Tag Archives: bundles

Hardy Eucalyptus for printing in cooler climates

 Thanks to the discovery of the Eucalyptus eco-print by India Flint, many textile enthusiasts around the world have fallen in love with the wonderful prints achieved from the leaves of these trees. It seems however, that many believe we can’t grow the varieties useful for contact printing and dyeing in colder climates. It is also a widely held view that those that will cope with our winters will become a menace, quickly growing to enormous heights while stripping nutrients from the soil. 

My groups of dyers really enjoy contact printing and dyeing with native plants and trees. However, there is something magical about the colour and fastness of eucalyptus on wool that makes it so special and so many buy leaves from florists to achieve the wonderful burnt orange prints and long to have a free and ready supply.

Claire, one of the group,  brought an article about Kangaroot Trees  for us to look at (October 2015’s, The Garden). We got quite excited at the possibility of growing a eucalyptus or two as dye plants. However, we first needed to find out which would give us good contact prints as well as cope with various growing conditions, survive our winters and not outgrow our gardens. After reading the article and looking at the website, we realised, this Worcestershire nursery, stocks more than 50 species of hardy Eucalyptus. The owner, Hilary Collins, very kindly agreed to send us samples of six varieties. We chose the following based on their varied leaf shapes,  small to medium growing size (can be container grown) and hardiness.

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At our next meeting we bundled samples of each between pieces of silk and wool, sprayed with a little vinegar and water and then steamed the bundles for an hour.  Five of the six were juvenile leaves except the leaves of the E. pulverulenta, Baby blue which were adult.

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The results of all the samples were excellent. All varieties produced good colour, though the unusual small leaved species E. crenulata  produced greenish leaf prints with red stems, a lovely delicate combination. According to the catalogue this variety is hardy to -10, is tolerant of poor drainage and also has beautiful perfumed flowers.

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E. parvula or Small leaved Gum has nicely shaped pointed leaves, good colour, can be coppiced, is hardy to -20 and can cope with alkaline soils. This was a real favourite and one on my short list. This variety seems to be the most robust and adaptable of all the varieties we sampled.

E cinerea

E. cinerea or commonly know as Silver dollar has rounded leaves, a real favourite with florists, gives good colour and is hardy to -8 to -13. My sister keeps me supplied with foliage from her tree in London. It is a good variety though not as hardy as some.

E nicholii

E. nicholii or Narrow leaved Black Peppermint has lovely feathery foliage and is hardy to -15. It produced good prints contrasting well with the more rounded varieties. I think this varietyis probably my favourite.

E perirana

E. perriniana or Spinning Gum is hardy to -15, gave good colour and interesting prints. The only restriction would be the leaves form around the stem and so would be more difficult to use individually.

We were really happy with our results and are thinking about varieties which would be most suitable for our different gardens. I already have at least two on my wish list, though, with a move on the horizon I may have to wait a little longer!

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New Year and New Ventures

The holidays and family gatherings have come to an end leaving me, like many others, feeling tired, overindulged and yearning for Spring. The weather has been windy and wet and days are still far to short. New work is on my mind, though distractions and lack of a studio have hampered progress so far

Last summer a couple of students on one of my workshops told me about a monthly course  they had been going to in Herefordshire. Run by quilter, Ineke Berlin participants work on projects using her facilities and drawing on her expertise.  It seemed like an interesting idea which I then put to others. I had an amazing response and so the initial one day turned into two.We will gather, initially around my kitchen table and then will meet in my tented studio in the garden to learn new techniques, share ideas, and work on our projects.

During the first days last weekend we walked and gathered thoughts and leaves, took photographs. Back around the table we sat and wrote in our journals then stitched, marked paper and bundled leaves which we then steamed and simmered in our witches brew (a cauldron of simmered onion skins, left over tea and leaves) while we exchanged our stories, useful tips and drank tea. Though the trees are bare and shoots of Spring are only just appearing we managed to make some interesting paperwork.

 

It has been a great way to kick start the year.  Next month we will be looking at rust printing and fabric bundling.

Prints from the Fridge

Last Sunday was one of those wonderful, sunny Spring days, warm enough to eat outside and giving a taste of the Summer, I hope is on it’s way.

The weekend was made all the nicer as we had my three borrowed children (I dislike the whole step thing) gathered together for a birthday. The girls were in a creative mood and having found some old fruit and vegetables, lurking in dark corner’s of the fridge, I gathered some pieces of cotton, silk and paper to work with. These were then painted, sprayed, folded and rolled around various vegetation and layered in a steamer.  Later the bundles were unfolded to reveal lovely colours and patterns, all from fridge waste, including blueberries, red cabbage leaves and onion skins.

Winds, Rain and Eco-bundling

The weather has been so bad for so long with relentless wind, rain and flooding. I feel so fortunate, unlike many others, to live on a hill with no fear of flooding. The bad weather means it’s a good time to be inside by the wood-burning stove bundling pieces of fabric.

I have wanted  to experiment and see what is possible in the depths of winter with very little in the way of fresh leaves to work with. Bundling what I can find in silk and cotton, around sticks, stones and metal scraps and then simmering them in baths of windfalls.

I bundled a piece of the fine hemp silk from the hemp shop with the habutai samples.  It has the body of hemp with some of the dye qualities of silk. Steamed up windows and the lovely aroma of leaves fill the air and later, though little time has been given to developing the prints lovely colours and marks emerge.

My brain is whirring thinking of what wonderful things I could do with it. I have also bought some organic hemp and cotton jersey fabrics to play with which are calling for an indigo bath.

Sunshine and Origami

A lovely Autumn day and I have been taking photographs. Here is my prototype of the Chinese folded thread book.

This could be the final outcome of the 3 day Bundling and Books workshop. It was a lovely thing to make even in newspaper and everyone could make their own very personal book using their lovely bundled papers and stitch or glue it all together.

It will have lots of compartments to put notes and the threads and string which get dyed along the way. We will also aim to make a  fabric cover which will also be stitched and dyed during the workshop. Now I just have to find the right materials and make sure this is all possible in 3 days.

Autumn leaves and Berries

The rapidly shortening days create a sense of creative urgency. The hedgerows are heavy with berries, leaves are changing and falling onto the damp ground. The remains of squirrel collecting lie under the trees asking to be made into dyes and inks for future projects. Pots of foraged hulls and berries are simmering on the wood burning stove. Bundles of ferns, rose geranium and cotinus leaves laid in cloth are bound around fallen pine cones from the forest floor. Pieces of bundled silk wait for the dyepot ready to be transformed by botanical alchemy.