope to make myself a garment from these panels of walnut and eucalyptus prints!

Last pic of walnut markings:

The brown dye seeped along the edges of the small accordion book above, and washed in over the Chokecherry leaves prints.

So far, I can use the straight dye liquid quite successfully as an ink, paint or liquid dye application.

But not yet sure about the right recipe for an ink thickened with gum tragacanth or gum arabic.

Wondering what would work for use with writing pens.

And what preservative might I need? Should I add alum?

Next post: Some local colour…

 

 

 

 

 

Winterlude Eco Dye Prints on Silk

To continue the previous dye report:

My “Winterlude” project combines dyeing with printing so as to extract plant pigments by immersing tied or clamped bundles/stacks of leaves with papers (cotton/cellulose fibres) and leaves with textiles (silk/protein fibres) in simmering/180 degree plant dyes.

Two summers ago, when I first began using natural dyes to print textiles and paper, I experimented with Purple Cabbage. See this image of silk crepe de chine below: No colour change, still lovely mottled blues. I had several pieces in my stash. What if I overdyed some with my winter leaves in a walnut dye bath? I love blues and browns and yellows together!

So to start with, I bundled the previously eco printed/dyed silk with the winter leaves over bamboo skewers so that I could snap them and bend them to fit the crockpot. I tied the bundle tightly with waxed linen thread, entered it into the dye pot and processed at a gentle 180 degrees for about an hour. I wanted the linen thread to make a lot of delicate lines of resist prints. You can tie linen thread really tight, too. (I got my linen thread at a leather work supply store. It is not easy to find and not cheap, either)

Here we are after the procesing and after the thread has been removed (I unbundled right away. No patience.) The thin, light lines on the bundle are the lines of resist prints. Of course, the waxed linen thread was dyed at the same time, its wax all melted off in the dye bath. The bendy bundle came about as a result of bending the bamboo skewers, as noted.

L
Now the reveal: The blues come from two sources: first, the acer palmatum prints:

Some blue patches, as in this detail below, are from the Purple Cabbage print that survived the walnut dye bath; the resist lines, now characteristic of this printing method, show beautiful marks from the walnut dye and linen thread:

Other views:

Resist lines: I LOVE the white tracery effect. This passage looks like something hand drawn, such a great contrast to the more diffuse prints and the colours.

Printed silk in front, printed linen at rhe back (more next post on linen) – the effects of the blue in the silk make a grey blue background on the silk, while the white linen, undyed previously, retains the lighter background colour. Both are lovely.

Walnut on Purple Cabbage blue mottles on silk, contrasted against the same leaf pigments on linen.

Below:

Part of the Winterlude collection, printed with winter leaves processed in dye baths.

Left to right:

1. Paper in coreopsis-tagetes 2. Linen in coreopsis-tagetes 3. Paper in coreopsis-tagetes 4. Linen in coeropsis- tagetes 5. Silk in walnut 6. Linen in coreopsis- tagetes 7. Paper in walnut

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

More next time – on vintage linen.

 

Winterlude Eco Dye Prints on Paper

Outside, the snow is falling for the first weekend of Ottawa's Winterlude Festival. After some tropical days in the last weeks at plus nine, the Rideau Canal (World Heritage site) has finally opened for skating. From my window, I saw the first skater head over there…I was running for my camera to capture the textile interest not the skates: that conic Hudson Bay blanket coat! I still have a coat like that, FYI. Plus I have requested in my will to be buried in a Hudson Bay blanket…textile freak to the end, paying tribute to my adopted country besides saying a snide farewell to my favourite store, now that Target has bought it…

Meantime, winter finds me dyeing, ha ha.

This Winterlude, instead of skating, I got out my stash of fallen leaves saved from fall foraging walks in the local arboretum, all nicely frozen in the garage. My favourites are acer palmatum (Japanese Maple), acer saccharum (Sugar Maple, another Canadian icon), cotinus coggygria(Smokebush), alnus (Alder) and amelanchier canadensis ( my beloved Serviceberry). Only two are natives; in the arboretum, one finds leaves from trees that originate in many parts of the world. Besides these, I shlepped out from the big deep freezer, AKA garage, a nice pile of walnuts from a Black Walnut stand nearby: To dye, to print, perchance to steam – to paraphrase Shakespeare…

For a change, I had in mind to print the leaves on alum mordanted paper by immersion dye bath method rather than steaming the bundles under bricks as I usually do. I always use heavy weights to get good contact between plant and substrate when steaming. I place the bundles above the water on a rack supported by wee glass jars. So the plant-substrate contact in the immersion dye bath was the challenge today.

