Ecoprinting throughout the year – May

This post is about different pots and how new versus used equipment gives different results, as well as continuing my ecoprinting throughout the year theme.

If you want to see the posts for the rest of the year type “Ecoprinting throughout the year” into the search box.

May.

Pot – Rusty roasting tin, and also a new roasting tin. Also new tile supports as well as used tiles.

Water – Tap water with vinegar.

Paper – Cartridge paper, mixed media paper, watercolour paper.

Mordant – alum acetate

Leaf dip – rust water

Plants – Cranesbill geranium, red elderberry, herb robert, cow parsley, red ligularia, astilbe, beech and rowan leaves.

Cooking time – 40 minutes, turned, 40 minutes.

Blanket -none.

Images

This bundle was left overnight before going in the rusty pot. I don’t think it has made any difference to the prints.

Plants from the rusty roasting pan

The print below was cooked in the new roasting pan.

Plants from the new roasting pan

Below is a comparison of prints, on the left is the old rusty pan, on the right the new pan was used.

A comparison of the rusty pan on the left and the new pan on the right. The new pan print is much brighter but less tonal contrast than the one done in the old rusty pan.

This ligularia leaf is a good example of how some leaves give different prints from each side of the leaf.

A great example of how some leaves print differently depending on which side is in contact with the paper.

Conclusion – The plants in the rusty roasting tin are less vibrant in colour than the ones with new tile supports, cooked in the new roasting tin. The prints done in the rusty pan have more tonal contrast due to the iron in the pot. The ligularia leaf prints show how sometimes each side of the leaf prints differently.

My next post will give step by step instructions for ecoprinting on paper, I hope you will try it for yourself. You need some rusty water so if you haven’t started yours off I suggest you do so now, you can read about making it here. Adding some fine grade wire wool and vinegar will speed up the process.

No Meat May Begins – The Added Bonus Of Weight Loss .

We used to eat a lot of vegetarian food but somehow we have gotten out of the practice of 5 days vege so I signed up for No Meat May There are lots of reasons to eat less meat as you will be aware, my main reason at present is to lose a few pounds and get back to feeling more fit and healthy.

My breakfast consists of banana and low fat Greek yoghurt with a teaspoon of honey. Lunches are homemade soups, or salad with avocado, egg, or cottage cheese. Eggs on toast or Marmite mushrooms from Pinch of Nom are firm favourites, I’m cutting carbs so I served marmite mushrooms in half a roasted pepper instead of on toast. Also cutting out alcohol.

I’ve decided to use my new Ninja 9 in 1 and my slow cooker as much as possible for our main meals, I’m trying to save on the gas and electric bills. Also doubling up a recipe will give us meals for the freezer and save energy too, I did this with the chilli.

Monday.

I took a look in the fridge to see what veg needed using up, I hate food waste. There was a tagine spice mix from The Spicery leftover from Christmas so a tagine was on the menu. I roasted the root veg in the Ninja first, then added everything else and simmered until done.

Tuesday

It was cold so we had 2 bean and sweet potato chilli, with beans I had cooked from dried in the Ninja pressure cooker and frozen. I make this a lot and don’t follow a recipe.

Wednesday

When I’m calorie counting ( I’m eating about 800 to 900 calories a day) I often use a diet recipe from a cookbook or website so I know the calorie count, but I don’t usually weigh anything or follow the recipe exactly. This is Cheesy Aubergine Bake from Pinch of Nom. It looks dark but it was lovely and thick, that’s how we like it.

Thursday

Today I wanted something I could prepare in the morning and cook without much fuss in the evening. I have 3 caulis in the fridge so l made roasted cauliflower with vegan bacon seasoning, a slaw with fennel, carrot, cabbage and apple, with white wine vinegar and a little olive oil dressing. We had sweet potato chips which were air fried, as was the cauliflower. I served this with a roasted red pepper sauce that I had in the freezer. I get a veg box delivery every week and there’s usually a pepper in it, as I’m the only one who eats them I often make them into a sauce and freeze it in an ice cube tray.

Friday

We usually eat fish on a Friday but today we had something different. I made quick seitan yesterday from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken. I’ve never made or even eaten seitan before so I didn’t know what to expect. It was very easy to make, I steamed it in the Ninja. This was used to make Hairy Dieters lemon chicken, only without the chicken, served with cauliflower fried rice. I told you I had a lot of cauliflowers.

