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Archive for the ‘Eco-printing’ Category

Ok, this isn’t really a proper part 2 (which I said I would write in January but never did get around to).  Part 1 is here if you missed it.  What this is, is a quick heads up that the first batch of eco-printed books are now available in my Etsy shop.  I added nine last night and one has been snapped up already so go and take a peek as each one is unique.

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eco1_01

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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