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.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Kinds of images

Many things influence the nature of images you'll get, After you've prepared and mordanted your fabric, plant selection is the next decision you'll make. Which plant materials, and how you use them, will have a great deal of impact on your prints.

When I eco-print,  I aim for impressionistic, somewhat abstract images -  for suggestions of leaf shapes, rather clear crisp leaf prints. So I tend to lay out two, three, or more types of leafs on a piece of fabric, and I often tear or chop and layer the materials. The pieces below were done using this method. Looking at them will give you  a general idea of image and colour these types of materials can produce, but it'll be difficult to pick out distinct examples of what a specific material looks like.   I delight in letting the materials work with each other and the surprises that come when I open my bundles.

I want to tell you about some of my favourite plants and how I use them. My most reliable stand-bys are: rose bush leaf, apple tree leaf, sugar maple and oak tree leaf, and black walnuts (in the bath) . Bonus, these are not hard to come by! I often use these as a foundation and add other plant mateials.

Japanese maple, smoke bush, and coral bell leafs are favourites, probably because they tend to imprint well and often give smoky purple greys. The piece below shows a few smoke bush leafs fairly clearly, but also draws colour from other leafs, darkened and intensified by a healthy dose of walnut and iron in the cooking. The fabric is fine wool.

I also love the colours and prints that can come from raspberry and blackberry leafs, and from strawberry leafs and runners. The piece below shows the beautiful lines that can print from strawberry runners. You can also see leaf shapes - coral bell and apple. Note that the fabric (linen) is loosely woven and quite textured, yet it still printed well.

I particularly like a neutral palette , marked by plant materials. The piece below shows the dotted lines of strawberry runners - aided by chopped sugar maple leafs, which just showed up as sprinklings and pale, shadowy images. The fabric is a linen serviette.

Sometimes leafs will imprint with sprinkles of colour... in this cars the purple is probably from coral bell leaf

 Sometimes there are tracings of leaf shapes - the one below is from town sugar maple leaf

Catalpa pods,below, make a very distinctive print, and I often use them to make distinct, mysterious marks..

In all of the pieces I've shown you here, the materials worked together in the bundles to influence the intensity and colour of the print. And colours can also be affected by the other bundles, and what's in the bath if the bundles are immersed for boiling rather than held above the bath for steaming.

For those of you who prefer distinct, identifiable images of specific leafs, here are a few suggestions that will help you to get what you want.
- place your piece of fabric on a piece of parchment paper, which you will roll up with the fabric. The paper will prevent transfer of colour or image from one layer of fabric to another.
- lay out each leaf, stem, or flower so that it can come in full contact with the fabric - i.e. so that there isn't a stem of other leave overlapping.
- steam the bundles rather than immersing them for boiling
- reduce contact between bundles in the steam chamber either by keeping a bit of space between them, or by wrapping each bundle in parchment paper.


  1. just wanted to thank you for this. I love ecoprints and seem to be one of the few people doing it here. So I am having to learn it all by myself.

    Last night in the post I received my book natural processes in textile art. It was hard to find, but is an amazing book.

    thanks so very much.

    glen parks, baton rouge, la

  2. really enjoying the ECO printing articles

  3. Love the eco-printing articles. After experimenting with dowels, I started simply bundling eco-printed fabric around itself for more impressionistic results. Also, I often rust-print the fabric before eco-printing it for more subtle results (and it's easier not to have to bundle a large piece of rusty metal in with the fabric: http://studiopeta.com/spring-eco-dyeing/


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