Saturday

We have curry on a Saturday, but today there’s no meat, rice or breads. Once again I looked at the veg from my box delivery to decide what to make. I opted for a beetroot and coconut curry from The Spicery, ‘How To be A Curry Legend’ book and spice kit. I used their spices in all my curries. The cabbage curry was inspired by a Youtube video. The creamy vegetable curry is based on Pinch of Nom ‘Oven Baked Pasanda’ but I changed things up a bit using vegies, and my own mix of spices. The sauce is from the book, it’s good, and low calorie. All my curries were made in the Ninja.

I made some chickpea tofu yesterday from Delicious Every Day I wanted this to be crispy so I marinated it in a little oil and spices,with ginger and garlic then air fried in the Ninja. I don’t really like tofu but I love this, they were light and fluffy.

Sunday

I was going to make a roast dinner today with vegetarian sausages and onion gravy but as the other half of the aubergine bake is sitting in the fridge we will be having that with salad. Next week I won’t need to cook every day as there are meals in the freezer.

I said at the beginning of this post that I was taking part in No Meat May for several reasons, two being to lose some weight and get fitter. With that in mind I have been exercising every day, gym twice a week, at least a 3 mile walk every day, and 10 minutes on the exercise bike when I can fit it in. I’ve also been drinking 6 or 7 glasses of water a day too.

We have enjoyed all our meals very much, even OH said he was loving our dinners. I feel great, have more energy and I was amazed when I got on the scales this morning and saw that I’ve lost 6 pounds. I never thought that would be possible in just a week, maybe I can reach my target of losing 12 pounds by the end of the month. I’ll get back to you then and tell you how No Meat May went.

My First Willow Basket.

Having a skill swap with a creative friend is a wonderful way to share our creativity. Last weekend my friend came to stay, I showed her how to make a simple pair of cropped trousers for her holidays, and I made her a boiled wool coat. The next day she showed me how to weave a willow shopping basket, she made me a large vegetable basket as a swap for the coat.

We always share the cooking and refreshments on these weekends, a good time is had by everyone including the husbands. Personally I feel like I’ve been on a residential course and I’m very inspired to learn more about basket making.

This is the base of my basket, it came out quite flat but a heavy weight on top also helps.

The basket started to look like a very large spider.

There were various techniques involved in weaving the basket, French randing and three rod waling. Basket terminology has me intrigued, I wonder how old these names are, they must be very old.

Here’s my finished basket, I needed quite a lot of help with the handle. I’m really pleased with it, I know it will get a lot of use.

Once my friend left I had a go at making a small basket with the leftover willow to see how much I could remember. It turned out a bit wonky, maybe because I couldn’t trim the willow much as I didn’t have enough withies.

I do have problems with my hands and they are quite sore so I will have to rest them before I start my next willow project. I need some more obelisks for the garden, and maybe some plant supports too.

Ecoprinting throughout the year – April

It’s April and there’s lots of new foliage about now to print with. I have deliberately picked new leaves from my favourite plants which I know print well throughout the year. Also I had to try some of the flowers that are out this month.

If you want to see the rest of the year type “Ecoprinting throughout the year” into the search box.

April.

Pot – Rusty roasting tin

Water – Tap water with vinegar.

Paper – Cartridge paper, mixed media paper, watercolour paper.

Mordant – alum acetate

Leaf dip – rust water

Plants – Flowering currant, rose, cranesbill geranium, elder, astilbe, herb Robert, grape hyacinth, dandelion, bluebells.

Cooking time – 40 minutes, turned, 40 minutes.

Blanket -none.

Images

New rose leaves, the top 2 pictures show both sides of the leaf.
Flowering currant, the one on the left was printed this time last year in a different pot.
Cranesbill geraniums showing both sides of the leaf.
Herb Robert and astilbe.
Grape hyacinth, dandelions and bluebells.
Elder leaf.

Conclusion – As I already mentioned I chose leaves from plants I know print well, but a lot of plants are not so good at this time of year, the bluebells, grape hyacinth and dandelions didn’t print so well, but it really depends on what you want to use the prints for, sometimes a delicate print is what’s required.

I used a very rusty roasting tin for these prints which I believe has interacted with the leaf tannins to produce the dark prints. But there are so many variables, which for me makes ecoprinting exciting.

