My current work focuses on using natural dyes, local and traditional, to create extraordinary color, pattern and texture on cloth.
Eco- or botanical contact prints are created by layering prepared natural fiber cloth and paper with local plants and flowers. The material and leaves are bundled together, tightly bound and steamed. This process creates a permanent transfer of pigment and dye chemicals from the leaves to the cloth. No external dyes, inks or paints are used in eco-printing. All color and pattern come from the plants themselves!
Eco-printing techniques developed and popularized by India Flint of South Australia, focus on bioregionalism and the use of sustainable, organic and non toxic materials. I concentrate on using only the plants of the Blue Hill Peninsula and creating extremely detailed prints.
I love this process. It releases extraordinary secrets from local plants we see every day and often take for granted. Eco-printing allows me to look beyond the usual green of leaves and to see their shape and architecture, and explore their chemistry.
I print silk scarves and a variety of textiles for clothing (linen, silk, hemp, organic cotton) – which I sew from original patterns. Eco-printed textiles can also be used for home decoration in the form of hangings, pillows, bed covers and art.
Indigo is a natural blue dye derived from the plant Indigofera tinctoria and related species. Indigo has been used as a colorant for nearly 5,500 years. The dye is extracted from the leaves through a lengthy process of soaking and fermentation, drying and grinding. When the cloth or fiber is removed from the dye vat it changes, as if by magic, from yellow-green through green and turquoise to blue. Multiple dips in the dye vat are required to create dark shades. Indigo has been used as a colorant for nearly 5,500 years. Shibori is a Japanese term for several methods of dyeing cloth with a pattern by binding, stitching, folding, twisting to prevent dye from penetrating all parts of the cloth.
Rust printing uses iron oxide, better known as rust, to make marks on cloth. Iron is traditionally used in natural dyeing to ‘sadden’ colors. The dyes react with the rust markings or prints to create a range of colors using a single dyestuff. I create random prints by packing alum-mordanted silk into rusted pans and other found objects. I also screen print my original drawings of winter plants skeletons using an iron-infused print paste to create imagery by oxidizing the natural dyes on the cloth.
Nuno felting is a fabric felting technique. Loose wool and other fibers are combined with sheer silk to create delicate yet durable cloth with the extraordinary properties of both very fine wool and silk. Through designs may be repeated, each piece is made by hand and is unique. Nuno felted pieces are dyed with sustainably sourced traditional natural dyes: madder, cochineal, indigo, osage orange, weld, woad, myrobalan, and pomegranate.
All printing and coloring is done with natural dyes – no toxic chemicals or additives are used! Non-toxic, local, sustainable!