Dyeing Silk with Brazilwood Shavings

8 05 2017

My friend and master violin bow maker Lee Guthrie gave me some shavings from Brazilian Pernambuco wood, which makes a stunning crimson red dye. Known as Brazilwood by dyers and favored by bow makers, it’s also an historically important dye material. The name for the country of Brazil is actually shortened from Terra do Brasil “land of brazilwood”, since it was so important to the economy. Brazilwood dye can also refer to a related Asian species of Caesalpinia or Sappanwood. See the Wikipedia entry for more background information.

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Simmering Brazil wood shavings

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Shades of red from Brazilwood dye

To make the dye, I poured boiling water over a big handful and let it sit overnight. I soon discovered that it’s a very strong dye, so I removed some shavings and simmered the rest for about 1 hour. The silk scarves were pre-mordanted with alum, then brought to a simmer, turned off and cooled overnight. Shavings can be dried and used again for lighter shades. Iron darkened the color to a burgundy. Eco printing with leaves was done after dyeing.

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Silk Scarf dyed with Brazilwood and eco printed with local leaves

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Brazilwood dyed silk scarf with iron


*  View my available scarves in the Eco Print section of my ETSY SHOP. *


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Eco Printing with Tropical Leaves

4 03 2017

At the end of January I again had the opportunity to combine a winter vacation with eco printing in Mexico. I stayed at my Minnesota friends’ house in Puerto Morelos (a small beachfront town just south of Cancun) in exchange for sharing some new techniques I’ve learned in the past year with their Mexican artisan friend, Angelica. We built on what we learned last year about some of the local plants that print well, and added some natural dyes to the mix. We tried using the local tropical almond tree leaves for a dyebath, which gave a beautiful gold color. Here are a few images from the mini-workshop.  I especially love the unknown vine that was easy to find and printed up nicely, with and without iron.

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mexicoecoprint

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*  View my available scarves in the Eco Print section of my ETSY SHOP. *






Indigo and Eco Printing Workshop with Pia Best-Reininghaus

25 02 2017

Here are some images from a great workshop I took with Pia Best-Reininghaus, assisted by her daughter Maria, on combining eco printing with Indigo dye. Robbin Firth of Heartfelt Silks in Hudson, Wisconsin organized the workshop and it was held at the Textile Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which has a great dye lab. Fall 2016 workshop.

We dyed and printed on cellulose fibers (viscose rayon, cotton & linen) as well as silk, incorporating rusty iron for some stunning results.

Here are a few of my favorite results, indigo dyed and eco printed leaves on rayon, cotton and silk:

This was a good introduction to indigo dyeing for me, only the second time I had access to an indigo vat. I ended up taking home some of the leftover indigo dye. After finding a big used pot with a burner so I could heat it up outside, I was able to revive the indigo and dyed more scarves and fabric, plus tried some Shibori folding techniques.

The vat froze pretty solid over the winter in my garage here in Minnesota, so I’ll see if I can revive it when it warms up. No idea if that’s possible! This leftover vat used thiox and soda ash.  I dislike the strong chemical smell of thiox/Rit Color Remover, so when I mix up my own vat from scratch next time I’ll try Michel Garcia’s organic fermented vat 1-2-3 technique.


*  Visit the Eco Print section of my ETSY SHOP. *


 





Eucalyptus Color Tests for Eco Printing

18 02 2017

I love to experiment!  It takes a certain amount of discipline and organization, but I’m always glad when I take the time. I mostly use my local leaves for eco printing, but I also love the colors and shapes of Eucalyptus leaves and seeds. Australian Eucalyptus, in the hands of India Flint, inspired the eco printing process, at least as I understand it. Since I’m a long way from Eucalyptus country here in Minnesota, I buy bunches from Trader Joe’s.

When I recently gathered up all my dried materials to move into studio space so I could spread out, I discovered quite a few dried Eucalyptus bunches I had stashed away!  (Is there a support group for Eucalyptus hoarders?)  The color from Eucalyptus leaves can vary from brown to orange to red, depending on many factors, including the type of Euca, growing conditions as well as the eco printing process. Knowing what color they will print is helpful when I want more control over design. So I decided to test my leaves for color, by taking a few leaves from each bunch. The tricky part was tracking which bunch the leaves came from… Here is my process.

  • Habotai silk fabric, Test 1 pre-mordanted in Alum at 20% WOF (weight of fiber); Test 2 no Alum
  • Bundled dry so I could track which leaves came from which branch.
  • Silk soaked in fairly weak rusty iron water about 10 minutes, as I’ve found a bit of iron brings out the richness of the colors in Euca leaves.
  • Plastic layer to TRY to keep the prints separate. (Interesting result, see below.)
  • Steamed 2 hours, over just barely simmering water. (My roaster was sluggish.)
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8 bunches of Eucalyptus (plus misc. leaves on right)

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Test 1: Eucas on silk pre-mordanted with Alum

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Test 1 Results

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Test 2: Silk no mordant (Eucas +2 poinsettia leaves on right end)

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Test 2 Results

RESULTS:

  • Leaves at 5 cm and 11 cm produced the strongest color. I think the leaves at 5 are the large Silver Dollar Euca.
  • Round leaves tended to produce more reds, although not all the round leaves did.
  • Alum pre-mordant didn’t make much of a difference. This was interesting, as I’ve heard you can’t get red from Euca leaves if you mordant with alum. Hmmm….
  • Plastic layer: All the strong reds snuck right through the plastic and repeat printed! The red prints on the far left end of both pieces are repeat prints from leaves at 5 cm. That was surprising!

