Every year we visit Derbyshire to meet up with friends and have a few days out. The weather was great this year so we did a lot of walking. One of our favourite places to visit is Chatsworth House. As we have been in the house a few times we decided to explore the grounds. They are hosting the Burning Man Festival which happens in other parts of the world but this year it has come to Chatsworth. In October one structure will be burnt however they were still building it when we visited.
The sculptures were amazing, some, like the bear and cub were very tactile, some were asking you to get involved and try them out. My favourite was the mermaid which was constructed from recycled metal and glass.
I haven’t had much time to eco print just now but I have a few samples to show you, these are on Tex craft paper, which can be sewn. A lighter coloured paper would have been better. Also one side of the paper seemed to print better than the other side.
The next example shows blackberry leaves, just look at the vein detail in this print.
The final print was made with rose leaves and procion dye blanket, I love the colours in this print and the textures in the background. Rose leaves always give great prints.
You can learn more about eco printing in my past posts, type “Ecoprinting throughout the year” into the search box.
Following on from my cyanotype printing post I also tried cyanotype printing over eco prints. The results were interesting, I found the ecoprint changed colour, becoming more of a sepia tint, the yellows and greens were lost. I tried leaving areas without the cyanoprint chemicals on the paper, these remained golden coloured but there is a harsh line on the edge of the cyanoprint ‘border’ that I don’t like, you will see an example of this in my photos. I will have to work on this further as I might be able to soften the edge. I do like the sepia print with the blue cyanoprint, they are less fussy and more photographic looking. Also I like the leaf ‘window’ effect.
Here’s some examples of my cyanotype / eco prints on paper.
While the sun was out I finally got round to doing more cyanotypes. I missed out last time it was sunny as I couldn’t find the cyanotype chemicals which I had put away somewhere in the studio.
When the next sunny spell happened I was determined to do some sun printing so I had a good rummage and found the chemicals eventually.
There’s lots of information on how to make a cyanotype prints on the internet but basically you mix two chemicals together, paint it on your substrate , lay plants (or whatever) on top with a piece of glass on top to ensure good contact, then leave it in the sun to develop the print.
I started with a couple of prints on paper.
Then I added some turmeric and washing up liquid bubbles to see how this affected my prints.
Next I decided to print on fabric, this one is on silk which was mordanted first with alum.
My favourite prints are on recycled cotton sheets and pillow cases. I hope to use some of these for textile art in the winter when I can sit in front of the log burner and stitch.
I also I tried combining eco printing with cyanotype technique, the results were interesting but I will show you those in another post.
Three years ago we booked a holiday to Sorrento, finally after moving it three times we got to go.
We explored Capri and Positano as well as the charming narrow streets (called the Drains) in Sorrento, as we did on our last visit ( read about it here), but instead of going to Pompeii this time we went to Herculaneum, which is smaller and is more preserved.
Only a third of Herculaneum has been excavated, the rest lies under the new town.
This was the coastline when the volcano erupted in 79AD tragically killing the people waiting under these arches for boats to take them to safety.
The city was buried under 16 meters of ash which protected organic materials like wood. Here’s some wooden doors and also a bed that were preserved. Even some of the wooden beams in the rooves of the buildings survived.
There are some rather beautiful paintings on the walls
This would have been a shop serving food, it also served as a brothel.
There is a museum housing the finer artefacts found on site, glass vessels, mosaics, statues and jewellery that looks like it was made yesterday.
Herculaneum is smaller and has less visitors than Pompeii so it’s much easier to get around especially in the heat. Some people say it’s better than Pompeii, it certainly has more well preserved artefacts in my opinion, but I would say they are both different. Pompeii has a scale and some huge structures that you don’t see at Herculaneum. Both are well worth a visit, but I wouldn’t go to Pompeii in the summer heat, it was too hot in October for me.
Boil 1. – Images are dark due to the pan being very rusty.
Boil 2. – Images are lighter as the only iron present was the liquid used to dip the flowers and foliage.
