Notions-Drye Goods Studio Diary

Thanks for checking in. I am a fiber artist. My current emphasis is on eco printing and other wildcraft with a touch of up-cycling thrown in. You can also catch up with me on Facebook at Drye Goods Studio.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

50 Shades of Gray

I have never minded the interplay between layers of fabric in eco printing. Meaning, that when you bundle or roll up the fabric as it steams color from the plant material bleeds through the layers of fabric. Apparently some do, to the point of putting plastic between the layers. Although I am not big on telling other people what to do with their days, I am the person trying to get rid of all the plastic tubs and bags out of my studio and out of my life as even just sitting in the air you can watch them degrade and change. I wonder what sorts of chemicals I have been breathing in from the plastic junk we all have in our lives. So, you can probably imagine how I feel about cooking layers of plastic wrap. It is called eco (short for ecological) printing after all. 

I have had some students that really, really wanted a "cleaner" look so I was pondering how one would go about that without bringing petroleum products into the picture. Since I had a brain fart a while back when laying out sumac leaves for this mythological lampshade I keep threatening to make, I thought I would use the do-over as an experiment in putting layers of fabric into the roll to see if it "cleaned up" or gave more definition to the prints. This might actually be beneficial when making a lampshade anyway. I hope the pictures are helpful, as the post title hints-we have a whole lotta gray going on.

I started by double checking which direction I wanted the sumac fronds to go first so I didn't end up with yet another very pretty piece of silk dupioni for which there is no immediate plan. Starting in from the edge of the fabric I laid out the sumac underside down since most leaves print out the underside of the leaf. I folded that layer over with no fabric strip inside it.

The top photo shows the first fronds with the fabric folded over them and the next set of fronds. The second picture shows another layer of dupioni over that second set of fronds. The original fabric was treated with steel wool, the strips with rusted nails, I hope it makes the pictures a bit clearer as to what is what! Click on the image to enlarge it.
The next step was to fold the first set of leaves over the leaves that have the layer of fabric on them already. I worked from the outer edges inward; laying down the fronds, covering with fabric strips and then folding until the folds met in the middle and I made the last fold and rolled it up. This is a really big lampshade, so it is a really big roll. I let this steam for a couple of hours since not only was it very big, the dupioni is a thicker fabric the the crepe de chine I work with most of the time. I let it sit around about a week and then opened it up. The following pictures show the differences-I hope.

This is the fabric from a few weeks before. On the left is the print the sumac made from the underside (the side with the veins). It is very well defined. On the right is what normally prints off the top of the leaf. It is a gray green with with a blackish edge and is also fairly crisp. Between the leaves of that print you can see the "ghost" of the next layer that was wrapped around it. They are the smudgy shadows that are pointing up compared to the actual print.

This is the example with the layers of fabric between each fold. Since my main goal was to print the fabric I wanted to use for the lamp shade I laid all the fronds underside down against the main fabric. As you can see both fronds are very well defined and while they did dye the background gray as in the first piece, there are very few "ghosts" of the other layers.

This may not be all that clear on your screen, but the fabric on the left is the one that was done with extra layers of fabric, the background is a good degree lighter than the piece on the right, which is the first one I did. The extra fabric layers soaked up the "dye" coming off the sumac leaves.

This is what the strips of layering fabric look like, lots of color with little definition. These will be great for journal covers or purses when I mix them with other fabrics.
I think this was an interesting thing to do and was worth the effort. For the most part I am going to continue doing what I have been doing with scarves and shawls. As I said in the beginning, I love the play between the actual prints and the spirits of the prints from the next layer in the roll. While cleaning up the barn loft I found a piece of copper sheet, that could be an interesting thing to roll up in a bundle, and there is always aluminum foil.

And yes, here is where there should be a fantastic photo of the lamp. No such luck. I am still trying to decide if it would be better to use the original framework from the upcycled lampshade or to make a whole new framework. When I get the engineering worked out I will be sure to post pictures here first!

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