Thursday, June 6, 2013

Rhododendron Flowers Eco-Print

I unwrapped the bundles this morning to see the results of the steam printing. Here is how they turned out. When they are dry, I will iron them and lay them side by side for comparison of the different mordants.

The most spectacular eco-print came from magenta rhododendron flowers that had recently fallen from the shrub. This was wrapped in un-mordanted cotton, mulberry paper and silk and steamed in a stainless steel pot.

Isn't that incredible?? the pieces are air drying now. I need to rinse and gently wash them to see if the color is fast. If it is, I've got to dye a t-shirt with these flowers before they dry up!!


  1. How did the colour testing go? I stumbled across your blog while doing some research to see if anyone had been eco printing with rhodo flowers. I would like to give it a try when they are next in flower as part of an art project I am doing... utilising plants/natural colours/pigments from the area I am focussing my research. The cloths look gorgeous. Thanks for posting

    1. Hi Carolyn, The color did not wash out. I hand rinsed and washed with mild dish detergent and air dried. The fabric has been sitting in a closet since then so I don't know about the color fastness over time. I was not able to get to the flowers before they turned brown to do the t-shirt. I will try it this year. The t-shirt is mordanted so I think it should work well. Please do share your results with me.

    2. Hi Susan, Thanks for your reply, I only just found it while tidying up my outlook. That is exciting that the colour didnt wash straight out. Opens up a lot of possibilities for my research ideas/design etc. The area I am doing that particular research is about a 4 hour drive from where I live. I have a few trips planned throughout the year but will have to now make a special trip when the rhodos are out. I am going for a festival there in October and hopefully there will be a few blooms around then. Do you have any tips on how to transport to maximise their freshness... i know the petals have a tendency to brown quickly. I will have to be well prepared to start work when I return. I know that freezing flower petals is a great way to maximise the colour they give, but not so sure how that would work with getting good direct impressions from the petal. Sounds like some fun experimenting to look forward to.

    3. Carolyn, I would suggest bringing along the fabric you plan to use. When on site, wet it, place the flowers on the fabric, wrap it up, secure with rubber bands or string and place in a plastic bag. If you will be there for more than a day, place it in a refrigerator so that it doesn't get moldy. Then steam it when you get home.

  2. Thankyou so much Susan, that is a fantastic idea. I havent had a lot of success with steaming my bundles (paper or fabric) and tend to boil them, usually along with eucalypt cordata or native cherry (an orange and a green producing plant) or in a cast iron pot with just water. Although I have to admit my experiments with steaming have been mainly with paper that has been fairly tightly sandwiched against either thick perspex or wrapped tightly around a metal can. I have also found that by boiling with a background colour i get lovely resist marks happening, especially when using cellulose fibres that dont take on the plant colour as well. Experimenting so much fun, but time consuming.


Your comments are always appreciated. Thank you.

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