Autumn colours eco print

I have been trying to catch the autumn leaves before they all blow away!   This post was started a few weeks ago, and I have published others before getting round to finishing this one.

The leaves have been used for eco prints on paper and cloth. I have been using lots of different mordants to soak paper and cotton – alum, washing soda, copper, tannin, gelatine and acorns, both alone and in different combinations.

Here is a collage of the the result on various pieces of cotton fabric, pre soaked for a few days in tannin, alum and washing soda and iron water.  I added iron filings when I put the packages together – was a bit heavy handed – but which produced a beautiful result where they touched Cotinus coggygria leaves.  Leaves used were acer, cotinus, oak, acacia both fresh and frozen, and iris and rose petals.  The fabrics were folded or rolled and weighted down with ceramic tiles.

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A wood block depicting a pin oak leaf was printed on to Pescia cotton 300 gsm printmaking paper which was later soaked with the cotton fabric. I rolled this paper and some of the fabric in layers around a wood core, using Phormium tenax or harakeke roots in the final layer of cotton. The same leaves were used as in the cotton bundles above, except with the addition of iron filings, vinegar and some Hypericum solar dye bath to which had been added salt and vinegar for a wool and thread dye experiment. My usual over-enthusiasm…

I managed to cram all of this into the steamer – there is a new, larger setup now.

The Pescia paper print, overprinted with cotinus and iron filings at the top and various other leaves below, follows.

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The reverse of this Pescia paper roll – showing an iris petal and rose petals still attached.

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The winter flowering iris plant that grows in the garden.

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Here the cotton has picked up the green of the iris petal.
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I was delighted with the result on this pre-used cotton poplin type fabric.  A mixture of defined and watery images.  The bias binding has taken up the colour extremely well.  It is an unused, old roll and quite stiff, so I wonder if it is starched.

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Here is another view.  The rusty red came from a pink rose petal.

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Another view of the blue-black colour created by the iron filings.

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Autumn Leaves on Paper and Cloth

I had the opportunity to collect leaves from a friend’s garden. She has the most wonderful collection of shrubs and trees, all good candidates for natural printing.  I made three separate bundles using paper from three different pre-steam soaks.

Pescia 300 gsm paper  was put in a brew of brown rain water and ivy branch and leaves which had collected in a rusty wheelbarrow. The paper was there for nearly three days. Secondly, and for the same amount of time, I placed Fabriano artistico 360 gsm paper, (synthetic) lining fabric and pre-used poplin cotton in another mordant – an alum and washing soda bath.

Thirdly, a piece of white paper was soaked in a rust bath.  As usual the planned method of preparation flew out the door when I then added a little of the rusty water from this water + vinegar and iron objects on to the lining fabric which was on top of the second soaking pile.

All the leaves were from the freezer. The full sheet of Pescia paper I folded to fit the steamer, as I wanted a large complete sheet for a project that is part of a forthcoming group show. Into the rolled paper and fabric from the alum bath, I put more of the same leaves and bound them up with unmordanted wide cotton bias binding at which point I introduced some dried harakeke roots (NZ flax plant, Phormium cultivars).  The image below shows these two  bundles in the steamer.

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Below is the alum Fabriano paper on its cylindrical cardboard core again.  I make sure I roll the wet paper and leaves tightly when rolling up the bundle.  I do find the bias binding works well.

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Unwinding this bundle.  It contained vine leaves, cotinus, acer, maple, sycamore and other deciduous leaves – I have to consult the owner about the more unusual plants…  The vine leaves were a glorious blend of reds, greys and black, so I was interested to see the quite stunning result – for me at least!

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Another view of this bundle of two sheets of paper – it is the left hand side of the image above, the vine leaf removed.  Some of the vine leaf is still stuck to the paper.  It was removed when dry.

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This is a further image of the still wet papers.

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I particularly  like the shape of this leaf, which I think is from a tulip tree – Liriodendron.

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Here is the lining fabric and the cotton bias binding from the rust paper print.  (If you sew, you will know what that is!)

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All the above image are when the material was wet.   So today I photographed the dried and ironed fabric.  Immediately below is the lining fabric, and another image of the same piece.  When I iron the fabric I like to keep the embossing from the leaf veins.

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The definition of the leaves is a lovely instance of chance – the darker areas behind the leaf giving the appearance of depth.

Finally, below is the cotton fabric from the alum and washing soda mordant bath: the leaf shapes not distinct.

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The tannin bath print (two images below) was not so spectacular as the ones from the alum bath; but still quite subtle.  The definition on the printing paper – Pescia (56 x 76 cms | 22 x 30 inches) – is not so good, but I think there was not enough pressure on the package even though it was well weighted down.  I wonder if the one hour steam was too long, so I will experiment with a shorter one.  It is almost as if there is too much water accumulating between the sheets of paper.  I may have soaked the paper for too long as well.  I should try taking off the excess water by pressing between sheets of butchers paper before laying on the plant material (as you do when printing).  This image was taken when the paper was dry.

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This is the ‘back’ below.  I do to know why it is so very mono-colour, but possibly the absence of the vine leaves explains this.  And the alum which always seems to give a yellow/green cast to the colour range.

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Here are other papers from this steam.  This is the third bundle, bound with bias binding.  The outer paper was the rust print.

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In the photo below, the paper with the oil based ink dry point (to the right)  was included in the tannin bath.  All papers are dry.

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I have to say, my rust prints are very rusty.  For a couple of days nothing seems to happen, then there is more rust than I would like the next day.  This is what I mean.  This is the other side of the paper above – and the leaf print is very black!

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The top sheet of paper here has some lovely, abstract detail.

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This was an exciting outcome for me.  I just love this process.  Many thanks to Faye and Dave Marshall for providing the leaves.

Eco Print Silk Bundles – Montbretia flowers

Another misadventure?  But with a happy outcome.

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In February, I used my last large piece of silk, to enclose montbretia flowers, hydrangea leaves, hypericum leaves, dock seeds on a stem x 4, and pink dahlia buds (broken up), and put on to steam for 30 minutes on a low heat (No 2 setting). Accompanying this bundle was a smaller one, containing the same material except without the dock seeds.  Put the lid on the pot and made sure the steam was not too fierce.

After a while, because of a strong blast of wind as the southerly front arrived, I had to concentrate on quickly picking up the cabbage tree leaves (Cordyline australis) off the back lawn.  I thought of the possible steam damage, and finding a new cabbage leaf (it’s supple) I had the idea of using that for an outer cover – which you can see above in the photo.  Wondered if it would transfer any colour as well.  A piece of bark, possibly Acacia melynoxilon, was also added on top.  The water seemed to have stopped steaming so I upped the temperature to 2.5 for the last ten minutes.

At this point the small bundle was taken out.  At both ends of the bundle I dropped on some red cabbage dye (turned blue by the action of some ash mordant) and then some wineberry dye in the middle.  It was left to dry on a piece of paper, but as a lot of the dye came out of the bundle, I put it back in the steam pot once that was turned off.

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The large bundle was next subjected to 30 more minutes of steaming as some of the pink colour inside was not transferring to the silk.  The montbretia petals dyed the silk a lovely golden yellow.  When that was done, I left both bundles on the rack overnight.  I decided to keep both bundles to mature for one month, which I did by leaving them in separate open snap lock bags, and untying them on 11 March.

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This was the result!  A rather sorry looking object, mouldy and still damp in the middle.

Here is the opened large bundle!

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The large leaf here is hypericum, leaving a red stain.  Lots of decayed plant material.

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And this is the cleaned, ironed bundle:

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The smaller silk bundle:

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