Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Eco Prints/Monoprinting

I have fallen in love with natural dyeing...perhaps the printing to be exact.
I have always picked up leaves, pressed them between pages of a book or tacked them onto my inspiration board. I often use them in my artwork (check this out).
I can almost remember where each one came from, what I was doing the day I picked it up and who I was with.
I love trees, rocks and moss...all of this is evidenced by the amount of these natural items in my studio (and car, and patio, and my husband's vehicle, and in the kayak...).
Now I have another way to use it in my artwork!

I tried several different ways to print the leaves of a local eucalyptus tree. They grow well in my area and are able to live quite well through the winter.
Even though I don't have one in my yard, there is a huge tree not to far from my house...
a steady supply of leaves to play with!

This is a "ghost" print on a piece of previously dyed cotton fabric.
Notice the green fern monoprint in the upper right hand corner.

Here is a close up of the fern monoprint (an unexpected  extra!).
Look at the awesome color! (silk)

True. Love.
(on silk)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Eco Prints

I've been experimenting with natural dyeing and eco printing.
What a ton of work but man-oh-man, when it begins to work the way you envisioned it, it is beautiful.
It is addictive.
It is all consuming.

Or maybe I am a bit OCD and once I find something I really like, I jump in with both feet.
Both hands.
Silk fabric.
Cotton fabric.
Watercolor paper.
Handmade paper.
Bristol Vellum paper.

(you get the picture??)

Here are a few pieces that I ooh'ed and ahhh'ed over when they came out of my caldron.

300 lb hot press watercolor paper
300 lb hot press watercolor paper

110 lb Exact Index paper with beautiful muted colors
and embossed areas from the thicker leaves.

110 lb Exact Index paper with the same muted colors
and embossed areas.

 The paper really accepts the color from the monoprint much better than fabric.
Well -except eucalyptus...silk fabric not only accepts the color from the eucalyptus, it revels in the marriage of the two.
The first few times that I tried dyeing or printing with eucalyptus were disappointing.
Only pale yellows, maybe a hint of green.
The following one is on linen. While I do like the pale colors, I was really looking for the bold orange-ish color that I had seen other natural dyers obtain.

Then I began to break away from what I was reading and started doing things the way that I usually do...
the mad scientist way.
I combined a bit of information from this book, or this book, a little from a variety of blogs that I found, threw in a dash of (my) logic and the colors began changing a little bit.

Look! Look! I see a little bit of color change going on!
I'll end here but will do a post later this week showing the rest of my "experiments".

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Autumn News

Wow, what a month or two!
I've created seven new pieces of art (five for a show, two for me), traveled to three different states to either open art shows, teach or visit family (not to mention eating a bunch of pumpkin foods).
Now I am home again, ready to rest a day or two (while I plan the next trip).

I made my first trip to upstate NY this month.
Love, love, love it up there!
The lakes, the trails, the trees and the animals-I love it all.
The people are so friendly, especially the folks that my friends and I stayed with (thank you Claire and Richard!).
I suppose my opinion might change during the snow season, hmmm?
I am tired after days of travel but it is a pleasant "job well done" type of tired.

While I have been away from home, I had projects "cooking" for me.
A fairly new obsession, I mean a technique that is new to me, is eco dyeing.
Dyeing with natural items- plant material or woody tree materials.
I love unrolling my little bundles and seeing what serendipitous surprises await me!
Here is the one that I unrolled this morning after a week or two of cooking.
It's silk fabric with goldenrod rolled into it, dipped into old tea leaves (tied up with cotton string).

I love the subtle variations in the color.
I can see yellow areas from the goldenrod, the beautiful tans of the tea leaves as well as a pale salmon-ish color from somewhere.
I also love the lines from the shibori type resist of the pearl cotton thread.
Like the wandering lines of lives that intersect along the way, much like "The Family Circle" comic depicted.
Much the way that I am in art making - so easily distracted by this or that - yet always returning to what moves me or enables me to impart the message that I am charged with.
I have many small bundles just waiting their turn at the miraculous unveiling, not to mention a few jars full of colored liquid and chopped vegetation.

But for now, I am content to unpack slowly, move about my comfy home with a thankful heart.
I'm just happy to be among my own treasures for a week or two before embarking on yet another adventure.
I hope that your heart is happy - filled to the brim with thankful thoughts as well as love for your fellow man (and woman!).

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Over at the "Sketchbook Challenge" Judy Coates Perez is the theme picker...
True to form, Judy gave us an interesting and multi-layered one, "Cabinet of Curiosities".

Through the magic of the internet (and my photo saving program), I'll share one of my posts on that theme.

I love Judy's theme this month!

When my family went to the museums in Washington a few years ago, the Museum of Natural History was my favorite place. I loved all of the skeletons and odd little things that building houses and really didn't realize until that day just how much I love skeletons.
Since most "Cabinets of Curiosities  have at least one skeleton in them, I'll share one of my sketches that I did this summer from a magazine ad.
My husband and I were doing some volunteer work and I found myself stuck in an (almost) empty college apartment with nothing to do.
Thank goodness I had a sketchbook, pen & pencil and a promotional magazine from Western North Carolina (I live very close to the SC/NC line). (edit "The Laurel of Asheville" July 2012)
Just goes to show you that you need to carry a sketchbook with you every where you go!
I had already drawn everything in the room (my chair, the desk, my camera and my sewing machine) so it was time to find something else to draw to pass the time.
So I opened the magazine.
Hmmm...several possibilities as I flipped through it rather quickly.
But then I saw it - a beautiful tiny little ad about fossils (Cornerstone Minerals) that had a photo of a dinosaur skull in it.
Bingo! I grabbed my pencil, pen, travel watercolors and went to work.

I usually draw straight to paper with a pen but this time I sketched a bit in pencil then outlined that in pen.
I don't have any step by step photos so I'll just share the  final sketchbook page (regular readers of my blog have seen this already).

This would probably fit right in if I had a "Cabinet of Curiosities" in my home.

Oh wait - I DO have a tiny version of this already (my morbid curiosity with skeletons)!

A friend of mine sent me an owl pellet (don't ask).
I opened it up and found  a bunch of teeny tiny bones.
I put all of them in a small corked bottle (it's about one inch tall).
I was waiting to use it on a piece of artwork but maybe I'll have to find me a cabinet to put it in...