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Botanical printing on paper

Botanical printing on paper is cheap and relatively easy. You can make it as simple or sophisticated as you want. You can use up natural dyes and small amounts of plant material leftover from larger projects and use more or less any paper you can lay your hands on.  Equipment Paper - this can be artist paper eg cartridge, watercolour or sketchbook: plain wallpaper aka lining paper, pages from old book, old envelopes, copy paper, repair tissue, kraft paper or thin card. In fact try anything that isn’t too thin or shiny.  Leaves and flowers - use the ones you know print well on fabric either because they have high tannin or give good colour. Leaves that have a good shape but are not good printers can be used as resists either tucked under a printer or when using a dye. Flowers especially daisy shaped ones work well.  Tiles or similar- I prefer to use leftover ceramic tiles cut to size to fit my fish kettle. However I know that Rita Summers aka Gone Rustic successfully
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Whilst in lockdown the garden has been receiving a lot of attention, especially the areas that have been left unattended for several years. One such patch was the rhubarb bed. The original plants were over ten years old and this year they refused to produce any useable stalks. So up they came and after investigation the roots weren’t even suitable to split and replant they were rotten and woody. So the decision was made to replace with new and I got to chop up the ‘good’ bits for some natural dyeing. I had successfully made a mordant from leaves before but never used the roots.  After cleaning, peeling and chopping they looked like this. Next it was time to consult Jenny Deans book ‘Wild Colour’.  The 600gms roots were brought to a simmer for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile I prepared my fabric. Animal fibres give the best results and although fabric does not require a mordant I chose to mordant my silk habotai and noil with Alum and Cream of Tartar. A piece of 50/50 silk wool


Whilst in Australia on our month’s trip, David sketched (@davidsteedenart on Instagram if you are interested) and I did some botanical printing with the local leaves. The image below gives an indication of 4 of the results I achieved. I brought along with me some green tea teabags and ferrous sulphate powder. This allowed me to play around with strengths and combinations. Top left is a white linen, no alum or AA mordant dipped in iron with a green tea kitchen towel blanket. Top right is vintage Lancashire cotton, no alum or AA mordant dipped in iron with an kitchen towel green tea blanket. The leaves were soaked in vinegar. Bottom left is silk noil no alum or AA mordant dipped in iron with a green tea kitchen towel blanket.  Bottom right is vintage linen no alum or AA mordant dipped in iron with a strong green tea kitchen towel blanket. Note how the results all vary. Due to varying fabrics, leaves used, length of time dipped, strength of dips.   These f

Paper prints

Using paper in my botanical printing as a resist results in wonderful pieces of printed paper as a byproduct. In particular when printing flowers. Purple flowers, these were osteospermum, change to a pleasing blue. The watercolour effect is so serendipitous and makes brilliant wrapping paper and cards. See more of my botanical prints on my Facebook and Instagram pages as Inspired Textiles.

Latest commission

Bev choose this scarf that I printed from the material we collected from her garden. She was concerned that her neglected garden wouldn’t have sufficient suitable plants. They have been concentrating on renovating their house and the garden has taken a back seat recently. I assured her that it’s not alway the prettiest manicured plants that make the best marks and prints. We collected a selection of leaves and weeds from the country lane that borders her garden. She chose a 150x40cms habotai scarf and I went away to bundle. The best approach I felt was to print two mirror images of the same material so she had a choice. She chose the above which was the iron soaked scarf twin of a tannin soaked scarf. The high tannin leaves, stems and heads of weeds and plants have the deep purples and aubergine shades. The mesh effect of the Cotinus spent flower heads prints dark grey. Overall a delightful colour scheme. Bev’s comments say it all. “I am absolutely delighted and love Mar

Using up bits of printed and dyed silk

I wove strips of dyed silk noil to form a background for this painted helenium. The hand embroidery is done in my dyed threads and the helenium painted in Derwent Inktense watercolour pencils. They are vibrant high pigment pencils that once dry are fast.

Cochineal and contact printed silk scarf

This scarf was a real surprise when I unbundled it. I originally dyed the silk twill in cochineal then picked some of the remaining Acer Griseum leaves before they all fall. To achieve the discharge I laid an iron blanket on the top of the leaves before bundling. It was steamed for two hours.