So pleased and fascinated by the results of my first eco-printing on paper experiment, I couldn't wait to give it another go, my mind churning with what ifs. Using a lighter weight and smoother paper than before (98lb mixed media paper vs 140lb watercolor paper), I got perhaps even better results. Talk about near instant gratification - I am in love with these papers. Still getting bleed-through which may just be part and parcel of this technique, but it is not always a bad thing, creating depth and ghost-like images on some sides. And so I've taken pictures and posted above both sides of the papers in the order in which they were stacked.
I struggled to get accurate color shots of these, tried tweaking them a bit, but the papers seemed to change color depending on what kind of light they are in. Wish you could see them in person. But in the meantime, as I was doing the reveal, I couldn't resist taking these before and after shots of this particular page onto which I scattered the small dark red leaves from a what I think is a barberry bush (very thorny). One of the "what ifs" that crossed my mind concerned the leaves used in my first session, saved and now crispy dry. Would there be any color left in them to transfer, especially in their dry state? What if I crumbled a leaf over the wet paper along with my fresh leaves? I tried it here.
And yes, there's still color transferring. I'm not sure where all that yellow came from but this is one of my favorite pages.
Another "what if" concerned adding some fabric into the mix. Would the weak alum solution that works so well on the paper be enough to transfer and hold images to fabric? I haven't washed these yet to see if what little did transfer will stay put, but I did get some image and color on the very pale hand-dyed fabric. To get sharp imprints I think I would need to have more pressure than I can get on the bundle with just cardboard on either side held by binder clips along the sides and a bit of weight on top while it steams. I also wondered if sandwiching fabric between papers might block some of the bleed-through from a page underneath. Difficult to tell but I don't think it made a lot of difference.
Here is an example of the mirror effect one gets from two papers one on top of the other.
Here are close-ups of a few of my fabrics from this batch. The one on the left is a good example of how those dried leaves crushed and sprinkled over the paper creates a lovely effect that reminds me a bit of sprinkling salt over paint. I also used some wide blades of grass on that one (and also on the first paper in the top row in the second picture at the top of this post) and since those blades were very green, it was a bit of a surprise that the transfer of color wasn't also green. I was able to find a small willow tree with yellow leaves still clinging to branches and collected quite a few. One would expect them to transfer yellow color then, but as you can see from the paper on the right, instead it was a lovely brown - they really transferred well.
Some of the pages showed I am getting better at arranging my leaves.
And this one I love because of the way those dark brown images are not solid but full of tiny spots. Click on any photo to get a closer look.
The question still remains, what will I do with these eco-printed papers and where else might I take this experiment? Why exactly am I playing with this? Well, if nothing else, I am a curious person and processes fascinate me. But part of my "year off" from art quilting has been to make time to try things I've been wanting to try for a very long time but have not because I've felt I didn't have time while pursuing art quilting and exhibiting. Or, if I did not have a specific thought of how to use the results of my experimentation efforts, I had a hard time convincing myself I should set other things aside to pursue them. Yeah, a long-time problem of mine which I've managed to shake off quite a bit this year. Finally, at a point in my creative journey where not everything has to result in something show or gift worthy.
And that is why this excerpt from a recent Sketchbook Skool blog post rang true, something I've believed and practiced for a long time but often need reminding of:
Creativity isn’t about making something out of nothing.
It’s about combining existing ideas into fresh combinations. Taking inspiration from one source, borrowing from another creator, adding a new context, changing the mood, and flipping everything on its head. We need lots of different ingredients to make a tasty soup.
As developing artists, our job is to gather firewood from many sources until inspiration sparks a flame. We need to stay curious, open minded, and explore.
So all the sketching, the playing with paint, the eco-printing, the waterfall chasing, it's my gathering of firewood, the hoping for a spark, staying alert for fresh combinations.
Your eco printing is beautiful! I especially like the sprinkles of dried leaves! The excerpt about the meaning of 'creativity' rings true! I'm sharing it along with your blog link with our fiber arts group for those of us who need a little extra inspiration! Jan in WY
Thanks Jan - share away!
Wonderfully successful……addictive isn’t it? Oh…and yes, bleed through is common on paper and fabric.
Thanks Mary! And yes, just like my foray into dyeing fabric and perhaps a dozen other things I've tried, it IS addictive! Thanks for the confirmation about the bleed through.
This is a most interesting post. I have only once a long time in the past tried eco-dyeing and have never tried eco-printing, though I realise they are very closely related. I initially found it fascinating and was delighted with the colours and effects I produced. I then left the fabric and thread samples on one side for a while and when I went back I found that the colour had all but disappeared as I’d failed to use a mordant!
Rather feebly I haven’t revisited the process since. Thanks for reminding me of how pleasing the effects can be. I believe one of the groups I stitch with has an eco-dyeing session planned for next year. I will pay more attention next time!
That is an interesting bit of information, Margaret. Honestly, my directions use so little alum in the soak bath that I am wondering just how effective it will be over the long term, have not taken the time to look at how others are approaching this. I also wonder about the long term effects of the alum on the paper itself since no rinsing of the papers after steaming is mentioned and perhaps would be moot given how it would have soaked into the fibers. I'm remembering from my days of trying to master marbling on fabric that it was warned that alum if left in the fabric would eventually cause it to rot. I know many are not at all concerned about the longevity of their creative endeavors but I always have been. Hate to put that much time and effort (and sometimes money) into something with excellent results only to find it deteriorating because I haven't taken the proper steps. Well, not much invested here so it is a good training and testing ground. I do hope you will try it again, and doing so with your group would be perfect.
Wow! You got some stunning results! Hurray for your experimentation. I suspect flower pounding would give you some excellent results on fabric, too.
Pounding actually did cross my mind but I'm not sure I'm up to it! I have a friend who has done it and she indicated it got tiring pretty quick and that it was best done when you had some steam to blow off!
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