Thursday, January 07, 2021

For the Love of Leaves

 I can't believe I haven't written about this topic.  The blog used to be a pretty constant reflection of the things I love or am enchanted with, but for the last few years it fell by the wayside as the shiny social media platforms took over.  Well!  Let me tell you about what is dragging me out of bed every morning.  No, not the cat who thinks she's starving :-)
Leaves.  I love leaves.  

They are all over my house.  In jars, potpourris, and on the walls in frames.  I spent months visiting a glorious red cabbage bowl at a shop years ago, and when I got a chunk of money, I went and got it. 

A few years ago, I got a few cyanotype items for the website (t-shirts, notecards, and squares) and have had a lot of fun playing with that.  It is amazing to see the detail possible, just using sunlight.  By the way, the above picture is a perfect representation of the difference between my sister's and my style.  My nephew did the one on the left - nice composition, lots of experimentation.  Me in the middle - throw everything on there and enjoy all the variety.  Maryanne on the right - a plan, a pattern, suitable for framing.  This is pretty much the way we are.

Then, a couple years ago, my sister started babbling about eco-prints.  If you've been around a while or read our out of print book, The Herbal Adventures of the Twisted Sisters, you know that's exactly how the whole soap thing started.  She starts researching stuff and I keep thinking I can humor her with some "yeah, yeah."  Anyhow, a friend on fb posted some beautiful scarves that she printed with leaves.  I mentioned them to Maryanne and she YELLED, "YES!  That's what I've been talking about!"
And so it begins.

I couldn't find any pictures of our first attempts.  Just as well, really.  It was autumn and there weren't many leaves - just oak and maple.  The iron solution was too strong, and we used white cotton bandanas.  We were thrilled with the results at the time, but they were pretty bad.  Splotches of rust color, with black leaves that wound up somehow looking like camo.  Not what we were going for.  We took a break until spring and messed around with some resin work - not showing that, although we'll probably get back to that eventually.
It was a long winter waiting and studying how we could do this better.
Then spring arrived.

We started working on silk, gathered all kinds of leaves and flowers, and had a blast!  After applying the leaves to the treated silk, it gets rolled up and tied tightly.  Then it is steamed for several hours.  We had the steamer cooking every day.

Eventually, the end of summer arrived and I swore off printing for the year.  That lasted at least a week.  I have taken up many creative endeavors in the last 50 years, but never felt so completely in love with one.  

Figured out what that heavy metal thing with the pointy front is that was in the laundry room.  It's an iron!  Who knew?  It smooths out the scarves and brings out the sheen.

The weather made it almost impossible to photograph the scarves for the website, so my bonus daughter Angel loaned me the cardboard cutout she happens to have of herself.  It is (unfortunately) about 150% size, so it makes the scarves look puny.  Still, it's kind of fun and funky!  

We gathered several natural mordants and dyes over the last couple of months, and they work pretty well with reconstituted dried leaves. I'm still dyeing, and it's January.

We give all of our scarves names.  That's fun.  It does make it a little more challenging to keep them straight during washing, ironing, and packaging, though.  Still worth it.  I gave Angel and her little one scarves as gifts.  Little Skylar said, "... and what is the name of MY scarf?"  Adorable.

We continue to learn and play.  We are currently waiting for a few more mordants to try out.  I don't see an end to this.  I told Maryanne recently that any travel we do must involve leaf collecting.  Spring is just around the corner!

Our scarves can be viewed and purchased HERE

Sun Print t-shirts HERE