My neighbour Len three doors down has a very large eucalyptus tree in his garden. I kept meaning to ask if I could go and “prune” some cuttings, but I don’t see him very often (it’s like that in London!).
But I came home one day a few months ago to find a landscape gardener’s truck parked on the road filled with various branches and cuttings, including eucalyptus! There was no-one around to ask (it was lunchtime), so I salvaged an armful of eucalyptus – and it’s been sitting on my front porch ever since.
For those of you who have never done any ecoprinting, eucalyptus is one of the easiest plants to work with. It doesn’t need a mordant, prints on pretty much anything (including plastic!), and, as a bonus, fills the house with a lovely smell while “cooking”. :-)
So last week I finally got round to using some of it for ecoprinting. I started with a cream wool scarf, which gave some very strong prints.
As they were so strong, I wondered whether the prints would still show if I overdyed with indigo. I hummed and ha-ed and took a mini straw poll on Instagram, where there was a slight majority in favour of leaving it as it was.
But I tested the indigo vat after the dyeing session with Carol and it seemed to be fairly weak. So I overdyed. :-)
I’d tested the vat on cotton, and it came out fairly light blue, but the wool scarf clearly took the colour much better, so the scarf is darker than I expected. But the prints still show through.
I also printed a couple of raw silk scarves. Because the fabric is much lighter, textured and semi-transparent, I was quite disappointed when I initially unwrapped these, as the prints didn’t seem to be as strong. However, one of the things I learnt on Irit Dulman’s workshop is that you can’t tell what the final print looks like until the fabric is dry and ironed – and indeed, the print was stronger when the scarves were dry.
I’m still considering whether to overprint these with some different leaves treated with iron, but I may resist(!), given the indigo result.
As the eucalyptus worked so well on wool, I made a couple of felt vessels and printed these.
I don’t think I will overdye these! ;-)
Finally, in case you thought I was kidding about eucalyptus printing on plastic, here’s a picture of some of the plastic wrap I used to cover one of the scarves!