Dress “Back To Nature” with Eco-Print!
Though I had been dyeing fabric for many years, I only recently found the art of ecoprint. In ecopriting the images are made by applying plant material (leaves, blossoms, stems, bark, etc.) directly to fabric, paper, leather, wood, or just about any substrate that will receive images or color.
Fabric is my favorite to print on because of the variety of textures, weights, and finishes. It is usually treated before dyeing with naturally occurring mineral salts and/or acids ( such as tannin, iron, copper, etc.) to encourage the color pigments in the plant material to bond with the fiber in a process known as mordanting. In addition to the printing process most of my pieces are also dyed with natural dyes from bark, roots, leaves, blossoms of various plants, either before or after the printing process. . Sometimes other substances, known as modifiers, will be applied to shift the color. Just by applying acid or alkaline, you can take a red hue to an orange or purple for example. The images and colors usually set by steaming or boiling.
It is difficult to make a bad ecoprint! Mother Nature can hold her own with the best pattern designers. No matter how random, or carefully, the materials are placed on the fabric it almost always looks very natural and beautiful.
With care, an ecoprinted fabric will usually hold color and image rather well, but is definitely more ethereal than synthetically produced images in my experience. If the print becomes faint, it just means it’s time to add another new layer of plant material to the fabric! The process of ecoprinting lends itself to recycling, reusing, and repurposing. Try it!