I had two dye baths:

1. The walnut dye bath:

Four frozen walnuts fit in the wee crock pot I was using, a brand-new $10 crockpot, purchased Friday last at a big sale at an affiliate store of the above Hudson Bay company, going out of biz …(Are there cosmic connections here – Target and walnut dye? )

I filled the pot to cover the walnuts and left them cooking, to come to 180 degrees. Then in went two bundles, one bundle with leaves on 140lb water colour paper and one with leaves on crepe de chine.. ( “Crepe de Chine” means China Silk – are we back to Target again? ) The silk bundle will be the subject of another post. FYI, the white on the walnuts is frost, not mould – though mould would likely print, also.

(After dyeing the paper bundle and the silk bundle, I cooked the dye down to one quarter its original volume of one litre/four cups water minus the displaced liquid…maybe one cup…Am going to try to make walnut ink.)

 

2. This dye bath below was left from the previous steamed bundles of paper, printed with coreopsis and tagetes. Lots of colour from the steamed bundles had entered water. (See previous post) I removed the jars and the rack for this project. About three inches of watery dye bath remained and to that I added some bits of iron. I processed a linen and a paper bundle; the linen floated, as you can see, because it was wrapped over a wood branch, while the paper bundle sank with the binder clips!

Next, the leaves I used in the bundles: from noon, around the clock:

Sweet Gum, Alder, Cotinus, Japanese Maple, Sugar Maple, Serviceberry, one Gingko and one Red Maple.

 

Paper next:

Sheets of “Montreal” watercolour paper, 140 lbs., soaked in water and alum acetate for several days (one day is really enough but no harm if longer) in a plastic plant tray, one quarter teaspoon alum powder to one cup (250 mls/8 oz) water. It is a rather soft paper and tears easily. But it takes impressions of a leaf beautifully so you not only get a coloured print but an impression, too. I suspect the paper might not have a lot of clay and binders in it, either. But that is research for another day.

After soaking the paper, I carefully tore it lengthwise and folded the strips into accordions of four and eight pages. I tucked the leaves in between the folds and inserted some iron bits in some folds to provoke darker prints from the leaf tannins. Then I encased the stacks of folded paper in various makeshift covers using plastic cut from ice cream containers, heavy cardboard cut to size or BBQ foil, clamping these over the paper sheets with small binder clips to get good contact between plant and paper and to avoid impressions in the papers from the binder clips.

Pics of the encasements: I tried foil, plastic and cardboard. I found the plastic and the cardboard were better than the foil at creating good contact and hence, clearer prints.

Aluminum foil, BBQ weight with binder clips on a four- fold accordion. This one went in the Coreopsis-Tagetes bath. Another four- fold went in the walnut bath. About two hours at a simmer, i.e, 180 degrees.

This is it, fresh from the dye bath with a bit of iron:
With the leaves after processing in the dye bath, before drying:
After drying:
This one below is an eight fold accordion, encased in cut bits of plastic, clamped with binder clips and it went in the walnut bath ( It fit in the little pot along with a silk bundle.)

This is how the papers above looked before being clamped:

After processing:

This four page accordion below was processed in the Coreopsis-Tagetes dye bath:

And here are three four-page accordions.

Top: Winter leaves in coreopsis-tagetes dye

Centre: Fresh leaves (florist ferns from a supermarket bouquet, no pic)

Bottom: Winter leaves in walnut with iron.

More Winterlude prints next time!

 

Slow Clothworks: curing, washing and rinsing eco prints

Arlee Barr’s eco-print washing-out adventures have inspired this post! Thank you to arlee the unvarnished.

A Spring 2012 review of my inventory revealed a box of vintage cottons and linens, eco printed in June 2011 and left to cure, unwashed and unrinsed until now, some twelve months later. The long curing, I must admit, was more by accident than by design because for the most part, I had simply let my June 2011 dyed and eco-printed textiles dry in the summer sun then washed them out right after that.

