February 20, 2016

eco-printing - blackberry leaves and privet berries

Even though eco-printing exists since quite some time, it seems to be really in at the moment. There are so many workshop-offers, and the internet is full of tutorials, and pictures of amazing eco-printed pieces of art! I made my first eco-printing experience last summer: I collected some random flowers, branches, leaves and berries, laid them onto a piece of cotton fabric and rolled it up into a loose bundle. I threw the bundle into some boiling water for an hour or so, rinsed it with some cold water so I could open it - et voilĂ ! My piece of fabric had an undeniable similarity with a dirty cleaning cloth. After this first disappointment I gave up.... until this winter! Just the most ungrateful time of the year when you want a variety of what the local flora has to offer. I have no idea what kind of european plants are good for eco-printing. When searching for informations, I read a lot about eucalyptus leaves and a series of other exotic plants that don't grow in europe. All I could find during my walk through the woods were blackberry leaves, a pine branch and some mysterious berries (by now I know they are privet berries!). 

I informed myself about mordants, which of them are toxic and how to use them. I decided to go with a rather harmless iron mordant. I read about the importance of scouring the fibers, by washing them (or even boiling them) in some sopy water. I boiled my cotton fabrics for about an hour in sopy water, and laid it flat on the table, without rinsing out the soap. 

Afterwards I dipped each blackberry leave into the iron mordant before laying it onto one of the fabrics. I wasn't quite sure which side of the leave should touch the fabric, so I varied a little bit. My biggest worry was the thick thorns of the blackberry leaves, which penetrated the fabric. I still don't know how to solve this problem in the future. Maybe by pressing them for some time before using it for printing?

I put the privet berries on another piece of fabric. 

Some onion skins, black tea, and blackberry leaves on the third one.

Here they are - ready for a bath steam:

and just after the 2 steamy hours:

blackberry leaves

privet berries 

Onion skins, black tea and blackberry leaves.
Sadly those becuatiful colors changed after their mordant dip.

Here they are, drying after an iron bath.

cotton fabric
blackberry leaves, privet berries, onion skins, black tea, 
 iron mordant

the fabric dyed with the blackberry leaves became this pillow
and the one dyed with the privet berries became this one

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