Eco Printing Workshop with Robbin Firth

1 04 2016

Last weekend I had the opportunity to take an eco printing workshop with Robbin Firth, of Heartfelt Silks in Hudson, Wisconsin. I had seen a few images of her work, and love her rich, densely printed fabrics. They remind me of watercolors. It’s a different style from how I’ve been working, as I usually love seeing the distinct shapes and detailed veining of the leaves. But it’s good to learn about different approaches and techniques, plus the class was less than an hour’s drive….

I was too busy playing with all the great leaves Robin had gotten from a florist friend (still too early here for local leaves) so I forgot to take pictures. I did manage one “before” picture and here are my 3 completed scarves. The darker two were wrapped around copper pipes and steamed about 1.5 hours. The lighter scarf was wrapped around a dowel and simmered.

Eco print scarves

3 eco printed scarves from workshop with Robbin Firth

Leaves on silk scarf

“Before” image, tropical leaves and silk scarf wrapped around copper pipe

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

Eco printing on eggs

27 03 2016

I hadn’t used leaves and natural dyes to decorate Easter eggs in years, but since I seem to want to print leaves on everything these days, from cloth to clay, it was time to try it again. All my eggs were brown, so I stopped at the co-op to pick up some white ones to dye, and raided the bottom of the onion bins for skins. After a huge Easter brunch out with my friend Maria, I found a few small yarrow leaves that were up in the garden, plus some small sprays from a cedar tree. We layered the leaves under the onion skins, wrapped them in pieces of old pantyhose and rubber bands, and simmered for 10-15 minutes.

I love the golden brown the onion skin dye often produces, although Maria pointed out that the color wasn’t that different from my brown eggs!

Eco printed eggs

Eggs with leaves and onion skins

and on clay…


Eco Printing in Mexico

18 03 2016

In January 2016 I was invited by some Minnesota friends to teach a mini-workshop on eco printing in Puerto Morelos, Mexico to a Mexican artisan friend of theirs in exchange for staying at their winter home there. I had been dreaming of a winter vacation where I could experiment with tropical leaves while spending time by the ocean, so the timing was perfect!  We had a great time and I think my new Mexican friend is hooked too.

Angelica knew many local plants and trees, and I shared the info I knew so far about eco printing. After some experimenting, we found some local leaves that printed well. We also used rusty iron water and alum as mordants, made a dye bath of onion skins, tried bundling with and without a plastic barrier, etc.  Here are some images from the week, including the enormous tamale steamer we used over a 4 burner propane stove to steam the bundles.

If you ever get to Puerto Morelos, about an hour south of Cancun, look up Angelica at her stall in the Artisan Market, or the evening markets in the square to check out her “paintings with leaves”.

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

Adventures in Eco Printing

18 03 2016

A chronicle of my adventures with my new creative passion, eco-printing!  It seems like a perfect fit, combining my previous interests with natural dyes and leaf printing with inks, which I shared with many groups of all ages at Wilder Forest, a camp and conference center outside Stillwater, Minnesota. I coordinated nature-related arts and crafts programming part-time over the years. (My favorite job!)

What is eco printing? A direct contact dye technique which coaxes the natural pigments from plants with heat. I use mostly leaves, but prints can also be made from bark, flowers, berries, and other plant parts. The dye from some plants and trees, like the black walnut tree, are strong dyes that don’t easily wash out or fade in the sun. Those are called substantive dyes. Other plants produce color that doesn’t last on the fabric and are called fugitive dyes. Most berries and flowers fall into the fugitive dye category.  The key is to EXPERIMENT with local plants. Here are a few examples of my more successful experiments.

16 before

Before: Sumac, Eucalyptus, Rose + leaves laid out on silk

16 close-up medium

After: Leaves eco printed on silk with repeating pattern


eco printed silk scarves

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


100 Iconic Cameras

28 10 2013

Milners Blog

Such a beautiful poster from the guys over at Pop Chart Lab, a meticulously illustrated catalogue of 100 landmark cameras, put together from over a century of our photographic history, depicting both professional and amateur models, I’ve still got a 1952 Leica M3, and a 1982 Ricoh KR10 Super which looks the strikingly similar to the illustrated 1982 Nikon FM2.

This is a must have print for us photography geeks…which ones have you still got?

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Back home in Minneapolis

30 03 2013

I was a bit surprised to see the deep snow in my front yard when I returned home on Tuesday from the Nashville area. Had a nice visit there with my cousin Jan, her husband John.

Here in Mpls I’m staying with my friend Maria by Lake Harriet until my winter renters leave April 1st. I’m easing back into my life here in Mpls. The warm water therapy pool at The Marsh is like magic! Travel/walking took a toll on my worn out knees, but after the pool session this morning I climbed the stairs like nothing was wrong. Feeling hopeful…

Photos: my front yard, cousin Janice and Casey in Nashville, and the front door at The Marsh.


20 03 2013

I’m now in Lexington, Kentucky visiting my friend Fran and her husband Richard for a week. This is definitely horse country; miles and miles of fencing, although I actually haven’t seen many horses outside. Maybe because its been unseasonably cold here, 30’s and 40’s? Good thing I bought a jacket and some warm clothes at a thrift store in Oregon. Spring was farther along in Oregon than here; daffodil image below is from OR. The other is lenten roses here in KY.

On Friday I drive down to Nashville (3 1/2 hour drive) to visit my ‘cuz Janice and husband John, I’m hoping it warms up a bit and Tennessee spring flowers are blooming.

Fewer posts now that I’m no longer in the more exotic tropics, you may have noticed. Tuesday March 26 I fly home to Minneapolis to stay with friend Maria until I can move back into my house April 1st. Looking forward to it… As Dorothy learned, “There’s no place like home!”

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