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. *






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 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.**









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