Eco printing samples part 2

In my previous post on eco printing I wondered whether the faintness of the prints, especially on felt, was due to the fact that the steam couldn’t penetrate the felt very easily when it was rolled up.

simmer sample group

So I performed a similar experiment but this time I immersed the bundles in hot water and onion skins and simmered them for an hour. Then I left them to cool overnight and opened them up the next day.

The results were definitely better, particularly on felt.

simmer sample felt eucalyptus

Interestingly, the eucalyptus on felt (above) printed orange, no matter what the mordant, while the rose leaf and petal dipped in iron mordant (below) came out best.
simmer sample rose felt

The iron mordant also worked best for sycamore leaves on felt (below).
simmer sample sycamore felt

Oak leaves on cotton mordanted with aluminium acetate (below) gave a  lovely clear print, regardless of which mordant was used on the leaves (or even when none was used at all).

simmer sample oak cotton

Sycamore and rose leaves also printed quite well on cotton, but those dipped in the iron mordant were clearest.

simmer sample rose cotton simmer sample sycamore cotton

On silk, iron-mordanted sycamore and oak leaves did best, while eucalyptus and rose leaves were pretty similar for all mordants.

simmer sample sycamore silksimmer sample oak silksimmer sample eucalyptus silk simmer sample rose silk

Conclusion? It looks as if full immersion rather than steaming is the best way to go, unless I can get a large pressure cooker or find some other way of forcing steam through the fabric more efficiently.

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Flextiles uses shibori, ecoprinting and felting to create original, one-off upcycled pieces. Extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months reduces its environmental impact by 20-30%.

10 thoughts on “Eco printing samples part 2”

  1. Thanks Hilary – I think it’s more chemistry than alchemy (next post – how to turn felt into gold!). 😉 I knew my biochemistry degree would come in useful one day!

    1. I didn’t know you had a biochemistry degree! I came pretty close to finishing a chemistry/biology double major, but switched to the humanities late in the process. Do you find yourself thinking about chemistry again as you pursue fabric dyeing? I know I do!

      1. Something else we have in common! I do find my science background very useful for fabric dyeing – but then I’m the kind of person who likes to know why I’m doing something, not just how to do it.

        I think working with textiles can be quite a lot like science: if something doesn’t work out as you expect, change an element, try again and see what happens. However, the unexpected can be very rewarding – so it’s also taught me to be much less of a control freak. 🙂

  2. Gosh, you’ve been busy Kim. These samples all look so interesting. What fun experimenting with all these different techniques. I’m just back from a gorgeous week in France with a gang of textile lovers, staying in a beautiful house called Favreau. We all managed a bit of needlefelting after lunch each day when it was too hot to sunbathe, and we’d already been to market in the morning. Bliss!

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