So… keep some fabric scraps handy and keep experimenting!

Euca Maple scarf

Silk scarf eco printed with eucalyptus and maple leaves

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** View available scarves in the Eco Print section of my ETSY SHOP.**


 





Eco Print Workshop with Irit Dulman

9 11 2016

Fusion of Botanical Print and Natural Dyeing.  

I am SO behind on updating my eco printing blog!  Better late than never… I attended two wonderful eco printing workshops this past summer and fall. The first was with Irit Dulman, a master eco printer who lives in Israel, at the Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Island in Washington in June 2016.  She’s a master eco printer with the artistic eye of a designer, who seems to keep experimenting with new techniques.

I was able to combine my trip to Washington with a mini-college roommate reunion, since one lives only about an hour north of the art school. Here are some images of the workshop. Click on an image to see a larger view.  If you ever have the opportunity to take a workshop with Irit, go for it!  I learned so much.

Irit Dulman workshop

Some of my results:
Natural dyes: Logwood, Indigo, Cochineal and Weld
Leaves: Smokebush, Japanese maple, Sumac, Horse chestnut, etc.



** View available scarves in the Eco Print section of my ETSY SHOP.**






Eco Printing with Butternut Tree Leaves

26 04 2016

Butternut is one of my favorite leaves to eco print on silk. My friend Maria has a huge but ailing Butternut tree in her backyard here in Minneapolis and she’s not sure how much longer it will stand. Butternut trees have become fairly rare in this area, unlike the more common Black Walnut. We thought it would be nice to try printing leaves from her tree onto a silk scarf, so if/when the tree does have to come down, she’ll have a keepsake.

She saved me some leaves in the fall, after they had fallen. I pressed some that were still fairly fresh and dried the others in a grocery bag, as they were too crumpled and dry to press flat.  They printed beautifully, similar to Black Walnut leaves, but in a beautiful golden brown.

I folded the Habotai silk scarves when bundling to create a mirror image, showing both prints from the top and bottom of the leaves. I first soaked the scarves in a dilute solution of rusty iron water for about ½ hour to intensify the prints. I made a few so my friend could pick the one she liked the best. This is the one she picked:

Butternut leaf eco printed silk scarf

Butternut Leaf Eco Printed onto Silk Scarf, 31

Here are the other two scarves I printed using the Butternut leaves from her tree plus a few other leaves. To vary the effects, I used a layer of parchment paper on these two so the pigment from the leaf wouldn’t go through all the layers. I also wrapped the first scarf around a copper pipe instead of a wooden dowel. It would also be interesting to try Butternut leaves or nuts as a natural dye, although a bit tricky to get enough leaves from a huge tree or nuts before the squirrels get them!

Butternut eco printed silk scarf, 34

Butternut Leaf Eco Printed onto Silk Scarf, 31



** View available scarves in the Eco Print section of my ETSY SHOP.**


 





Eco Print Experiment: Silk Bundled Around Rusty Pipe

19 04 2016

Rusty iron intensifies the prints from leaves on fabric, and “saddens” or changes colors when used as a mordant with natural dyes. I found some HEAVY old iron window sash weights, thinking they might come in handy as a source of rust in the dyepot. I decided to experiment and tried using it in an Eco print bundle. It seemed like a LOT of potential rust, but gave it a try…

Eco print bundle with iron sash weight

Eco print bundle with iron sash weight 

The process: I sprayed a small silk scarf with 1:1 vinegar, added Eucalyptus and a few other leaves, tied it up and gently simmered it in a Eucalyptus-onion skin dyebath for about ½ hour with 3 other bundles. The color was looking pretty dark on the outside of the bundles, so I moved it to the steamer so it was no longer sitting in the dyebath, then steamed for at least another 1 ½ hours.

Here it is immediately after opening the bundle.  Too much of a good thing?  There was a dark rusty area on the scarf where it was in contact with the iron pipe that was a bit unsettling, but I love the depth of color in the rest of the scarf. To stop the action of the rust, I rinsed and washed it well, then soaked it 15 minutes in a dilute baking soda solution.  Some rust dyers say to use baking soda, others salt to neutralize the rust, so I also soaked it in a salt solution after that, about 1 T to 1 gallon water. (Using salt seems strange, since road salt causes the metal on our cars to rust here in Minnesota…)  Eco print with iron sash weight

The following images show both sides after washing, neutralizing the rust, and steam pressing. Too much rust?  I might try wrapping the iron weight in a couple layers of cotton before adding the sik scarf, to hopefully avoid the really intense rusty area in the middle…

I also had a few other scarves in the same batch, which show the effects of the iron sash weight in the Eucalyptus-Onion skin dyebath. The scarf on the left is 11″ wide Crepe de Chine silk, printed over a scarf that came out too light the first time. The long 8″ scarf on the right is Habotai silk, with Eucalyptus and maple leaves. I am quite happy with all 3 scarves!



** View available scarves in the Eco Print section of my ETSY SHOP.**









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