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testing

May 23, 2015

 

The past week was about testing.  I ventured out in the nearest neighbourhood to collect weeds. For this I like to use an old book, pressing plants as I pick. For a small sample I only need few leaves and when I come home I just pop something heavy on top until I have time to bundle and dye. Here is one of the samples. I am afraid I have yet to find out names of some of these – the russet print at the top is from hot pink flowers and red green leaves from a tree. The orange brown leaf on the right is Eucalyptus Erythrocorys I am growing indoors in the pot.

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testing plants

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I also tested printing on paper and am loving it.

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paper print

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acer

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maple

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paper print

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Fabrics from the week before were washed and ironed, here are few photos of the ones from previous post.

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berries

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roses
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berries
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There is some amazing eco print done at the moment, seen especially on Facebook. It’s so inspiring and temps to be tried, one has to be careful not to loose head and/or forget what it is that she wanted to say. At times I find it a challenge and wonder how to stay true to ourselves in the midst of all the – often very good and positive and inspiring – on-line noise, yet not to listen to it so much that we ignore our inner voice.

I would tend to take long time off looking at what others do save for few close friends. While it helps to hush it’s not the best defence. Even from just watching other people’s work we can learn a lot, if nothing else than just see what is possible. So cutting myself off of this opportunity is a loss in a way. I would love to know your thoughts on this if you can spare a minute.

printing from fresh

May 16, 2015

This was the first week I printed with fresh leaves. May is turning out very cold here so everything is growing rather slowly. I collected gorse flowers and leaves of wild rose and blackberries, they are still small and soft and when tightly bundled they stick to the fabric much more than mature leaves. It was easier to remove them after the silk was completely dry. The prints are charming, not just the shape but also variety of colours.

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dupion silk

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dupion silk

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eco printed

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plant dyed

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I printed other fabrics, will post photos later. All prints were much different to what I expected, especially  colours. It made me think about mark making and analogy with life. How we are bundled, sometimes tight and under a heat.. expecting, wishing to make a mark. Growing older, looking back,  seeing marks we have made. Considering the ones we wanted to make and haven’t, the ones we have and we didn’t want to or wished they were ‘a different’ colour… The visible, the invisible, the fading, the lasting. Temporary vs eternal…

spring prints

May 1, 2015

I still keep thinking  about Modrotlac/Blueprint, especially in relation to other resist techniques. I am intrigued by it’s origin and how and when it started to be practiced in Europe. I hope to do more reading when the time allows and write about the findings here. In the meantime…

I was in the middle of dyeing and printing – and then we left for Slovakia. So this is part of what I have been working on since the mid March.

I used restricted number of plants and dyes – the nature here is still just awakening. Rather than changing plants I used various mordants and dyed at different temperatures. There is still so much to explore. The colours are lighter and brighter which made me smile when I unbundled the first piece as I wasn’t planning for this. Well, I wasn’t really planning at all, I just had this ‘what if’ approach, made a sample and worked from there, changing one element of the process at a time.

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Silk chiffon, logwood and cochineal, rust

silk chiffon scarf

grey and orange silk chiffon scarf

 Silk chiffon, logwood and eucalyptus

summer cowl

Summer scarves and cowls in raw silk, printed with rose leaves, onion skins, cotinus and eucalyptus

summer silk cowl

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summer silk scarf

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summer cowl

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maple pouch

pouches in linen and cotton

pouch

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This and more is now available through a newly opened textile gallery on The Isle of Skye. Just when I thought of not making to sell anymore I got the invitation to sell there. The Gallery has been opened for less than couple of months and it has so far proved to be a good venue for my naturally dyed, printed and felted work.  I enjoy this new way of working very much. It enables me to focus much more on the creative side of the business while someone else takes care of selling.

