Planning and Testing An Eco-printing Workshop for the Autumn
I’ve spent the summer planning and testing an eco-printing workshop for the autumn. I’m now ready to tell you about it.
A couple of years ago two textile artists, one Irish and one Swedish, popped up in my newsfeed on FaceBook, Nicola Brown from Clasheen in Co. Kilkenny and Lotta Helleberg based in the USA. Their gorgeous work, using plants natural dyes to print on fabric was what initially sparked my interest in eco-printing. I have been using plants to print with, using monotype and collagraphs, in my own work. In eco-printing, what I loved was the organic colours; the wrapping of leaves and flowers in fabric; the alchemy of steam and boiling with natural mordants to coax plant chlorophyll out onto fabric to create something lovely. I began to do some research – disappearing down a rabbit hole as one does (when on Pinterest especially) – trying to find out how eco-printing works on paper.
Then I met Lena Archbold at a Durham Creatives event. Lena was wearing a gorgeous nuno-felted silk scarf that turned out to be her own creation. We connected on Face Book and a little while later I noticed she was in Holland on an eco-printing masterclass course. When Lena announced she would then be running eco-printing workshops of her own, that encompassed not only printing onto fabric, but also onto paper, I knew I had to sign up. I was just as interested in the practicalities as the creative process; what equipment was necessary; what investment did one have to consider; what were the health and safety considerations, before I embarked on any workshops of my own. I went along with my friend, Michelle Kinniment, (a textile artist with whom I will also be running another workshop on the autumn – more of that in a different blog post).
Lena certainly ran a good workshop, very thorough and very generous in sharing her knowledge. I then went away to try it out for myself in the studio. My focus was specifically on how eco-printing might work with traditional printmaking media. I started by focusing on monotype to create backgrounds using a variety of reductive techniques and transparency of ink. I tried printing monotype backgrounds both before and after the eco-printing process. I can see lots of other possibilities; printing in layers; inking up plants to over-print/under-print with; introducing collagraphs to the process as well. I’m still trying to work out how I can incorporate the process into my own work, given that size of steamer is a slight restriction, but I have some ideas on how to address that.
In the meantime I believe there is plenty here to form the basis of a great autumn workshop for anyone who enjoys experimenting.
Autumn is the perfect time to run such a workshop as the leaves start to turn in colour and fall from the trees and hedgerows near the studio.
I’ll tell you about the other workshop I’m planning in the next post. In the meantime here are some photos to whet your appetite.