Happy Paste Egg Day! – Ecoprinted Eggs

Happy paste egg day, or should that be pase egg? It depends where you live I suppose. In the north east they are paste eggs but in the north west they call them pace eggs. Both names are derived from ‘pascha’ meaning Easter.

I used to make these with my Gran when I was a little girl. As they are a form of plant printing I thought I would have another go.

Then we used different plants and flowers such as pansies and grasses, bound to the egg with thread, or put in old tights and tied at the top. Then they were put in a pan of onion skins and water and hard boiled. Sometimes eggs were just put in the pan of skins and boiled, giving a nice random pattern, I decided to try both.

I couldn’t get any white eggs anywhere so I used the palest brown eggs. I wanted some onion dyed cotton fabric for a course I’m taking so I used cotton fabric squares to make my bundles.

Please note, the cotton has no mordant, and I used herbs just to be sure there are no toxic substances going into my eggs.

I laid some sage leaves and rosemary sprigs on my eggs and tied them up in a bundle using string. I also put some eggs in the pan and filled with onion skins. I put some pieces of fabric in the pan and I think this prevented my eggs from banging into each other as none of them cracked.

The pan was topped up with onion skins and water and put on to boil for 10 minutes.

Then took out the eggs and I opened up the bundles. The ones in the pan were a little disappointing as they weren’t as marbled as those I remember but the bundled ones were better, especially the sage leaves.

I wiped them with a little cooking oil to give them a shine.

If I was still a little girl I would roll the eggs on the garden path, or Gran and I would do egg jabbing to crack the shells but we shall just eat them in a sandwich.

Happy Easter.

eco dyed easter eggs

When In Rome.

Last week we went to visit family in Rome, we have been waiting since 2020 to go, it was well worth the wait. Rome is such an amazing place, there’s so much to see and do.

One thing you definitely need in Rome is comfortable walking shoes, we walked between 9 and 12 miles each day. We broke up the distance with some people watching and an aperitivo, what’s not to like about an Aperol spritz and bruschetta. The food is amazing, delicious pasta, gelato and pizza. I loved the lighter, crisp, oval Roman pizza called pinsa, which is probably where the word pizza originates.

We planned ahead and booked the hop on hop off Green bus, Colosseum, Forum and Villa Borghese tickets online which saved a lot of queuing. One piece of valuable advice I was given is if you pass a church have a look inside as you don’t know what great artwork you might find.

Rome is an exceptional place, I can’t really find the words so I will let my photos do the talking, if you remember the film Roman Holiday with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn you might recognise some of these photos. Click on the image to see in full. Enjoy!

Unfortunately not long after coming home we tested positive for Covid, I suppose it had to happen sometime. Fortunately we are ok.

I can’t wait until we visit Rome again, there’s so much more to see and do.

You can’t hold back Spring.

Spring has arrived and there’s so much to do. I haven’t been making much for the past few months because of the house renovations ( will it ever be finished?) but I have had to make time to do some clay work as the Spring flowers are in bloom and they won’t wait. So be it when you work with the seasons.

The snowdrops have gone over now but I got these made a couple of weeks ago. I’m waiting until I have a kiln load to bisque fire them.

I made these ceramic hearts yesterday with daffodils, catkins, prunus blossom, brunnera and pulmonaria.

Also some trinket dishes.

Art tiles, I love seeing these all together, they look great in a group on the wall.

The days are getting lighter and the weather has improved so I have been out walking more. I’m doing a virtual Lands End to John O’Groats walk, a total of 874 miles. This is one of my favourite places, I’m going to have to paint this scene one day.

While I’m out I find lots of inspiration, also pocket finds, I can’t resist picking things up. This treasure trove was found on a walk up the lane. You don’t have to go far to find something inspirational.

It’s almost time for my next ecoprinting endeavour, April’s post will be about old and new foliage.

High Pike and Carrock Fell Walk

The weather has been so good that we had to get out and head for the Northern Lake District fells for a walk. These are some of our favourite fells mainly because they are not as popular as the more well known fells so you can almost have the place to yourself.

While I’m out I’m always searching for painting subjects.

The walk up High Pike is fairly easy. This area was a mining area mainly for tungsten and magnetic iron, it’s an area of geological interest, the gabbro found here is only found on the Isle of Skye.

