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.

More Fun at 18 Hands

This Saturday, December 12th, the “Normally in January but
why not in December” Earring Slam Jam is being held at 18 Hands Gallery. The show is from 11 am – 5 pm. 18 Hands is located at 249 W. 19th St in the Heights. Phone Number is 713-869-3099. There will be champagne and chocolate fondue.

Below are some of the earrings I’ll have there and there are also some of my eco print scarves available in the gallery.

A sampling of my scarves.

Always Time

The past month has been very busy. There was the Handweaver’s Sale, The international Quilt Festival, getting the Guild House Gallery back up and now my Trunk Show. But in spite of it all, there was still some time to be found doing a bit of eco printing.

I’m not overly fond of satin silk but when it’s printed there is a shimmering depth to the prints that can’t be ignored.

A more difficult fabric is silk chiffon. Due to the sheerness of the fabric, it is difficult to see much of a print. This one, however, surprised me.

The first 2 prints were processed together in a madder root bath and had a bit of tumeric sprinkled on them.

This was done with a combination of dry and fresh leaves. The print turned out more faintly than I had hoped but a quick dip in iron water gave it new life.

Another combination dry and fresh print. This one turned out more to my liking especially with the wonderful purple prints of the dried Texas Star hibiscus flower.

Another combination print. With the eucalyptus and tea sprinkles it looks completely different than the rest.

The last 3 prints were processed together and are silk habotai.

CHH Annual Sale

Getting everything together for the Contemporary Handweavers of Houston Annual Sale. I had so much fun with the felted soap last year so I had to make some more. I also have a couple of kumihimo neckpieces and loomed bracelets to include. But my very favorite things are the eco printed/dyed scarves I have been making all year. Also managed to get some indigo pieces done.

Hope to see some of you there. It’s October 22nd through the 24th at Guild House. Check http://www.weavehouston.org for more details.

New Textile Book

As soon as I saw this was available, I treated myself.  It was all I expected it to be. There were no ‘little projects’ to be found.  There are just some interesting ideas to get me thinking about how I could expand my eco printing and natural dyeing projects.

In the book, Alice includes ideas about collecting found objects. I know there are a lot of books containing that subject but it is good to be reminded periodically. She talks about collecting ‘colors’, how to make natural ink, how to select items for rust printing, weaving and twining with natural materials, combining techniques and more. In addition to all that, it is a pleasure to look at. It is one of the books I don’t store on the bookshelf but keep out to review.

I recommend this book for anyone interested in using natural materials and found items in their textile work.

Tried Something New

I have been following several eco print groups on Facebook. There are lots of great ideas, beautiful results and helpful people in all these groups. Every now and again there will be a tip or trick that I feel I can apply to my work. Sometimes they turn out and sometimes they don’t.

The scarves on the left side of each of the above photos are an example of a very interesting tip. After the mordant prepared silk was soaked in vinegar water and covered with foliage, I covered the whole thing with a piece of cloth soaked in ferrous sulphate (iron water) before it was rolled up for processing. Amazing what happened. The scarves on the right were processed as I would normally process eucalyptus leaves to maintain the beautiful color.

I decided to take this idea one step further and try it on a couple of scarves that did not turn out satisfactorily the first time.

Now the sweet gum, eucalyptus, and bamboo really show up. The color is great.

Here the oak leaves provided a great resist.

The results were wonderful. It made me go back through all the scarves I had processed so far to see if any of them could use a little boost.