Conclusion – Prints using the rusty roasting tin are much darker than the ones in the new roasting tin. Also I think the tiles that I use are so impregnated with iron they are making the prints darker. I need to use new tiles for very light prints. I like the stronger tonal values, the cotinus leaves came out out very dark and the eucalyptus printed well, you can even see the stoma on the leaf prints.
There are several reasons why you would use blankets and barriers when ecoprinting.
A blanket provides good contact between paper and plant material.
When using thick plant material that could damage the paper a felt or wool blanket acts like a cushion levelling things up and allowing good contact with the paper.
A blanket can be dipped in a solution such as iron water to change/ enhance the print. There are other solutions that you can use too but I want to keep things simple as I hope to encourage beginners to try ecoprinting.
A blanket can be used as a carrier for dye to impart colour to the ecoprint. This can be a natural plant based dye or it can be a manmade dye, I use Procion dyes or natural dyes.
Fabric, paper or plastic can be used as a barrier to prevent the colour from one plant bleeding through onto the other prints.
Textured material like lace , hessian or log bags can give texture or pattern to the print.
How to ecoprint with dye blankets or plastic barriers
The method for ecoprinting with dye blankets or barrier is basically the same as my usual ecoprinting method only the blanket/ barrier is layered in between the papers when making the bundle.
I like to use acrylic or wool felt, or old wool blanket, old cotton sheets or even kitchen paper. These are not treated with any mordant as you want the dye to transfer to the paper. I find that often the foliage does leave a print on the blanket, especially on old cotton sheets, I like the added bonus of being able to use these in other projects. The poor ones get used again as blankets.
I soak the blankets in dye solution while I pick my plants, it’s then wrung out and ready to use.
A lot of ecoprinters don’t use plastic but if I have some plastic bags that something came in I use those cut to size.
I also use the bags that logs come in, or lace fabric or trim which leave an interesting texture or pattern on the print.
In these photos the turquoise dye is Procion dye and the pink is Lac, a natural dye. I made two bundles, one with each colour and boiled them separately so the colours didn’t mix.
The bundles were tied and boiled in the usual way.
Here’s a video of me opening the bundles, it’s a bit shaky with only one hand.
Here are the blankets washed and ironed, I will use these in some textile art.
At the end of July I completed a virtual Land’s End to John O’ Groats walk/jog with an online company called End To End. I mostly walked the 874 miles locally but some of my walks were further afield, Lanzerote, Italy, as well as Northumberland, The Lake District and Derbyshire to name a few places.
Each day I logged in the miles walked (a few jogged), when you reach a milestone they send you a virtual postcard, and at some stages a tree is planted, or a meal given to someone. Now I have completed the challenge I’m waiting for my T shirt and medal to arrive.
I have really become addicted to walking daily, the most I walked in a day was 15 miles. There were a few days ( e.g. when I had covid) that I didn’t walk at all.
I’ve seen some amazing sights on my journey, I clocked up a lot of miles sightseeing in Rome, Sorrento, Capri, and the Amalfi coast. As well as cliff top walks in Lanzerote. At home I have watched the seasons changing, I’ve seen lots of beautiful countryside, ancient monuments, and lots of flora and fauna along the way, especially hares, I have seen lots of hares, I started believing they were on my journey as well. I have felt humbled and made to feel in awe of nature and the ever changing seasons seasons.
I’m having a couple of days rest and then I will be setting off to walk in the other direction. Here’s a few photos.
Coreopsis gave a good orange/ rust print. The purple clematis was disappointing, as were corn marigold and crocosmia lucifer which only gave a ghost print. The tagetee leaves printed well.
One of the papers ( top photo, middle bottom) looked as though the papers hadn’t been stacked properly, but I know they were. So I believe this was caused when soaking the papers in the bath of mordant where they don’t sit directly on top of each other.
I also made some prints using dye blankets, I will tell you about this process in my next post but here’s some of the prints I made using a dye blanket.
If you want to see more ecoprinting posts for the rest of the year type “Ecoprinting throughout the year” into the search box.