Seasonal Shifts In My Creative Cycle

Seasonal Shifts In My Creative Cycle

Today I’m linking up again with Nina’s Off The Wall Friday.  You may want to see what she’s up to!

It’s the little things that add up to the most important leaps on the learning curve. The details that make for finesse. That make the difference between a committed professional and an amateur (not the amount of money one makes.) I’m coming to the end of my first season of eco-printing.  Although I’ve learned how to reduce the fumes indoors of the iron rich liquids, the cooking indoors is more than I want for much longer.  I just had to continue until I reached a satisfactory amount of progress in this process. Also, it’s just time to delve into making things with all the fabrics I’ve made since June.  Well, I’ve still been making things but it’s not been the focus of my efforts and it’s almost that time again.  It’s as if I had a day job and a night job, fabric production by day and assembly and sewing by night.

Cotton is the most difficult to succeed at in contact printing with natural plants.  But I could not afford to practice with the easier but more expensive silk.  So, most of what I’ve done has been cotton, including those I’m showing you now but I’m quite pleased with the latest batches, the colors are getting richer and the details more pronounced.

I started adding  a slight amount of madder sprinkled onto the overall layout. It’s barely perceptible here but it does add a bit of color intrigue.

Sumac. Madder.
Sumac with madder
3487 copy 2.
Mostly Oak Leaves

Because I’m gaining some control in the process,  compositions are better, more focused.

Various leaves, focus on rose leaves.
Detail, rose leaves

I have a large batch still waiting to be washed and I’m about to finish up and make the last run of eco-prints for the season. Not saying I won’t be doing any more at all but more on an as needed basis, or if my now strong addiction pulls me back into it for a fix!  LOL!  Same for screen prints and such.  So, after the next post or so, you’ll see more things being made into finished products. This is how my creative cycle has emerged as a seasonal process and I think I like it this way.  It suits my need to change things up, to keep doing different things so I don’t get bored. To get outdoors in good weather and to keep me going during the long winter.

Thanks to you all for staying with me and coming along with me for the ride!  It’s hard for me to believe this will be my 158th blog post on WordPress!  The act of documenting my journey has indeed helped me to pay attention and stay on course.  But your feedback energizes me – keeps me on my toes.  Acknowledgement is a great motivator – THANK YOU!

More Eco Prints

More Eco Prints

Just in the nick of time, as my working outdoors season comes to an end, I’m finally making some real progress in the eco-printing process.  These are all cotton, as is most of what I’ve printed.

No. 26.
No. 26
No No.
No 30.

This is one of my most recent batches and one for which I used a newly devised system for tracking the various steps taken.  So, No. 27 was first soaked in a tannin of bracken water overnight and dried on the clothesline.The reason I chose to do this step is to try to adjust for my hard water with an alkaline solution.

Next, this  was simmered in an aluminum sulfate and soda ash mordant for an hour.  I let it cool and soaked it in the pot overnight. Line dried; rinsed, then soaked in a soymilk mordant overnight and hung to  dry.  Finally, I dipped it in soymilk and let dry again.

The leaves soaked overnight in rusty iron water and flowers were frozen. After I laid it out and positioned the leaves and flowers, I sprayed the whole thing with vinegar water. This is how it looks after a good rinse with clear, cold water and a wash with a mild, no phosphate dish detergent in the washing machine.

No. 27.

Unfortunately I didn’t record what I processed it in or how, but I know I simmered it (I think in a mixture of rusty and bracken waters) for at least 2 hours and also microwaved it and let it set for 2 or 3 days before unwrapping (see below).

No. 27 just opened.
No. 27. Detail.
No. 27, Detail, although it’s actually more yellow as in the full photo above.

The outdoor studio is broken down and almost all is put away until next year.  I’m tuckered out from going up and down the stairs a zillion times lugging all the stuff (and so is Bill, thank you very much!).  I’m still getting it resettled upstairs for the long winter but it’s almost done – whew!

Linking up again – Nina Marie’s Off The Wall Friday.

Eco Printing

Eco Printing

You know I’ve been enamored with eco-prints for quite awhile now. In the summer of 2011, I gave it a first try and I was encouraged by the results but a long way off from what I wanted:   DSCN0336 DSCN0332

Last winter I tried a brief experiment that was encouraging.  I had discovered Elena  and her “optimization method” of contact printing and posted about it on the “And Then We Set It On Fire” blog last April.

So this year I made another attempt in  July and that was a dismal failure!  I won’t bother with the photos because there’s hardly anything to see.  So then, after I accomplished my goals around deconstructive screen printing, and other procion dye experiments, I set myself back to the what has turned out to be the most challenging task of the year!

This is where I started with some leaves I expected to print well and some I had no clue about.


All wrapped up around a birch log and tied tight. Boiled for about an hour and a half, maybe 2.
The result was this…great black print of only two of the leaves! Sheesh!








No matter how much I read I seemed to be going backwards.  I have India Flint’s Eco Dyeing and Jenny Dean’s The Craft Of Natural Dyeing.  They are packed with info but both of them are more focused on Dyeing than printing.  I need to get both of their newer books!  And now that I have a little more experience at this, I’m getting more out of India’s book now. Online, there’s a lot of contradictory information out there on the subject and quite a bit that’s outright wrong.  Yet some of these folks are getting fabulous prints while I’ve been underwhelmed with my results and it’s not from not trying!  I am a persistent beetch – out there every day this month!

And finally, I’m just beginning to make some progress.  Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how because I’ve been like a madwoman in a frenzy, completely unable to record and/or remember what I did in each case and because I can’t afford to keep buying and ruining fabric, I keep overdyeing while I learn!  Well, actually I kind of love some of it so it’s not really ruined but not really what I was after.  I will, however, find some perfect places to use them.

This is a piece of silk organza that has taken the color so nicely.
Finally, something I actually like.








However, I can tell you a couple of important things about this process. There are many , many factors that play at your results from your local water quality and environmental factors that affect the plants as well as the water to what equipment you use and what kind of fabric you’re printing on…whether it’s wet or dry, cotton, silk or wool and so on and on.  More on this subject in an upcoming post!

Linking up with Nina Marie’s Off The Wall Friday once again.