Getting Back To It

May 9 2017 013

Crepe de Chine

Been busy this spring focusing on things other than my botanical printing. Have printed a few since the end of last year but some of them ended up looking like I had completely lost my ‘mojo’. The leaves I had dried or frozen just didn’t look like they were coming through for me. There were a few gems, however, that I was very pleased with.

May 9 2017 012

Silk Habotai

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Silk Habotai

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Crepe de Chine

May 9 2017 022

Silk Habotai

I just started using crepe de chine. I like the softness of print that you can get with silk chiffon but sometimes it is too soft. Crepe de chine still results in soft images but they are a bit bolder.

Also acquired some silk charmeuse. Have printed one and am very pleased. It is still resting before the wash. Will post the results later.

Natural Dye Experiments

Haven’t had much time to do any eco printing recently but still had the need to do ‘something’. While reorganizing my studio spaces after the new flooring, I came across some botanicals I had stashed for a play day. I had a lot of acorns and a pile of avocado pits (I had to take out of my freezer to make room for food. Can you imagine!). I also had a stash of pomegranate rinds.

I had purchased some linen and used aluminum acetate as a mordant. The first things I ‘cooked up’ were the pomegranate rinds. They were covered with water and simmered for an hour or so. I got a nice brown solution. I ripped off a piece of the linen and simmered it in half of my pomegranate solution. After an hour of simmering I let the fabric sit in the pot for a day. After drying the fabric sat for a few days before washing.

pomegranate feb 2017

Pomegranate

I read that tumeric will become a bit more lightfast when combined with pomegranate. So I added some tumeric to the rest of my pomegranate solution. The fabric simmered for an hour, sat in the solution for a day, was dried and allowed to sit for a few days before washing. To test the lightfastness, I have torn off a strip of fabric from the sample. Half of the strip is laying on a north facing windowsill. The other half of the strip is in a dark drawer. Will check them in about 3 months.

acorn/tumeric-pomegranate feb 2017

Acorn-Tumeric w/Pomegranate

To the left of the tumeric fabric, in the above photo, is the fabric I dyed with acorns. I had 2 gallon sized zipper bags full. I put all of them in a pot, covered them with water and simmered until I had a beautiful dark brown solution. Using a third of the solution I simmered a piece of linen for about an hour. I let it dry and sit for a couple of days before I washed it. I don’t think the photo shows what a wonderful golden brown the fabric became.

avocado pits/acorn feb 2017

Avocado Pits-Acorn

In the photo above, to the left of the acorn fabric, is the fabric dyed with avocado pits. I had about 50 avocado pits which had started to develop a nice mold. I covered these with water and simmered them for about an hour or two. I used about one third of the resulting solution to dye this piece of fabric. This fabric was also allowed to rest after drying for a couple of days before washing.

In all the examples, the plant material was processed in a stainless steel pot. The solution was obtained after straining off the plant material. All the solutions used were diluted with water to allow for the fabric to move freely in the dye bath. The fabric was also processed in a stainless steel pot.

avocado/acorn/tumeric/pomegranate feb 2017

Avocado Pits-Acorn-Tumeric w/Pomegranate
Pomegranate

I think all the colors came out beautifully. I’m ready to do more.

Getting Ready for the CHH Annual Sale

I was gathering together the items I had selected to be in this year’s sale. When it was time for me to pick out a few of my eco print scarves, I came across one that I kept going back to look at. Many eco printers strive to have perfect prints of each piece of foliage they place on their fabric. Their results are very stunning. I, however, like to have a few identifiable leaves in my work but enjoy the shapes and subtle colors of the other botanicals (not all will produce color or distinct patterns) that are also used on the same piece of fabric. To me, this gives the piece a great deal of depth.

This shows the outline of pine needles to the left and the leaf ribs on the bottom.

More leaf ribs and subtle color.

Leaf shapes everywhere especially a magnificent oak.

16-4-1-1 A

A sweet gum drifting in the background.

The more I looked at this scarf the more I knew it was not going to go to the sale. It has moved to my closet where I would be able to select it to wear whenever the muses strike.

P.S. The CHH Annual Sale is November 17 – 19 at the Guild House. Check http://www.weavehouston.org for more details.

More Botanical Printing

I’ve been spending a great deal of time this summer on my indigo processes; resist methods and dyeing. I do, however, try to sneak in a bit of time for some botanical printing.

There were a couple of batches that I am particularly fond of. The colors and images just seemed to be in harmony.

My favorite leaves for images are oak, pecan and sweet gum. There are other leaves,however, that leave wonderful tints and shadowy hints of their presence. Those are the leaves that give the pieces their overall look.

I will admit not all the leaves are from my area. My sister-in-law does send me small periodic parcels containing a few of the leaves from her area in the Michigan woods. I happily include those in my compositions.

Simmer vs Steam

This print done primarily with pecan leaves, some sumac and annatto seeds was covered with an iron blanket and processed in a simmering bath.

This print done with oak leaves, pine needles and onion skins was covered with an iron blanket and processed over steam.

Both pieces were processed for the same amount of time and show, virtually, no real difference in appearance. I had also done an experiment using the same young fresh leaves and some hibiscus tea on two different scarves. One was simmered and the other steamed for the same length of time. I found no color difference between the two.

I see samples done by others who note they have steamed their pieces and there is definitely leaf coloration in their prints that I am not seeing in mine. All of my test pieces are silk habotai and have been processed in alum in the same way. I’ll continue doing this experiment with different leaves at different stages to see if that is the determining factor.

At Last!

It’s been way too long since my last post but I do have a couple of interesting botanical prints to write about.

One of the more difficult fabrics to offer up interesting prints is chiffon. The fabric is such an open weave that the most one can hope for is some interesting (and it usually happens) color. This time, however, a small piece of silk chiffon fooled me.

The hamelia leaves as well as the sweet gum did themselves proud. The annatto seeds provided a bit of color. The very vague and disappointing print is a grapefruit leaf. Otherwise, very nice result.

The other piece is one that I had promised to publish a couple of weeks ago. It is the scarf that was covered by the iron blanket I wrote about. It is a beauty. Don’t know that I can part with this one. The oak leaves and the onion skins are a perfect complement to the red of the madder root.

Humble Beginnings

Sometimes those things relegated to secondary roles become amazing and first rate themselves. Above is a small piece of old cotton (was a sheet once) that was used several times as a wrap over scarves when I didn’t want the wrapping string marks to show on the finished piece. Under the final prints and dye bath color can be seen shadowy shapes and colors from previous uses. This piece will now be set aside to be used as a backdrop for some stitching. It will grow up to be greater than it was.

This piece was an ‘iron blanket’. In my workshop it is a piece of cotton (a piece of old sheet) dipped in a diluted iron solution then placed over the top of a scarf before it was rolled up for the dye bath. This piece has even more interesting color and shadow prints than the wrap above as this was placed directly over the leaves on the scarf before it was rolled up. The last time it was used there were some beautiful oak leaves and a dye bath rich with madder extract. This beauty is destined to be a wall hanging.