May Eco Colours in Layers

Blooms and green leaves aplenty in the May garden! How rich might they be in pigments, though, so early in the season? Especially if printed on linen, a cellulose fibre- which can be challenging to print if new. I was thinking that some of the colours would be weaker this season.

To get the best colours, I like to refer to the dye books for advice. The trad dye lit recommends a three-step mordanting process for cellulose fibres: alum, tannin, then alum again. I used alum acetate as the linen mordant – it needs no heat, only a soak overnight. The tannin came from fresh young sumac leaves in my garden.

I cooked a pot full of leaves with water to cover along with a length of white linen at 180 F and obtained a yellow liquor (a dye as well as a tannin mordant). I skipped the usual first alum soak and put the tannin-mordanted linen straight into the alum bucket (having used one tablespoon of alum to each half pound of dry-weight fabric in water to cover) Within half an hour, the linen had become bright yellow-green! Hmm. Had not predicted quite such a vibrant yellow!

The sumac tannin bath: yellow for sure!

The off-white linen dyed yellow-green, post-alum soak:

Layered with a selection of May blooms and leaves:

Dandelions and spent tulips :

…Canada Violets:

…lilacs:

 

Flowering Crabapple (Malus “Royalty”) – red leaves, deep pink blooms.

Purple Sandcherry (Prunus cistena):

Bundled into the steamer for an hour or so:

After the bundling: Diffuse marks.

Lots of blue-green teals with deep yellows on this layer; pinks and purples from the tulips; dark, dark blues from the tulip anthers; deep blue-green from the crabapple red-purple leaves; ditto, the sandcherry. The bright yellow is from the pink crabapple blossom: the dotty blues from the lilacs and teal blue from the violets. Way more blue than I predicted. Looking now for some shapes and forms to complement the range of colours obtained, I laid out more plants.

The linen was layered again with the same selection of plants plus some rose leaves:

 

This time, the fabric was torn into smaller pieces and layered flat in the steamer, in the same way that I eco print papers.

With this result:

..and with a stalk of Coreopsis verticillata (Threadleaf Coreopsis) – that is the bright red on the right over the sumac leaf that prints golden.

And now yet another layer, this time with more Coreopsis Verticillata to give precise form and brightly contrasting colour- the Orange-Blue opposition is one of my favourites. But first, just look at the red in the jR on the left here! Within half an hour, the coreopsis stalks in the jar had given up this much dye in a jar of warm water with half a teaspoon of alum acetate. On the right, the jar contains fresh stalks in plain water. The incredible red colour is from the leaves and the roots: later, when the blooms arrive, they too will print bright red.

Sumac and coreopsis for the third layer, to give colour contrasts and precise botanical forms:

With these results:

The first four samples were modified with iron before the final layering: that had interesting effects all over the piece. Note how the sumac print yellow-greens have become blue.

 

 

The sumac imposed its yellow over the base and made bright yellow patches when it came in contact with the lilac:

Primary colouration…

Compare the green sumac print (below) with the blue sumac print, iron-dipped, above. The next few samples were not treated with an iron dip.

Next post: Some of these same prints modified with iron and over-printed with sumac and coreopsis. Plus some embroideries, as promised last time, and lots of eco prints on paper using the same range of plants.

 

Wendy

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Trade secrets…sshhh…

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG) Ottawa Valley Chapter, held another workshop recently. Our instructor, Mary McIntyre, led us in making a simple and elegant photograph album. Mary is a paper conservator and master bookbinder. She enriched the workshop experience for us with her interesting presentation on the history of albums. Most enriching was her generous sharing of expert knowledge of bookbinding way beyond the topic of album-making. Workshop participants, each in their area of interest and expertise, also shared generously. It was a very satisfying experience. How pleasant to be a member of such a generous group and to learn and share so freely. One of the principal aims of CBBAG is to pass on the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for bookbinding and the book arts, and to actually plan for a time when students might become instructors also. CBBAG is not a guild where trade secrets are the order of business! No NDA's required.

