November Studio

It is the last day of November and the day of Saint Andrew, patron of Scotland ( Greece, too) and all Scots, even those like me from Orkney! Time to report on the month's art activities, though I will not be done writing before midnight Ottawa time; still, somewhere to the west of me it will still be Saint Andrew's Day.

But first, a goodbye to the colours of autumn in The Kaleyard, last seen in the early weeks of a milder-than-expected eleventh month:

Sumac and amelanchier:

Potted amaranth and kale:

A late assortment of fall colours, some from October:

The last one is the perennial geranium, a sturdy plant, green under the snow and trusty provider of colour in the eco print pot.

Here are some papers printed this month with geranium ( and cotinus)

A smaller geranium, greened by iron/rust in the dye pot:

…and cotinus: the little flecks of pink are lovely and most likely to show up at this time of the seasons.

Cotinus: Charcoaled by iron/rust neighbours in the bundle:

Geranium, two varieties, blackened and greened with iron/rust but still holding on to yellows:

As you might notice in the work of eco printers, yellow is a frequent colour. Some despair is possible.

But take heart, Dear Dyer. A solution is available from colour theory. ( As well as from some post- print tinkering- though not discussed here today – like touching up the colour with other dyes, paints or modifiers like iron liquor or copper liquor or ammonia. And no, post-print touching-up is not a ticketable offence according to me. You are the artist, and you get to do what you like with your art, especially in the establishing of your own purposes and the safe and rationale means of achieving them. )

Thus: To get the most of my yellows from season to season ( when they change value and even hue) I like to pair them with some strongly contrasting colours that can act as foils. In these prints, the contrasts come via rusty prints and cotinus; both leaves are tannin- rich that give deep charcoal or black in the environment of iron, and also some greens. Yellow and black are pretty powerful together.

And next, some more rust prints on paper, this time with indigo and tannins from tea: also powerful contrasts.

 

Winter wools are on my list of textiles for dyeing, and this year I am trying for that famous and popular ( but non-native hereabouts) eye-popping eucalyptus red introduced to us by our DownUnder Diva of Dyes, India Flint. I have a lot of dried euca around the studio saved from supermarket bouquets and welcome those Green Immigrants to the dye plant stash. Bundled with Prunus virginiana and immersed in a walnut dye bath ( Juglans nigra) prepared in a crockpot with the heat set to “low” and left overnight, some of my wool fragements look like this:

Don't the colours look familiar?

The prunus gave the teal greens and even purple, while the euca gave ranges of reds and orange with a tad of yellow. Of course, the walnuts give rich brown on wool ( though much paler on linen) So here, we get the power of analagous colours in teams beside colour complements in the red and green.

 

My most recent project this month was with Dylan, my wee grandson, aged six. We have done lots of painting and stamping and so forth on big sheets of paper, using a very basic palette of cadmium yellow medium, cobalt blue and some kind of red (we lost control of the inventory – most likely the red was cad. red) plus a nice metallic gold. Those paintings mount up – kids are decisive and prolific painters and do not hang about obsessing over the next brushstroke as we adults might tend to do. i heartily recommend a session with a six year old to get you out of your Art Rut. Just try keep up with that kid! But what to do with all our paintings as they piled up?

I hit on a plan to keep the works but to make them easier to store and fun, too. We will make books and boxes, said I!

So we have been making books and boxes from each single sheet painting, working with origami-type folds and no glue. This is an ongoing project, so today I am sharing just a few. The first is a wee box made in the style of the compartments in the Chinese Thread And Needle Case that I completed earlier this year.

For this one, Dylan and I stamped the paper with wooden Oshiwa blocks ( also reported on my blog in the past) and carved Indian textile blocks:

Others we made from painted papers:

 

And a larger box from some of my above-described geranium-cotinus prints:

 

 

If you want to try these boxes yourself, keep the ratio of the paper three times the size of the finished box; thus, the 'Geranium' box started with an 18″ square piece of paper and folded down to six inches and a tad as a box.

Here are some pics of a box under construction, to refresh your memory for the folding sequences: as you can see, you need to fold the large square of paper into a nice grid. The centred square (fold) is the bottom of the box when all the folds are in place. Two boxes fit on top of each other to make one box with a lid.

 

 

Next time, some more art from the studio with my young apprentice, who, bye the bye, was able to anticipate the next fold in his box as we went along…so you can do it, too! And it's a good time of the year to make gift boxes!

i shall likely post again about the art- from-grandkids' paintings sooner than I might otherwise do – I am grounded this week after a wee bit of surgery to my foot! But the mind keeps travelling, Dear Reader…and the hands can still move.

The blessings of Saint Andrew's Day on ya'all!

