A Kumihimo “Snug” & Fall Leaves

I can’t believe how fast time is flying by this summer. Suddenly, every chore that should have been taken care of over the past several years is perking up and saying ‘do me, do me’! So, slowly, they are getting done but I can’t leave my preferred activities behind.

I found a bag of leaves that I had dried last fall. Decided they needed to be seen. They were printed on Crepe de Chine (as well as silk habotai) with a bit of iron to augment the coloring. Crepe de Chine has become my favorite silk for printing. I tried silk charmuese but it was just too shiny for my taste.

A month or so ago I found myself rummaging through some donated yarns and discovered some yarn that is typically used by rug weavers. Always on the lookout for unique yarns to use for my braids, I decided this yarn looked like a keeper. Not only does it have an interesting texture but it is also soft around the neck (very important). Have some more of this, slightly different patterning, and will be making another braid with it.

Getting Back To It

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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.

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Silk Habotai

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Silk Habotai

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Crepe de Chine

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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.

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.

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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.

Printing with Hamelia

The leaves of the hamelia (hummingbird bush) have always been a reliable source of green when printing.

This piece was printed with only the leaves of the hamelia and a few annatto seeds.

Add some eucalyptus and a bit of tannin (with a small assist from a bit of iron) and the hamelia still peaks out with a bit of greeen.

Add a bit more tannin (with an iron assist) and the green is still there.

How can anyone help not love this plant(its also a favorite of bees and hummingbirds).

P.S. Always use a bit of copper when printing hamelia. It helps bring out the greens.

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.

Paper Fun

Due to other projects I haven’t spent much time the last month doing botanical printing on scarves. Paper printing, however, doesn’t take the same amount of time for preparation so I’ve managed to get some of that done.

Paper printing is a lot of fun. Each piece becomes a miniature work of art. And like art, some are exquisite and some are just nice. The same processes can be be followed but Mother Nature also has a hand in the process. When the prints are ‘just nice’, adding some watercolors can help enhance them. (The papers pictured have not been enhanced in any way.)

These prints were all done on 140lb (300g) watercolor paper that had been dipped in aluminum sulfate and steamed for 2-3 hours.

They will make lovely cards. Perhaps a couple may end up in small frames.

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.

‘Felt the Need’

Even though it’s a crazy time of year, I felt the need to do some printing. Above I used some eucalyptus, hamelia (hummingbird bush)leaves, and a bit of sweet gum.

Here I used sweet gum, maple, rose leaves, a couple of sprinkles of tumeric, oak and sumac berries. There was so much tannin the overall look is brown.

My favorite is this one. The scarf is covered with rose leaves, hamelia leaves large and small, some sweet gum and madder root.

I’m very happy I ‘felt the need’ to do these as the supply I had at 18 Hands Gallery was almost depleted. I took these and a couple more I had forgotten before down there today. I am very thrilled there are so many people interested in (and buying) my work. Next year I’ll try doing fewer scarves and do more table runners, pillow covers, etc. And of course, I’ll be doing a lot more indigo shibori.

It’s been a good year. I’m looking forward to even bigger and better things next year.