A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Saturday, April 30, 2016


My college botany textbook
This is my last post here for the month of April. I had big plans! So did Life (but she forgot to tell me)! In any case, it has been such a pleasure to gather this information and to do some studio experiments that I plan to continue on this botanical topic for a while on my own blog.

Frankly, botany is not the popular subject it used to be. (I actually got a great job during semester break in graduate school because I was the only student at the fairly large university who had a reputation for knowing any botany. Kinda sad. Worked for me though.) One hundred years ago things were different, and many wonderful botany books were published that are great fun to work with in art. For the most part, copyright issues are not a problem, due the ages of the publications. (You need to know a few things about copyright law to be sure you are not infringing.) And the illustrations are abundant and lovely, as is the text.


One of my favorites is a botany textbook published in 1901, Elements of Botany. I have used illustrations from this book in several pieces of art. Because I have only one copy of this book, I scan the images and then print on fabric or paper as needed. That means I can use multiples in one piece of art, always a great design element.

Detail from fabric collage "Some Elements of Botany"

Fabric and paper collage

One of four pieces in fabric collage "Some Elements of Botany"
Some other great resources for me have been a set of three encyclopedias published in 1877 and an ancient dictionary that must weigh five pounds! (All from my local library after the annual book sale.) Because I have so much material to work with, I can use the original pages. However, they are fragile so I back them with a lightweight fabric using an acrylic medium. More often, I scan those pages to print on fabric.

And of course, I occasionally use my revered botany textbook from undergraduate school. Pretty old now too (1961), but I would not use illustrations directly from that one. Significant alterations of images can work, though, and it is a great reference.
 From many years of moving and the consequent home decorating, I have a nice stash of small fabric samples and – guess what – many have wonderful botanical images printed on them. They make great collage elements.


Last but not least, I saved my lab notebook from my Plant Morphology class. What a treasure!!! My instructor, dear Leo Simone, was a stickler for his requirement of very carefully drawing everything we saw under the microscope as well as the live plant material. As a result, I have a wonderful collection of original images that I can use as I wish. Below is a print I made using my drawing of a microscopic Selaginella shoot.
Oil emulsion print - Selaginella shoot
Page from my botany lab notebook - placentation
 I'm in the process of enlarging this and other drawings to use on fabric as direct prints, transfers, and tracings.

Many thanks for the kind and instructional comments from all of you this month. I hope you have found some new techniques to get your botanical dreams onto your fabric!


  1. i still have my Botany 150 text "In Gardens of Hawaii" by Marie c Neal,c1965 that i took with Dr Horace Clay in the 1980S! at a swapmeet i even found one of the printing plates for crown flower!! i so enjoyed your post and will read it again! am also a big fan of stitching with my featherweight on paper! i enjoyed your posts all month Thank you!

  2. I just wanted to say thank you for your posts, I love using material in different ways in my work and you have given me a kick start to return to it. :)

  3. I'm so glad you both enjoyed the posts! Isn't it fun?!

  4. okay, I'm gonna look for botanical books at the thrift shop. Great month!


  5. Really Nice article, I appreciate your research and time for writing this.
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