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. *






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.**






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.**









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