(And should I also admit “gloating over my hoard” instead of the slight fiction expressed in the above sanitized “review of my inventory”? With 30-odd years of the virus Academia in my blood, Strict Honesty, as in “Unvarnished and Unembellished Truth” dies hard, dear Readers. We need to have our answers ready for the question: What isTruth?)

Back to eco prints!

What would be the effects of long waiting before washing out? Would they lose the colour? and if so, how much? Last summer’s posts detailed the post-washing results for many similar linens and cottons mordanted, dyed and printed in the same manner.This week, a “cured” collection of eight met an (overly-thorough?) half capful of Synthrapol and two tablespoons of Orvus paste in a washing machine filled with cool water, set to two rinses.

Note that I normally unbundle my eco prints when cool, immediately after printing or dyeing, thus, so far, I have not let bundles “cure” before unwrapping.

Mordants

The little stash was mordanted June 2011 by soaking (not cooking) in a classic (from the traditional dye lit.) three- step alum-tannin-alum sequence, with tannin from fresh sumac leaves, garden-gathered, simmered in water to cover, strained, then cooled. The alum was the food grade variety from Bulk Barn.

First was the preparation of the mordants: sumac-tannin mordant and alum, then the cool soaking period for each step of the mordanting – 24 hours at least for each -IOW, until I got around to the next step…

Indeed, the process was Slow. Could have been Slower, too, if I had let the bundles sit for some time before unwrapping.

Plant materials

The leaves for the eco prints were (variously) perennial geranium, Purple Sandcherry (prunus cistena) purple pansies, dried red rose petals (from rosebud tea), dried hibiscus petals (from hibiscus tea), willow leaves and sumac leaves. Most prints in this collection were obtained early in the season by steaming, while one 2011 leaf print was sumac-mordanted earlier then bundled and dyed in black walnut juice in September when walnuts were available. The sumac soak acted as both tannin mordant and as a light yellow-green dye, so the prints are all somewhat yellow-based. (FYI : A colour- free tannin mordant can be obtained as powder from Maiwa in Vancouver…In late fall, when I was out of fresh sumac juice, I switched to this second source of tannin..BTW, the tree barks I used in June 2011 were tannin rich too, but more on that in later posts.)

Here are some images showing the Before and After of the curing- washing-rinsing phases for this collection of Slow Cloths

1. Before: Willow leaf on linen (Black Walnut dye – note the bundling string marks plus the labels I wrote …you think you will remember the printing details? NO way…I write a quick set of material and process notes on a label and pin that to the cloth. Make your own labels or buy a box of manila ones)

After:

Detail : a willow leaf print…

2. Before: Purple Sandcherry with one willow leaf.

The Before pic shows a deeper colouration than After, I think, so I see some loss of colour even after a year of curing in a box in the dark.But can we say more mellowing or a patina than a loss…(see what I mean about the way we can varnish the truth?)

After:

3. Before: Purple Sandcherry and Perennial Geranium with purple pansy:

After: Some fading (truthful observation!) I think, but not major, and some “blooming” of other colours. That may have happened because another textile in the wash had been post-mordanted with iron.

4. Before: Sumac, hibiscus petals (dried), rose petals (dried), perennial geranium leaves and flowers. The dark speckles are dried rose bud petals which had pretty well pulverized in the tea. The pinks are from hibiscus, large dried petals from tea. Dabs of purple came from the geranium flowers.

After: A loss of the pinks and purples due to the iron in another textile washed with this one. Iron turns hibiscus pink to grey. I took a chance washing the collection together in one batch..so this colour change was a result I had anticipated.

5. A few details of another print, post-wash (no Before pic ): perennial geranium on sumac dyed cotton, I found little fading after washing. Amazingly strong print from the geranium.

More detailsl: layered prints.
The greens are from the P. Sandcherry which give both green and purple, depending in the time of year. Later in the season, post-June, I observed more and deeper purples, especially on silks. The darkest lace is from the rosebud tea prints. The vintage cottons and linens do indeed develop a kind of patina.

A last note from a lovely willow leaf, later in the season.

Next post: More on the eco printed stash as I prepare to select Art Cloth for the July show in Ottawa.

Cheers

Wendy