By Claire Brach
Earlier this week I visited a friend who lives on a 5 acre property for a day of natural dyeing. Having both attended a 5 day plant dyeing workshop in January we were eager to extend our knowledge, especially working with paper.
Annette very kindly soaked a variety of papers in alum and dried them before I arrived. We decided that this negated the need for a mordant in our cooking pot.
Cinerea branches were stripped and the leaves boiled in around 10 litres of water until a good dark orange had leached into the liquid.
We folded and sandwiched our papers with plant fibres (leaves, small seed pods, ferns, lichen, old man’s beard, and so on). Each folded sheet was separated by a piece of old cotton cloth to stop the imprints migrating and turning into a mass of unrecognisable marks.
This system is a bit like using couching cloths when making paper from pulp.
Our piles of prepared papers, fibres and cloths were then tightly tied between wooden blocks and submerged into the boiling pot and left for 2 hours.
Here are a few of my results:
In the pieces above a resist, i.e. a cloth, was placed in between the folded pages so the left and right hand sides had different plant imprints. Below you can see some where no resist was inserted and the same plant material printed in reverse on the opposite side.
These results are more vibrant than those obtained in the original class. It may be that by adding mordant to the paper in advance and allowing it to dry has enhanced the colour pick-up or perhaps it’s just that the cinerea is such a strong colour it will come through anyway. Whatever the reason the prints are sharp and well-defined and we had an excellent day of experimentation.