Normally, I like the look of eco prints all mixed together. It reminds me of the way nature really is. The fabric reflects flowers floating in a mixture of foliage in the garden or individual leaves that pop out from the visual mass of the tree. Sometimes however, the pattern of the individual leaf becomes the most important thing. In this case I am working on lampshades and other lighting ideas and so a clear background becomes important so that the light shines through the individual leaf print. In order for the leaves in one layer to not "ghost" through to another layer a barrier must be used. This leads to a fairly controversial topic-barriers. The controversy stems from the fact that the name most people use for this process is "eco printing"; meaning ecologically sustainable or sound. So, there seems to be something inherently wrong about using plastic sheeting, a petroleum product. The problem lies in the manufacture of the plastic itself and then there is the whole notion of steaming or boiling it. It will put off fumes that you may or may not be able to smell, possibly creating a danger to yourself. Also, there is probably no way to get the petroleum molecules off whatever your finished product is, thus making it possible, in theory, to have the petroleum seep into your skin from the finished wearable. I don't want to get into the middle of the fruckus, but I do wonder if some of my nasal issues are from making those hair flowers using melted polyester-so I chose to avoid use of plastics whenever possible from here on out.
|Hollyhock, Filbert, and Coreopsis, along with plenty of "ghosts".|
So, what could be used instead? Since I already did a post about using layers of fabric in between the folds, I thought I would work with some aluminum foil. Trouble is, I get so into things when I am doing them I forget to take pictures. Earlier this week I decided to just set up some "stunt" fabric to show the steps clearly rather than a hodge podge of unrelated pictures. First off, imagine the fabric in the pictures is wet. It is silk dupioni with rusted steel wool as mordant.
|Lay out plant material, remember that most leaves print out the under or veined side of the leaf.|
|Cover with foil. At first I thought cheap dollar store foil would be fine, but decided that heavy duty could be reused or refolded and was easier to work with without tearing it.|
|Put on the last layer of foil. If you don't, you will have the ghosts of the leaves down the the last layer of the fabric in the bundle. Roll around a stick and tie it up for the steamer pot.|
|Ready to go!|
As I said this was stunt fabric. The following is one of the actual examples I made, and then didn't take enough process shots for it to make any sense. This is silk noil with steel wool as the mordant, using black walnut leaves and marigold petals on both pieces. Raw silk is thick enough that you don't get as much ghosting anyway, but there is a definite difference in the background color and density.
|With no barrier layers|
|With a foil barrier. The background is clearer and the color of the walnut leaves more intense.|
One important thing to remember is that aluminum foil will act as a mordant carrier blanket. It isn't terribly noticeable but you do get different colors than you would without. I am playing around with the whole carrier blanket thing and will post more about that later. The foil is mostly reusable if you get the wet plant material off right away and it can be refolded with the clean side out for reuse. Foil is kind of expensive but it is more effective than multiple layers of fabric. The interesting thing about using multiple layers of fabric is you get that fabric to use for something else.