In the past, though, in other guilds, strict secrecy and Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) represented important values to the master artisan. Diane Vogel Maurer reports in the introduction to her book ” Marbling: A Complete Guide to Creating Beautiful Patterened Papers and Fabrics” that “much of the work was accomplished secretly behind wooden partitions and masters were careful to teach only a few aspects of their craft to each worker to prevent any of their apprentices from learning enough to establish himself as a competitor.” (p15) That proprietory approach to teaching and learning marbling had its lifespan cut short by Charles Woolnaugh who “divulged the whole process by publishing a book, despite the outrage of the guild. James Sumner, Woolnaugh's chief rival, did not take such severe umbrage, however. Recognizing the value of disclosure to the progress of knowledge and of healthy competition, Sumner pragmatically published his own book on marbling. I have to say I like the cut of both their jibs.

So here I am, Spilling The Beans again on my blog, today starting with some images of the albums we made at the CBBAG workshop. Mary supplied us with bookcloth she had made herself from Quilter's Quarters. Mary divulged her secrets, too, in the self-respecting context of a workshop. To make the bookcloth, she revealed that she applied a simple cornstarch paste to the back of the cotton and let it dry. (Wheat starch paste works too. A recipe for corn starch paste is at the end of this post). The bookcloth covered the outside of the album and we had some pretty Japanese papers to line the inside covers. To construct the album pages, we cut Fabriano black pastel paper to size, sewed the stacks of signatures together (I made my first Kettle Stitches!) and made some decorative stitches over the spine of the album.

My album is the orange one. You can see the elegant effect of the spine-wrapping threads on all these albums.
We cut rectangular apertures in the spine board to enjoy a view of the sewn signatures. I love that feature!

The linen thread we used to sew the signatures was brought through the aperture, then around and over the spine at top and bottom. This gave a lovely thread texture to the outside of the spine.

Husband made the green one. He made another album at home. His engineer's mind caused him to figure out how to make the spine decoration threads more stable ( they do kind of shift around) so he simply pierced holes in the spine and brought the thread through them.

Natural linen thread, waxed, for the stitching

Canson pastel papers for the album pages and commercial bookcloth for the outside covers:
A map for the inside cover:

Corn starch paste recipe

Four parts water to one part corn starch.

Mix cold water and starch until smooth

Cook over medium heat until thick and smooth, stirring all the time.

Cool in the fridge.

Thin with cold water and beat to remove lumps, to make a paintable mix. Thinner is better.

Place fabric on a flat surface like an acrylic sheet,

Apply paste to the back of the fabric

Dry and store.

More “Secrets”

In the CBBAG workshop, our instructor, Mary McIntyre, shared aspects of her practices re attaching papers to textiles. I have been reading “Magical Secrets About Chine Colle” by Brian Shure of Crown Point Press. Brian is another artist maker like Mary, dedicated to a legacy of teaching knowledge, skills and attitudes in a self -and-other -respecting but generous and open manner. One way Brian does this is through his books. His information on using paste with paper and textiles is very valuable. He shares expertise fully in his book with the goal that you and I as readers will learn and pay it forward. In future posts, I plan to report more of how I am using Mary's and Brian's processes of attaching papers to fabrics.

Until next time!

PS The bookbinding needle inside the spine aperture gives a sense of scale.

 

 

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

Art Textiles for a Wedding

Reduce, Re-use and Recycle was the wedding mantra since the Bride is a 3R Devotee…and the Bride’s Mother has a stash of vintage textiles and findings to make creative use of…

So the next RRR project after the chuppah was the headgear created for the wedding party of four ladies by Madeleine France Cormier, modiste and milliner of Chapeaux de Madeleine in Ottawa using her own millinery supplies in tandem with vintage textiles from my stash.

For the Bride, a fascinator was created from a silk cocktail hat inherited from her grandmother, and trimmed with silk veiling, feathers, antique square pearl buttons and handmade antique lace Passion Flower motifs:

A detail of the lace motif:

Another detail, showing how the veil is attached to a headband by a small lace motif and pearl button:

For the Mother of the Bride, Madeleine created a fascinator with a Steam Punk vibe: knitted copper mesh (AKA copper blocker from Lee Valley Tools in Ottawa), Victorian antique black jet beaded lace and black milliner’s mesh (horse hair) …and a sassy, feathery cockade.

