Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ecoprinting with logwood, and yes, I'm still alive

I've now managed to go more than a year without posting, despite, or perhaps because of, a diverse array of fiber-related adventures.  I'll try to catch up a little bit, starting with more recent endeavours and then working my way backwards.  Apologies for the photo quality, but part of laziness means taking photos with an iPad and not doing any editing.

At the end of October, I had the good fortune to enjoy an evening of ecoprint dyeing at Maiwa with India Flint.  She introduced the group to the basic technique of bundling leaves or other plant material into a piece of fabric and then steaming or immersion dyeing in order to transfer plant pigments onto fabric.  The workshop moved too quickly to get much in the way of actual leaf prints, but I ended up with a nice silk scarf dyed in a range of amber browns from the eucalyptus leaves and branches that we used in the dye pot.

Afterwards, I bought some alum, gallnut tannin, and logwood chips and experimented over a period of several weeks. Using Maiwa's natural dye instructions, along with miscellaneous other sources, I mordanted some silk scarf blanks and applied both tannin and mordant to some cotton and linen-cotton mix fabrics.

For my first dye session, I gathered all manner of fall leaves:

I had asked India about using fig leaves, and she suggested soaking them in iron water first, which is why those leaves are in a bucket, along with a few leaves from our backyard smoke tree for good measure.  The other leaves, which came from various spots in the neighborhood, I used as is.  Here's how things looked after layout, bundling, and dyeing:

I managed to wait about 24 hours before unwrapping.  Here are some of the results:

The Japanese maple prints didn't stay red--they faded to a light caramel brown after washing.  Meanwhile, the fig leaves in iron water (underneath the top scarf, on the lower part of the photo) didn't print very clearly, but that scarf ended up with an interesting yellowish cast that the other scarves lack.

The best results came from a heavier weight silk charmeuse scarf:

I don't know how or why, but some of the leaves printed strongly with a beautiful gold-bronze, and there are all sorts of green splotches in addition to the purple tints from the logwood, and gold-browns from the leaves.  The charmeuse seems to give everything a remarkable pearly sheen.  I've pressed the scarf properly since taking these photos.  I'll cut up the other three scarves for fabric, but this one is worth wearing.  It's not the most sophisticated example of ecoprinting, especially since I didn't think about how I was bundling--hence the rectangular-ish purple block in one corner.  But it's not bad at all for a first solo outing.

More soon!

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