Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Transitioning: Good-bye Summer, Hello Autumn

Summer rarely hangs on until the last day here in southern New England. Fall is in the air usually a good week before the official autumnal equinox. The same is true this year. Since last Friday, the temperatures have been in the mid 60's F and cooler at night. The sun has set by 7 p.m. The leaves are beginning to change color and some are even beginning to fall.

Yes, the sunny, warm, seemingly endless days of summer have come to an end. I really enjoyed this summer. I will miss it, but I also look forward to the days of transition ahead. Transitioning from shorts to jeans; from sandals to socks and closed shoes; from wet hair to blow dried; from whites, yellows and bright greens of summer home decor to rusts, browns and dark greens of autumn; from margaritas to apple cider, cinnamon and bourbon; from papermaking to printmaking.

I am once again taking the Monotype/Monoprint class at Creative Arts Workshop. I start this evening. I am going to build on what I started in the summer class and start new projects as well. Today I am working on a simple design of wildflowers that I will cut from linoleum and use primarily as a background. I am planning to do a series of prints featuring wildflowers on the naturally dyed cotton paper I made. If I can figure out how to thicken the ink I made from Viburnum acerifolium berries and Salvia officinalis, I will use these as well. If not, I have other projects in mind for those.
Design on "wonder-cut" linoleum before carving

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September Mushrooms

Walking around my front yard a week or so ago, I came across a variety of different mushrooms growing in the "lawn". Mushrooms have been growing in several locations all summer. I would come upon them while walking to my car or getting the mail, etc. Going back later to take photos was too late. Either the squirrels had eaten the caps or they had turned slimy. This day, I stopped what I was doing, got my camera and took these photos. I find them intriguing. I know nothing of mycology, but hope to learn what varieties these are.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Garden Sage Dyed Cotton Pulp

I read in the book Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles by India Flint that the leaves of garden sage make a red dye. This intrigued me and since I have several very robust Salvia officinalis plants, I decided to try it. I believe this must be a misprint. It is more than likely that the purple flowers will yield a red dye. I will try that next June. In the meantime I am very pleased with the sage green I got from these leaves.

leaves before cooking dyed pulp before & after rinsing

the dried, finished sheets

I simmered some of the used dye bath until it was reduced to half. The color is very dark. I believe this will make a wonderful ink.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cotton Rag Pulp Dyed with Red Cabbage Part 2

L to R: dye before adding mordanted fiber, after; half of each
After seeing some photos of different types of fabrics dyed with red cabbage leaves, I was smitten! The varying shades of purples, lavenders and violets had me hooked! Unfortunately for me, I was working with cotton pulp, not silk or wool fabric.*

I planted three red cabbages in the spring having read that they are good dye plants. I harvested them from the garden on Monday, removed the outer greenish blue leaves, then cut up both the head and outer leaves. I cooked them in separate batches hoping to get two different colors from the same plants. The outer leaves did not yield any color, even after simmering for an hour and a half. The purple heads did release their color in just 20 minutes.

I pre-mordanted the cotton pulp the same as I have been, as recommended for cotton cloth in Wild Color by Jenny Dean. The author suggests using alum and washing soda (as a neutralizer to the acidic alum) to mordant the cotton before dyeing.
I added the cotton to the strained dye bath, brought to a simmer and simmered for 20 minutes. The color of the dye bath seemed to change before my eyes! it went from lavender to a greyish blue to bright cotton candy blue!

I divided the pulp in half and added a small amount of white vinegar to one batch. This turned a magenta color.

On Tuesday I performed the very smelly job of rinsing these pulps. I was sad to see the color being washed out as I did so. I wonder if I had let the pulp sit in the dyebath overnight, rather than draining it right away, would the color have been darker?

blue pulp in vat
Today I made paper from the two batches of pulp. It is difficult to tell the difference between the two because the color is so light!

The finished sheets. Top - pure white cotton, center - red cabbage dye and acid modifier, bottom - red cabbage dyed cotton paper

*Rereading the recipe for red cabbage dye in The Handbook of Natural Plant Dyes by Sasha Duerr, I realized that those luscious fabrics were first treated with a tannin and then they were mordanted with alum! I will attempt this recipe again next year. I will pretreat cotton fabric, dye it, wash and dry it then cut it up and beat it into a pulp.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cotton Rag Pulp Dyed with Red Cabbage Part 1

(Mobile Upload) This is cool! The dye bath color changed from magenta to blue because of the alkaline mordant.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ink from Natural Materials

My thoughts have been consumed with exploring all the creative possibilities plants provide!

I've decided to try making inks from plants. It takes about a pound of plant material to dye a pound of fiber. I either don't have or don't want to cut this much material right now. For instance, that would mean cutting off all the black eyed Susan flowers I have - not going to do that! But I can spare a handful of flowers or buy a small bunch of beets at the store to experiment. (I do plan to plant a full bed of beets next spring for eating, dyeing and papermaking.) AND making inks will extend the amount of time I can experiment with the various uses of plants. Preparing pulp and making paper will come to an end soon as the weather will be too cold to be playing with large quantities of water.

I'll bet left over coffee simmered down will work, as well as a variety of TAZO tea I have but don't care for - the color is luscious though!

Okay, going out to dye cotton pulp in the dye baths of garden sage and tansy I cooked up last week and will be saving a cup or two to turn into ink!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Finished Papers

L to R: pure cotton; carrot-top dyed; carrot-top dyed with copper modifier; goldenrod dyed


"It’s all a big game of construction, some with a brush, some with a shovel, some choose a pen."
- Jackson Pollock
Golden Artist Colors posted this on their Facebook page the other day and I thought it was appropriate to what I have been doing. Long before my vision (of what my final work will be) is completed, many steps must be carried out.First is the papermaking process; next the dyeing. I am constructing...

Carrot Tops and Goldenrod


August 24, 2011 - After spending a few days beating cut up cotton sheets in my Mark Lander Beater, I began the process of dyeing this pulp with plant materials easily accessible to me. The carrot tops I got from carrots I bought at the farmers' market and the goldenrod is growing wild in my backyard.

L to R: cotton pulp after mordanting; carrot tops dye bath; unrinsed cotton pulp
dyed with carrot tops, rinsed pulp with lots of the color removed.

L to R: goldenrod before & after simmering; dye bath
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...