Sister in Law, also into RRR, wore magenta purple suede shoes obtained from a consignment store (purple fascinator pic in next post…)

Friend of the Bride, Linsday Macdonald, made flowers for the dinner table out of old newspaper and buttons, displaying them in recycled blue Bristol glass sherry bottles along with fresh flowers in blue – hydrangeas and hyacinths (FYI: Harvey’s Bristol Cream is my most used condiment…It goes into everything from stews to soups to gravy to blueberry sauce to French toast …and naturally, the cook’s glass…it sits permanently on my kitchen counter along with a companion bottle of Marsala – same uses, less sweet)

And just a few more pics of the chuppah, culled from here and there (I have to admit I got too excited and forgot to give instructions re pics of the chuppah for my blog…)

Last entry in this post is about the Wedding Cloth made from the linen tablecloth (seen above) that covers the small table under the chuppah and holds the candles, wine and wine glasses required for the wedding ceremony. When I returned from the wedding, I eco printed the linen cloth (stained with red wine) with dried leaves left over from the chuppa eco prints, adding in some yellow wedding roses that the children had strewn beneath the canopy for the Bride and Groom. I bundled it with iron chunks, soaked it in white vinegar and steamed it for two hours. This is the first of the Wedding Art Textiles following the creation of the chuppah.

The Chuppah Tablecloth

For the colours, I used dried coreopsis, Japanese maple and cotinus from last summer, along with yellow roses from the chuppah, some old flat irons to give rusts, blacks and greys and a nice big red wine stain. The linen is damask with an ivy motif.

And a last pic of the Bride and Groom standing under the willows:

 

Next post: More fascinators, possibly more table decs and maybe more chuppah pics. And likely the start of a new series of eco prints.

Heads Up for my faithful readers: We are selling our house and therefore house hunting this summer plus I have a show in July. Blog posts will likely be not more than twice a month starting June 2012…Thank you for your interest! I am hoping to do a major update on my dye plant page, once I get my notes sorted.

 

Wendy

 

Forest Floor

A forest floor is a place of new beginnings, nurturing life from the detritus of the old, first drawing down the eye of the body and the eye of the mind so as to enable them together to look up and beyond.

Here are the first images of pieces for my upcoming show “Forest Floor”, July 2012 at the Shenkman Arts Centre, Ottawa. The work featured is contact printed with plants and rust on silks, linens, cotton and papers and stitched at various stages of the process.

“Eyes of the Forest” (22″ x 96″)

Silk habotai, contact printed with plants and rusted iron; hand stitched. Mounted for hanging on a plexi bar.

1. Section of the work, hanging.

 

2. Another section:

 

Third section:

 

Detail 1

Detail 2

Detail 3

Detail 4

Detail 5

Detail 6

 

Plants used for contact printing: red cabbage, safflower petals, Osage Orange (dye powder) rooibos tea, black tea.

 

Yorkshire Leaves Make A Rainbow For The Chuppah

For the British family contribution to the chuppah, lovely Cousin Pam in Ilkley sent me these near-evergreen leaves from her March garden near the “tops” . I am not sure of all of their names but they include (I think) variegated holly, spotted laurel, saggitaria, bay, erica, rosemary and thyme. The red leaves are new growth.

 

The leaves were bundled in four panels of pre-mordanted silk chiffon and steamed as usual. I was hoping for spring yellows and greens, and was not disappointed! The looked-for surprises were the blues and purples from the red leaves and (I think) the heather (erica) stems. The heather bells gave some pinky browns and spots of dark green.

 

Here are some close-ups of the Ilkley panels (I have begun to sew the edges of all the printed panels to restrain the fraying a bit – not too much restraint, though. A narrow zig zag makes a pretty and informal finish.)

 

I have sewn two long panels together. See the pinks and greens on the bottom Ilkley panel

 

Purpley-browns and greens, on the left Ilkley panel.

 

Greens and blues, on the right.

Purples, blues and greens, bottom panel.

 

I layered the chiffon Ilkley panels beneath/over the previously printed eucalyptus on silk organza (reds, yellows, oranges). The colours from each layer interact and make a fascinating colour mix, a shifting rainbow palette. The euc orange mutes to warm peachy pink under the spring green layer.

These layers of eco printed chiffon and organza will form the four sides sides of the chuppah canopy, about 12″ hanging down from the “roof” all around.
I intend the sides of the chuppah to appear different, depending on whether they are viewed from outside the canopy or from inside. The chuppah will define a unique and sacred space for the Bride and Groom during the ceremony. After the ceremony, all are invited to enter and share the joyful spirit of the day.
Next time: Hmmm…can’t give away too much more before the wedding…