This two-day workshop in the Blue Mountains was an opportunity for me to print in completely different ways to what I have experienced so far.
Starting with a block of potters clay each we rolled it out and pressed items into the surface.
Due to the delicate nature of the indented clay, and the risk of destroying the design, we printed on fine tissue paper or calico. Both took the images well.
Although we had collected twigs, leaves and plant material I decided to use a bunch of items from my stash instead.
They feel to me like single layer ‘collages’ and I really like the effect. The hard-edged items; scissors, chain and cogs – produce a sharp print which contrasts well with the more flowing areas of crocheted doily and open-weave sinamay.
The clay plate was later cast in plaster, creating an image in reverse relief.
Using an aluminium pot with plenty of plant material and water we brought our ‘stew’ to the boil and let it simmer for around 45 minutes whilst we prepared our parcels for dyeing.
We layered fabrics and paper with a lot of trapped leaves and twigs, and some rusty metal pieces. The length was then tightly rolled, tied and wrapped in a final gauze layer to stop anything falling out.
I’ve done natural dyeing quite a lot but never with this quantity of material encased. The results should have been excellent but for a couple of errors. There were 15 of us and each put around 6 rusty pieces into our parcels, way too much iron mordant – guaranteed to give us very, very dark results. In addition, the parcels were boiled for too long, around 2.5 hours – 45 minutes would have done it.
Note: The class after mine made the relevant corrections and their results were terrific, so I can have a go at this technique at home now.
Despite our mistakes, my samples aren’t bad, a bit dark but passable, and I learned what to do next time.
We took some lightweight paper, rubbed it on a tree with a coloured wax crayon and then flooded the paper with inks.
Oops, ruined it! Now I’ve just got waxy splodges all over it. As I understood it, the wax is supposed to dissolve into the paper you are ironing it onto and leave you with clean marks. Ummm….. not in my case. I should have just scraped the wax off while it was hard.
OK, that’s it for now. Look out for my next post with more techniques.