Once up the views are spectacular.

Frome here we set off up Carrock Fell, which is about 2 miles away in this photo below. Carrock is derived from carreg meaning stony, I think there should be a mention of the peat bogs in the name too, it was quite wet in a few places.

Looking towards Carrock Fell from High Pike.
The summit is in sight.

Once reaching the summit I was surprised at the size of the Neolithic hillfort, it was destroyed by the Romans but the boundary walls are still visible.

What a vantage point, not forgetting it was a lot warmer in Neolithic times.

Once we started our decent and got out of the wind I stopped, there was total silence, a rare thing these days.

I read that Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins climbed Carrock Fell, they were not impressed. Collins sprained his ankle. Dickens used this as inspiration in his novella ‘The Lazy Tour Of Two Idle Apprentices’, the characters are Francis Goodchild, (Dickens) and Thomas Idle, (Collins).

On the way down we got onto the wrong path, we could see our path so we had to cut across country, we came to a stream which was too wide to leap across, there was nothing for it but to take off our boots and socks and paddle across, my feet went numb.

An added bonus on our 13 mile walk was a sighting of the fell ponies which are said to have originated from Roman ponies. A perfect day out on the fells.

Ecoprinting throughout the year – March

March is here, it’s time for more ecoprinting / botanical printing experiments.

If you want to see the rest of the year type “Ecoprinting throughout the year” into the search box.

In the future there will be posts comparing plants for example, and a beginners step by step guide to printing on paper my way.

March.

Pot – Rusty roasting tin

Water – Tap water with vinegar.

Paper – Windsor & Newton cartridge paper, watercolour paper

Mordant – alum acetate

Leaf dip – rust water, the cranesbill leaves were soaked for about 5 minutes rather than just dipped in rust water.

Plants – dried acer leaves, dried wild cranesbill , aquilegia, new rose leaves, hellebore, gerbera from a bouquet of flowers.

Cooking time – 40 minutes, turned, 40 minutes.

Blanket – hellebore and gerbera being thick flowers benefit from a thick blanket like felt or old blanket.

Images

The gerbera flower in this photo is just the stain coming through from the flower on the other side of the paper.

Conclusion – Aquilegia leaf printed rust , which was unexpected so was the print from the new rose leaf. The dried acer and cranesbill were as good as I expected. The cranesbill prints were dark due to the longer soak in iron water. The bright pink gerbera printed yellow.

As the leaf buds are starting to open next month I will be trying out ecoprinting on paper with new foliage.

Ecoprinting throughout the year – February

February has come around quickly, it’s time for another post about my ecoprinting / botanical printing journey throughout the year. During my journey I will share photos of my prints to see what works best at what time of year, and more.

If you want to see the rest of these “year posts” type “Ecoprinting throughout the year” into the search box. There will be other posts comparing plants for example, and a beginners step by step guide to printing on paper my way.

February.

Pot – Rusty roasting tin

Water – Tap with vinegar, I used the boiling water from the day before topped up.

Paper – Windsor & Newton cartridge paper

Mordant – alum acetate

Leaf dip – rust water

Plants -hellebore, cranesbill, aconite, herb Robert, daffodil, snowdrop, dried leaves.

Cooking time – 40 minutes, turned, 40 minutes.

Blanket -fabric dipped in iron water and rung out. Used on the snowdrops and dried sycamore leaf. (More about blankets later).

Observations – The wine coloured hellebores printed blue grey the prints are ok but some of the plant material damaged the paper as they are bulky flowers.

The daffodil printed better than I expected.

The dried leaves soaked in iron water printed well especially the sycamore leaf.

Snowdrops didn’t impart much colour (as expected) however ghost prints were achieved by using the iron blanket and the reused rusty water in the roasting tin helped in making darker prints.

Herb Robert printed black, probably because there was a lot of iron present in the pot.

The cranesbill didn’t print as well as expected. Maybe this was because the bulky flowers of the helebores prevented the cranesbill leaves having good contact with the paper.

The aconite leaves printed but the flower didn’t leave any colour at all.

Images

Conclusion – Bulky plant material like hellebores would probably be better with a thick fabric blanket between the papers acting like a cushion which gives better contact with the paper and less damage. Good contact with the paper is essential for detailed prints.