Botanical / eco printing – behind the scenes

To start off I go foraging in the forest or on the riverbank close to where I live. During the winter storms old trees often get blown over which is a great opportunity for getting the top leaves I couldn’t reach before.

My walks give an abundance of leaves, grasses and flowers to choose from, I prefer to pick up windblown leaves, its also very experimental not knowing which plants will give colour, it also depends on the soil, the water in the area and whether the leaves get a lot of sun or not, the underneath of the leaf often give a better impression and colour than the top side. After some time you learn which ones work for you and after a lot of research too.

I sometimes feel like a witch brewing her potions of bark, leaves and berries and anything else plant-wise I can find. If I’m making a dye-bath with Eucalyptus the kitchen smells heavenly, but not always with other plants ….

After soaking the silk in a mordant and then a dye-bath, then leaving it to dry and cure, the fun part starts with the placing of the plants on the silk and bundling it tightly around a stick or dowel, steaming for approximately 2 hours, letting it cool overnight if you can wait, then the exciting part of unravelling the bundle to see what Nature has given you.

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chillilane living

chilli lane living - Hermanus South Africa the "Cradle of design" Textiles handprinted with natural plant dye for interiors, clothing and accessories. Slow stitching and homeware. Other art mediums with no rules, it just depends what happens that day ....