 

Wendy

 

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Books, boxes and eco prints

Time to catch up on reports about studio work! Where did July go? Well, this month took me and Husband on a new adventure. We have sold our house and have (almost) bought another, much smaller and with a much smaller garden…so lots of work ahead of us, sorting and recycling and, O Lord help us, DESTASHING…But somewhere in between the house selling and house hunting I managed to fit in some July eco prints – for the good of my soul and my sanity – challenging myself to work with wool, (What a great distraction from the Task At Hand…) Thanks to the generosity of James Dennison, eco printer extraordinaire, who sent me some wonderful pre-felt yardage (second-hand wool is hard to come by), July did not pass without an eco print or two…

To start:, A coiled pre-felt: the coreopsis leaks red…the strings were iron-dyed and made their own marks:

 

Three pre-felt fragments, printed with Black Walnut, Golden Rod, Purple Sandcherry, Coreopsis, Rose and Sumac:

 

 

Detail – greens, blues and teals from Prunus cistena: red from Coreopsis verticillata, yellow from sumac and Golden Rod:

 

 

A little silk habotai with coreopsis and Purple Sancherry:

 

 

My friend Carmella Rother, a felt artist, tried eco printing for the first time on her felted and embroidered merino. We had a fun session at my studio, with many lovely results. Even a first-time “student” print can succeed beautifully, as you can see. Carmella is captivated! She is now experimenting with eco prints on her felted vessels

 

Here, coreopsis and rose leaf with iron bitsmon felted merino:

 

 

String embossments on felt with eco prints (Purple Sandcherry)

 

 

Sumac and Purple Sandcherry on felted merino:

 

 

Sumac, coreopsis, Red Salvia blooms on embroidered felted merino:

 

 

Native plants for eco prints: Monarda, Golden Rod, Coreopsis, Black-Eyed Susan:

 

 

…Book Report

My books arrived back from the July Canadian BookBinders and Book Artists Guild National Show in Calgary.

A Blizzard Book (Hedi Kyle design) with soft cover: clamshell case by Shlomo Feldberg. Eco printed with maple and rust.

 

New World Scroll: Acer Saccharum. Eco printed papers, bookcloth, embroidered. Slip case by Shlomo (Book and box covered by eco printed papers and cloth)

 

 

Coptic binding; rust and maple printed papers; maple-printed linen covers (iron-dipped):

 

 

Rust printed and embroidered cloth; rust and maple printed papers:

 

 

That's it for now. Next project is to install a small show of eco printed Artist Books and prints at the Ottawa School of Art on August 12. The Iris Green books and prints will be part of the display as well as other books, including the ones in this post.

I will be giving a class in eco printing on paper at the Ottawa School of Art August Fri 23 Aug evening and Sat 24 Aug, for the day.

Hope to have some more student prints to share after the class!

Wendy

 

September Goodbyes

Not goodbye to my blog this September but certainly goodbye to the studio and garden at 20W. The Blue Heron came to say farewell:

 

Spent all of August and September so far sorting, packing, recycling, chucking out:

 

 

Of course, I saved a stack or two of this summer's printed textiles for blog pics. July was basically my last month working in the studio, racing to finish eco printing wools for an article in the British “Journal for Weavers, Spinners and Dyers” (www.thejournalforwsd.org.uk); making sure to use up all the iris leaves in my garden to make paper and the frozen irisvblooms to print book pages and cloth; finally, printing up silk that had been soaking for weeks in alum water.

First, the wool ( a recap of last blog post):

 

Wools eco printed with iron, maples, sumac, coreopsis and prunus cistena. Now for the silks:

 

 

Prunus cistena and coreopsis, above.

 

 

Rose, marigold, iron, sumac, prunus c.:

 

 

Coreopsis verticillata, rhus typhina, “Purple Passion” apple slices:

 

 

Rugosa rose, prunus cistena, iron, sumac:

 

 

Tagetes, iron, prunus:

 

 

Rhus typhina, Coreopsis v., Rosa rugosa:

 

 

Tagetes, Prunus cistena, Eucalyptus globulus:

 

 

As above, with “Purple Passion” apple slices.

 

 

The Story Table.

Witness to the spinning and weaving of many life-tales ( and plenty of unravelling, too) this (five-dollar) school library table was rescued and gifted to us 40 years ago…Oh, it has seen and heard many a story…For the new house, it will get a face lift but it will always remain our communion table:

 

Here we all are, as we are on Labour Day 2013, saying goodbye after a final meal as a family in our home of 35 years and celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary.

Clockwise from the tallest: Shlomo, Shannon, Sarah, Scott, Hannah, Matthew and Wendy. Seated ( L to R) : Nemo the Lab, Dylan, Noah, Layla.

 

Next up? Making art in Umbria, Italy!

Off to spend the month of October experimenting with the dye properties of plants in Umbria along with bookbinding traditions there as well as papermaking…Will be posting from Mount Subasio near Assisi.

Arrividerci!

 

Eco Prints with Eucalyptus on Paper, Silk and Wool

I had heard that sometimes soaking eucalytpus leaves for a while before printing can help to release the colours into the paper or textile, so over the busy-busy-busy Christmas holidays I left  some plant material to soak  in water in separate containers until the Twelve Days were up.

