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My First Eco Printing Results..

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

HI! Well after all this talk of Eco printing, I have now been doing a few sessions. I have learned a lot, that I will share here, and find myself going down some more fun bunny trails in the form of learning about quilting. Wondering what I will do with these fabrics now I have made the prints?....

With both batches of printing, I did using an old cotton bedsheet for the fabric.

I pre-mordanted it using Alum powder in warm water and simmered the fabric for 2 hours.

The amount of mordant was dependant on the WOF ( weight of fabric) and used the reccomended percentage ration to that. ( many of the resources vary slightly in the amount, but I decided to go for the middle mark in that respect) I also mordanted using Cream of Tartar at the same time.

The iron oxide liquid I made myself from old rusty nails in a glass jar filled with 1:4 parts vinegar to water and let it oxidise for a few weeks on the windowsill. This liquid was strained out and I used it to dip my leaves in before arranging on the fabric. The iron oxide creates a reaction with the tannins found in the leaves and draws out the natural dyes to then fix them onto the fabric during the steaming process.

All my utensils I have gatherered together from charity shops/ upcycling organisations and I am not using ANY utensils that are part of my kitchen equipment.

It's important to do your own research on this. Although the alum and iron oxide are easily found and made, during my research, I decided to err on the side of caution as I read up on the safety and use of them.

In the summer months I will be simmering my pots of dye and eco steaming outside - for good ventilation.

For now, in the winter months this is what I do:

I completely clear my kitchen of any food or equipment and store them in cupboards or other areas in the house. I am working with my kitchen back door open and the windows also open and shut the door to the rest of the house. When working around the ixon oxide or alum I wear a surgical mask, and also while I am inspecting how the simmering / or dyeing process is going.

so, here is project ONE

I used maple and oak leaves mainly and sprinkled small bits of yellow and red onion skin around the design layout too - think that gave the nice reds and golden colours. - however they faded once I had washed them.

I rolled up the leaf designs, strung them really tightly, and steamed them for 1.5 hours and then left them overnight - to make sure all the dye had been absorbed. No peeking!

For a first attempt I was quite pleased with some of the results. Some of them failed, but it's a learning process!

this is project TWO.

The only difference with this one is that I soaked the leaves longer in the oxide water - 10 minutes or so. I used some leaves that were old or dried, such as ferns that were not green anymore - they did not seem to work at all well - so I think fresh is going be better in the future. Bramble leaves left a nice strong defintion, as did maple leaves. Pine leaves left a ghostly impression, but that was ok!

The red and yellow onion skins that were used this time turned green - I did not get the golds and reds, but this may be due to steaming them for over an hour and leaving it overnight before I unpacked them. Its all about experimenting and recording the method and result for next time!

I had used rubber bands to first secure the rolls, and then strung them up tightly with string, before popping them in the saucepan to steam. One of them, I only used rubber bands and that was a fail, as they all snapped in the heat and I did not get good impressions from the leaves on that one. I also used 2 old tin cans for the rolling up, and they work fine.

Once unwrapped and all the leaves were off, I soaked the fabric for about 15 mins in a salt water solution - that is good for fixing the colours. Ratio was 1:8 salt / water. It fixed the onion dye - but I am not sure why I do not have the reds/ golden onion colour so much this time - more green..

After that I washed them on a gentle cycle with eco friendly laundry soap and hung to dry.

I hope to find a way to keep the onion skins from turning green....

.....But I LIKE a lot of the defination I see in this project.

Next I am thinking what to do with them.. toying with the idea of making them into patchwork quilts, as I think the small sections will look good inbetween a contrasting colour.

I found a really nice You tuber who has done a beginners tutorial for a small quillt - Melanie Ham HERE

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