Archive for December, 2017

Street Art #194

Last street art post for this year, and it’s the first of a two-parter.  My friend Mark picked up a load more street art in Croydon, so here’s the first batch for you to enjoy.  Check back next week for part two!

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First piece found by South Kilburn Studios (Canterbury Road, NW6), and the second I think was from the canal towpath near the Ha’penny Steps/Meanwhile Gardens.

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In loving memory

William Couch 13th September 1944 – 22nd December 2010.

The Lord of the Rings by William Couch. Pencil and charcoal on paper.

PIPPIN: I didn’t think it would end this way.

GANDALF: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.

PIPPIN: What? Gandalf? See what?

GANDALF: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.

PIPPIN: Well, that isn’t so bad.

GANDALF: No. No, it isn’t.”

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Gosh, where do I start?  This post is long overdue so I’m really having to scrabble around in my memory, bear with me if I ramble a little!

Earlier this year some of India Flint‘s beautiful work caught my eye on Pinterest (I have no idea what I’d originally been browsing for, I’d fallen down the Pinterest rabbithole).  I was intrigued so I did some more browsing and then thought “I must try that.”

Which is all well and good, but you’re quite possibly wondering “what is eco-printing?”

Eco-printing is the process of producing an image on fabric* using plant matter** , usually with the aid of a mordant***.  The plants are placed between layer of cloth and then bundled and/or rolled tightly to apply pressure.  The bundle is then processed, usually through steaming, so that the colour and form of the subject is transferred to the fabric.

*or paper

**although apparently beetles and larvae may also be used

***a mordant is a substance, usually a chemical salt but things like vinegar or soy milk may also be used

So I did, but not immediately.  I thought about it a lot and decided I wanted to discover it slowly, and experiment as I went, to see if I could a) get pretty results, and b) replicate them as required.

Ok.  Let’s do this.  I then carried on researching and making notes of techniques and tips, as well as a list of potential subjects.  Most of my research was online but I also bought India Flint’s book, Eco Colour, and it was hugely helpful.  Finally in late July I was ready to give it a go.


Never underestimate the importance of taking notes

As I hoped I’d be able to replicate any successful results I decided to keep detailed notes, and to minimise the number of variable as far as I could.  This meant keeping things (like fabric type, mordant type, and length of time the bundles were steamed) to a constant.  I also took photograph.  Copious photographs.  Photos of the plants laid out on the fabric before bundling and steaming, photos of the wet plants on the steamed fabric after it had been unrolled, photos of the wet fabric once the plants had been peeled off, photos of the fabric when it had dried, and then yet more photos once the fabric had been rinsed and pressed.


Probably about 1% of the photos I’ve taken

That’s a lot of photos, but I don’t trust my memory and I wanted to make sure I didn’t mix up my printed pieces when it came to labelling them.  Oh yes, labelling.  A very important part of the process!  I ended up sewing paper labels to each sheet of fabric as that seemed the most foolproof way to keep them organised.


I’ve also ended up keeping my fabrics rolled in their batches.  No particular reason other than it works out easier that way.

That’s the first part of my adventures in eco-printing.  I have procrastinated the past few months away so the next part will be published some time in January.

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A nice piece on the side of Taylor Taylor (for previous art on the same site click here).  First piece is by Endless Artist, and the police line up is by Catman.  I had no idea who the last guy was so had to find out, and if you’re clueless like me it’s Keith Haring.

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The cheerful sunflower by Gary Alford at Queens Park station has now been replaced by an interesting piece, artist unknown.  My photo isn’t reversed, the artwork has been done as a mirror image, which is unusual!

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This week’s edition of “I really need to practice drawing” comes in the form of sketching my outfits.  Which I suck at, but I might try and do this more often as it is good practice and also quite interesting (for me) to see what I actually wear.  Like most people I have a lot of clothes and suspect that I barely wear half of them, so perhaps if I keep this daily outfit thing up I’ll be able to weed out the things that I really don’t need to keep!

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I really need to check on this one more often.  I first spotted the street boards back in May, and then noticed in August that the poem had changed on the Kilburn Lane one.  At the time of writing this it’s early September (although this post won’t go live until December, yikes!) and I’m about to go away on holiday so I’ll check it again when I get back in the hopes of another update!

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