I stopped doing ecoprints a few years back. Honestly, it had started to bore me, as i *did* get “predictable” results, knowing what local plants did print, and the effects i could get. Then i was quite frankly, COWED by all the splendid, wonderful experimenting and marvellous, amazing results that others were getting! I couldn’t figure out how people were doing what they were doing, and at the time, it seemed to me that only people with a lot of discretionary cash could afford the goods, dye materials, travelling to classes and workshops, and free time, perhaps a sour grape reflection, but “valid” at the time, for me…
Methods and materials were being closely guarded–and i DO understand the point that teachers make a living from teaching these with their years of experience and skill level, and should be recompensed, so don’t think i’m kvetching because the process was only being taught in paid for classes. (I would KILL, i WOULD kill, to take a class with premier ecoprint teacher Irit Dulman.) I too have been in that position, as a student, and as a teacher. I never asked anyone who had done the classes to break the chain by giving me for free what the teacher had been paid for, so tried to puzzle it out.
I tried a few things that i thought were the process, but didn’t have a lot of success. It wasn’t that i was stupid, or unwilling to experiment: things just didn’t WORK. But i was “sloppy” in a sense. Now that i’ve learned properly how to prepare fabrics and threads and then dye with natural materials, that knowledge, based on historically accurate, well researched and proven methods, can be applied to ecoprints. (I’m still not a perfect dyer/mad textile scientist, but i’m improving every day 🙂 ) If however, i see ONE more post about vinegar or soymilk as “MORDANT”, i will puke a twice iron dipped catalpa leaf, with a nice frothy TO chaser…………….
Recently i joined a group that is big on sharing method, without spilling teacher secrets, or fighting about who “owns” the process, something that was nastily prevalent in the beginning. (I’ve never seen such an insidiously/assiduously “policed”–sometimes quite maliciously– practice before, as ecoprinting, contact printing, leaf printing, whatever term makes your boat float without “offending” anyone…) The people in this group share generously, indeed that is the POINT of the group, to SHARE the knowledge, the experimenting, processes, thoughts, ethics etc. Oh sure, there are still divisors between the purists, and the “anything that works” camps, but it’s reasonably civil, as the admins do a fantastic job. (It also helps that you can turn off commenting as an admin, or on your own posts 🙂 ) (I tend to do that when people go waaay off topic, or give me the same answer over and over, or just didn’t read the actual post and are tossing in two cents that makes no sense…)
I have a few ideas i explored before and want to return to them with the ecoprinting. They were successes at the time, and nope, i didn’t share the process at the time, and won’t now either 🙂 because as a talented friend once said when i asked something specific about her work : “Every dyer has her secrets”. THAT is valid too.
I have bags of premordanted fabrics ready, from the basic tannin/alum, to rhubarb leaf, titanium oxalate, iron, soda ash, alum alone, combinations thereof of whatever, all suited to the type of fibre (cellulose vs protein) and on the stove is a batch of pomegranate readying for use. I’m still doing the Summer of Madder (Study) and its adjunct project, but the ecoprinting will be incorporated into that as well.
And since DogFaced Girl and i have got so lazy and so fat over the last year, it’s a perfect time for walks to gather materials, relish the summer, and enjoy the short Calgary summer as best we can. Exercise, fresh air, science and joy at their finest!
And here’s a funny little one, tossed into the current almost exhausted madder pot: