I would have known that if I actually looked through her website - check it out here...
She spoke to us and showed us many, many examples of transfering images and colour from natural plant materials, and rust onto cellulose (linen, rayon, cotton )or protein fibers (wool, silk), and the work she has done with it. She provided us with some written information, and answered many questions, and unveiled some pieces she just started just days prior to the workshop. Then we spent several hours doing it hands on.
Here are some of the fabric samples she provided, including some of her finished pieces.
This was a prize winning wall quilt she made - she backed it and free motion machine quilted, following the lines of the pattern that came through with the dyeing. Gorgeous.
I was wowed by the clarity of the leaf imprints that came through.
There is beautiful tones and variation in patterns as well.
This bottom one is strawberry leaves of all things!
I learned that protein helps to grab colour, so for cellulose based fibers, you need a protein mordant, and one easy way is to dip the fabric in milk (skim milk powder in water in our case) and wring it out. It can be dyed wet or dried.
|Our massive vat of milk solution - far more than we needed.|
We worked with cottons, wools, and various silks - I made at least 8-10 different wraps - cotton, wool crepe, silk chiffon, and raw silk, and rug hooking wool, with found Fall leaves from the ground, with fresh sage, with sumac leaves and flower heads, with dried ferns and goldenrod, with onion skins, beets, and with rusty nails. The only thing I have to do is make sure the plant materials stay wet for awhile and sit for a few days for the colour to take, and to make sure the metal bits have some time to oxidize. I may still need to boil the ones with the nails, since they have some plant material in them, in a solution of alum and water for a couple of hours, to get the plant material to release the colour.
I hope it works - one has to lay the plants/rust on the material, and make sure to wrap tightly and secure with twine, thread, or elastics.
Here are our various bundles in a bin with 1:1 vinegar and water - these bundles have rusty bits in them, and some with plant materials. This is a cold solution and the bundles need to soak for 20-30 minutes, then allowed to oxidize. This can be done outside, as heat and air will help the rust to set - and the rust can be reused. If using plant material, apparently you can then boil it in a vat with alum and water to set the plant material colours, if you don't see enough colour to your liking - don't unwrap though until you think enough colour is showing through!
This is a vat of bundles of plants only, no iron - which could darken and discolour the materials - some of the boiled bits with iron turn out quite BLACK - which I will show later.
This vat is plant materials and can be mixed with iron.
The above is with walnut paste/solution - aged, old, rotting walnut leaves and nuts - it stinks like fresh manure, but gives very effective colour - below is her containers of the walnut goo. Trust me, what my dogs pooped out this morning smelled better than this stuff!
Right now, my boiled bundles are still wrapped and soaking in a bit of the moisture from the tubs, in zip bags, in a basin in my bathroom - I will let them soak for awhile, before taking them out and then letting them stay wrapped for awhile before seeing how they imprint - patience is apparently the key. My rust bundles are sitting in a basin, open to air to allow them to oxidize.
Maggie apparently started several bundles about 3 days prior to the workshop, and she brought the bundles with her, to open and show us how they turned out - she had no idea how they would look, and sometimes the colouring doesn't take - but every single one she showed us was a wonder and just built our excitement.
These are frankly stunning - it looks like the leaf is right on the fabric - but that is the dyed impression! The black bar is a rusty bar - and it transfers some of the darkness to the edge of the maple leaf.
If you look closely - you can see the veining of the leaf too, and the stem impresses as well - so beautiful - and so much of what I love - I love Fall leaves. I saw so many walking the dogs these past few weeks, but I thought that I would need fresh leaves - NO - use fallen leaves, and they don't have to be flat, but obviously that gives a clear impression - and wet is fine, they are going in a hot alum bath anyways!
Here are her freshly unbundled pieces drying on a rack - look at those colours - and the rust!
Some more of the leaves. She showed how she cuts some of them and staples them onto canvas. I would love to do that, if mine turn out (or make more in the future) as the art by the bed upstairs. I was talking with another attendee about using rust powder mixed with water or gel to make a paint to paint onto the fabric too, or after dyeing, picking out details with paint sticks or other drawing materials like paintsticks, or water colour pencils. I was also wondering about using a spray art fixative to set the colours too, in case fading may be an issue in the future, especially in sun. Or the 1:1 fabric medium/water spray, and ironing?
I am stunned by the colours - I really hope mine turn out similar to this! I would love to do this for a Hoop/embroidery project too - or scarves/bags for presents. For the wool - maybe even a felted folio or journal - or materials for art/mixed media pieces!
I am just stunned by how clear the leaves are imprinted!
The detail is incredible - this is a lock plate that was rusted and dyed - so clear you can see the bolt holes and the keyhole!
I may be a convert! Keeping fingers crossed that I get something somewhat like this when I am brave enough to unwrap my bundles!
Oh yes - I learned something else exciting too - apparently this can be done with paper too to dye good quality art paper - 120-140 lb water colour or other high quality paper, but instead of immersing and boiling, it would need to be held flat in layers and set up above a pan of water and steamed to release the colours. I can't wait to explore that a bit further!