After soaking, the leaves looked like this: (Starting at top left): 1. Seeded Eucalyptus , larger oval leaf 2. Seeded Eucalyptus, smaller oval leaf 3. Israeli Eucalyptus (variety TBD) 4. Silver Dollar Eucalyptus (rounded leaf) 5. Baby Blue (centre) Eucalyptus

              Each kind of eucalyptus (with bits of bark, too) was sandwiched between two sheets of watercolour paper and stacked for steaming as usual. The “What If..???” for this session was to insert some silk chiffon (see later) in between the papers, to trap the leaves and stalks and to catch some colour.

I liked the print made by the stalks, as well as the range of colours.

Note the colour variation on the Seeded Eucalyptus: large oval leaves gave chartreusey yellow; smaller ones gave bright red orange, as did the seeds and stalks. The brown blotchy parts are from some aby Blue that began to slime up and compost in the water. The soaking seemed to coax more orange-reds out of the seeded eucalyptus on to paper.

Browns, tans and sagey greens from this variety (TBD) collected as both fresh and dry specimens from a park in Tel Aviv. Now this lot was not pre-soaked for I received it as a gift on New Year’s Day only.

OOO, Eye Candy! The sunny yellow eco print on paper from this variety (E. Globulus?) is pretty much the same intense colour as the one obtained on silks and wool (see pics below) without prior soaking but with longer cooking.

Baby Blue Eucalyptus eco prints (like strings of rounded fruits) on handwoven wild silk dupioni (lots of slubby texture), modified with iron liquor (rusty nails in vinegar) to shift the yellows and red-browns to greens and greys. Some  Seeded Euc is on the left. The panel has the feel of an oriental scroll –  I look forward to stitching this one.

The semi-transparent silk chiffon pieces that were  sandwiched between plants and papers are layered here for a painterly look. I am planning to stitch them in to some woollen pre-felt to create a new textile  from ecoprinted fragments layered over  wool.

Last fall, Baby Blue E. (no pre-soaking) gave bright yellow on wool jersey in an eco bundle with Black Walnut (brown).

More Fall 2011 prints: Silver Dollar E. (not pre-soaked) gave yellows on silk charmeuse (centre), and golds, oranges, and orange-reds on silk-wool blends. 

  For Seeded E., a shortish steaming (two and a half hours) brought orange-reds on both paper and silk when the plant material was pre-soaked; and chartreuses whatever process was adopted. Steaming for as long as four hours (and certainly not less than two) , seems to bring out the orange -reds in Seeeded, Silver Dollar and Baby Blue E., at least in my practice so far. 

Next posts

1. Some more updates to my Dye Plants page. In January, month of snows, what better way to brighten  dark, late afternoons than look at the images of a summer garden?

2.  I have broken down and bought some Couleur de Plantes natural dye extracts from Maiwa in Vancouver…I could no longer contain my curiosity about madder, logwood, etc etc. Can’t wait to see how – or IF! – they will work with  my  usual dye stuffs in the next collection of eco prints on silk habotai.

Happy New Year, Bonne Annee 2012!

 

Eco prints with eucalyptus and walnut on wool

The wool came from a recycled sweater, part wool jersey and part lamb’s wool. I mordanted the wool in alum for several days, cut the sweater into sections and bundled each section over a variety of supports: copper pipe, catalpa pods, dried corn cob, stripped cherry wood branch, eucalyptus stems, rough bark-covered branches. Acorns, rusty iron nails and staples were bundled in also.  The bundles were tightly wrapped in lots of cotton string (to give many kinds of marks), then steamed a while first over plain water, then simmered in a walnut dye bath. The outside of the bundles became rich dark brown, and areas  inside ,softer browns and greys from the walnut dye. The eucalyptus gave yellows and the iron bits, greys and blacks; the catalpa and the corn gave red-browns. Not sure about the copper – maybe it greened up the yellows to  bright acid yellow from the eucalyptus.  Some pics:

I snuck in a sprig of fern with the round Baby Blue leaves: they gave yellow and the fern gave greys:

2.  A range of browns and greys from walnut, yellow-greens from Seeded eucalyptus and blacks from rusty nails etc.:

3.  Dark brown walnut on the outside of the bundle, yellow euc’s and a circular print from an acorn cap:

4. Similar results but some blue-grey-black from the iron marks thrown in:

5. I like the contrast in this little wool canvas:

6.  The rusty iron bits leave great marks – and so does the acorn cap:

7.  Complex layering of marks and colours on  this small canvas:

8. This eco print made me think of the poem by William Blake:

Tyger, tyger, burning bright

In the forests of the night

What immortal hand or eye

Framed thy (awful?fearful?) symmetry?

9. Another view of the fern-eucalyptus print: a delicate and understated area, a contrast to the strong stripes in brown. It looks like a flowering bough.

 In  their next stage these small eco printed wool canvases will become one larger textile,  stitched and maybe felted. But that will be later in the winter when the garden plants are under snow and prints will be made from the materials in the stash – or at the florist.