Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Eco Printing Experiment

 I decided to try some eco printing, now that is something I never thought I would say! I was inspired by a You Tube video I saw as well as one of my fellow art quilters who was also having a go.

I found an on-line beginner class by an English lady called Caroline Nixon, she was very thorough with her advice.

Eco printing

You have to have a mordant for the leaves to print onto the fabric. You can buy iron sulphate powder in shops but I found an old rusting saw that my husband still had in his garage and soaked it in water and vinegar for a few days.

Making iron water

I forgot to take a photo of the iron water a few days later, but it was quite rusty looking. I had to pour the water through paper towels a couple of times to get the rusty bits out and just have the iron water.

I rinsed some raw silk into the iron water, rung it out and then placed leaves on the top.

I tried all different leaves to see what worked.

I rolled up my bundle of leaves using an old rolling pin and plastic wrap as a barrier. It's important to roll it tightly.

My leaf bundle

Then I had to wrap up the bundle to keep it together while it was steaming. I used some crepe bandage that has a bit of stretch.

Leaf bundle wrapped

Here it is steaming for One and a half hours


This is the first raw silk that I tried, all the leaves printed.

You get a clearer print if you put the back of the leaf onto the fabric.

That was so much fun, I thought I would try again with another piece of silk, but this time the fabric was a bit too wet and the print was a bit blurry. I used rose and camellia leaves, the camellia leaves don't print very well.

Blurry print

I quickly tried again but this time I ironed the fabric so it was almost dry, I still managed to get a print from the rose leaves but the fabric had been too dry. The yellow on the right was me trying the camellia leaves again.

Rose leaves

I had run out of time and iron water by now and so that was the end of my experiment.

I actually enjoyed it much more than I expected. I learned that I loved the smell of the leaves steaming and you need the fabric to be damp but not too wet or too dry. I also learnt that deciduous leaves print the best. They have the most tannin when they are about to drop off the tree, so autumn leaves are perfect for eco printing.

I will definitely try again one day; I don't know if I will start to include eco printing in my quilts but you never know!

I do enjoy experimenting though, it is fun.

Bye for now,



Robbie said...

Love the delicate look of these! Nicely done, as usual!!!

Magpie's Mumblings said...

You do the most interesting experiments! I would never have thought of making my own iron water and, truthfully, didn't know there would be a need for it. Back in the day when it was a 'thing' to bury all sorts of things wrapped in cloth in the garden to see what would come out of it I tried it. Promptly forgot all about it and I expect it's still there. Unless the new owners were digging around and came across it. If they did I imagine they puzzled over it for awhile!

Linda Steele said...

Thanks Robbie, I will definitely try this again, will probably wait until after winter though. The leaves are mostly gone now.

Linda Steele said...

That's such a funny story, Magpie Mumblings. I wonder what people would think when they came across your experiments.