 

blueprint / modrotlac

April 21, 2015

We spent spring holidays in Slovakia. Few days, esp. around Easter it felt more like Christmas. Persistent sleet turned into a solid snow and by morning the ground was well covered with a white blanket. Our girls had long wished to experience Slovakia in winter, but we avoid travelling abroad in winter so it was only now that their dream came true. Only decorated Easter eggs were a reminder that we were actually into another season.

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One of the many reasons I love going back is that I see my own culture with a fresh eye. The way we live, communicate, the pace of life, our values, traditions, our art and craft and what has influenced both over the time. This time, thanks to one lovely pillow in an ULUV shop it was Blueprint which caught my attention. It’s not new to me though. I still remember this type of fabric being sold in fabric shops and elderly ladies in some villages wearing skirts, aprons and scarves made from it from when I was little. Then, it disappeared for good few years with a closure of the last workshop producing it until few years ago when young generation started reviving the old technique and using it in a more contemporary way.

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blueprint on pleated skirt

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Blueprint or Modrotlac in Slovakian is a dye technique using a chemical resist and indigo. Cotton or linen is first printed with a paste resist with the help of carved wooden blocks and then dyed in indigo. Afterwards the paste is washed away and the cloth mangled for a high sheen finish.

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The resist, which is made of few chemicals and clay  creates strong contrasting patterns of (usually) white on a deep blue background.  Sometimes, yellow or other dye is added to the paste. Resist can be applied several times so that there is a variety of blues in the pattern.

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Each dyer would have it’s own refined recipe for creating the paste and would consider it a technological secret. In few regions blueprint was also achieved by shibori technique (mechanical resist) rather than using the paste. Usually women would tie the pattern into folded cloth before bringing it to a dyer.

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Resist techniques and indigo dyeing were known in Far East long before they arrived in a form of presents to European courts in 17th century. Some countries tried to ban it as it posed serious competition to the local textile producers. Dutch were the first to start producing blueprint fabrics and from the Netherlands the technique spread to Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Czechie. In the 19th century dyeing workshops were almost in every Slovakian town. The blue fabric was very popular – it meant that even ordinary people would have access to patterned and coloured clothes, unlike before when the only way to achieve pattern had been to  laboriously embroider white domestically woven fabrics. It also stained less.

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complex blueprint *

complex blueprint and embroidery

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Motives for wooden blocks were designed either by a dyer or a wood carver specialising in this fine craft. Often, new designs would be a result of customer’s suggestions or requirements. Later, metal nails and plates were used in combination with wood to create an even finer print. Inspiration for patterns often came from Slovakian embroidery but also from  patterns from imported fabrics. More complex designs were then a combination of individual patterns used previously. Customers from each region had their popular motives and some would add embroidery or ribbon and laces to embellish the fabric further.

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wooden printing block

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metal printing block

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metal and wooden printing block   *

 There are now several young textile designers reviving this old technique. You can see photos of one of them – Peter Trnka here and click for more traditional Blueprint patterns here here. Peter Trnka as well as another young designer Matej Rabada are on Facebook and you can see many interesting photos on their pages as well.

[I have taken the photos of the printed clothes in The Slovak National Museum in Martin, which also has the largest collection of wooden printing blocks, but only few on display for public]

details

March 25, 2015

I feel ‘the whole is still more important than a part’ in any patterned fabric, yet I can not resist and would like to show you today few details of fabrics I have just printed with plants.

linen cotton blend

eco print

ivy leaf, silk

print

 on cotton

rose print

 some very spooky faces on silk

faces

how many can you count?

faces

and some lovely abstract pattern & colour on silk

pattern

 

pattern

pattern

for Aoife

March 13, 2015

my imaginary muse

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aoife jewellery

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Aoife detail

windfall eucalyptus on linen viscose

I printed in 2012

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for Aoife

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Aoife is Gaelic form of the name of Eve. Other sources say it’s an Irish girl’s name.

 

Benalban / woman of Scotland

March 6, 2015

cotton & elastin, locally foraged leaves

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wrap skirt

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wrap skirt

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cotton skirt

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eco print

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