30. Dec, 2019

The Making of the Eco Sampler Quilt On the Blog

During 2018-2019 I experimented with a number of ideas in eco dying. I was trying to get to the stage where I could get a semi predicable result from specific leaves on various fabric types. It is so important to scour fabric - even old linen to get rid of any starches, finses etc before anything else is done as these additions act as a resist and inhibit both the mordants and the later leaf prints. The piece in this photo is plain cotton that has been scoured with soda ash and fairy detergent (ph neutral). I mardanted first with an tannic process and then with aluminium sulphate. I have since been told aluminium acetate is better on cotton but I have not yet tried that alternative. I tend to scour and mordant a larger piece of cotton and then tear off pieces for the project in hand. The leaves in this piece are Autumn collected. The large 5 fingered ones are liquid amber (sweet gum) and the lemon shaped ones are glowering cherry. The smaller starry flowers are from a small leafed maple. I laid out the cotton fabric damp but not too wet. If it is too wet the images will not be so clear. I Placed the leaves and then covered with an iron blanket of mild ferrous sulphate in a kitchen towel. Using a mild solution tends to just give the darker outline without discolouration of the fabric that can happen with a stronger solution - especially is there is lots of tannin present in both pre-mordant and leaves.. Over this I placed a plastic sheet - contact wrap works well but can only be used ones. The plastic sheet needs to be longer than the fabric for bundling. The plastic acts as a separator so that images do not get printed over top of other leaf images during the steaming process. I placed a heavy weight on top of the plastic an carefully lifted and slightly pulled all layers taught. The secret to getting a good print is to have prepared your fabric and to have very good contact between the leaves and the fabric. I use a variety of rollers/plastic tubes according to what I am rolling. Rigid offcuts from the plumber are easy to roll but the size of the bundle is then limited to the length of your steamer. Heavy plastic tube is harder to get a tight roll with but can be folded over so a wider piece of fabric can be printed. Completely roll up your bundle with an overlaps of plastic so too much moister does not get into the bundle. This is the opposite from the boiled papers which are immersed in water. I have an oblong slow cooker that I use for steaming. I place a brick in the bottom to keep the bundle out of the water and fill with water to just below the level of the brick. The bundle is placed on the brick and then it is steamed for two hours. I do check the cooker during this time to make sure it is not running out of water but it is usually fine. As this was an experiment I used an end of fabric that had a piece cut out at the bottom right. This is not a good idea because it created problems when I eventually came to join the samples to make the quilt block. I had to insert a piece of fabric to avoid cutting into the prints, But at this stage I was just experimenting/playing and I hadn't thought about what I might do with the samples