Having just returned on Monday from Regina Sask, where Karin and i taught another 3 day spin on the Stitch Combo Extreme workshop, i thought i’d share some of the results and the thoughts that came with this experience.
The title of this post *could* be one of those old treasured almanac style chapbooks! Of the 10 participants, only the organizer had any experience with ecoprinting (my half of this workshop), so it was wonderful to teach people who had no preconceptions, no expectations, no airyfairyness and were all open to whatever happened. Pragmatic indeed, in deed, questions were logical and honest, note taking was detailed and precise, and the teacher held nothing back 🙂
We used local plant materials only: nothing from any flower shop was there. I myself had been tempted to bring silver dollar euc, being a floral designer in the “day job”, but with both a luggage space limit, and a desire to show and prove the results of geocentric flora, decided against it. Work with what you’ve got, because part of the eco-conscious mindset IS/SHOULD BE how much of the carbon footprint you are leaving. Yes, Karin and i flew there, so that counts against us if you’re a purist, (and i took the bus to and from the airport in Calgary!) but we kept that footprint small as possible with locally sourced materials. We do not, will not, should not fly all over the world and expect eucalyptus to be handy wherever we are, as beautiful and as predictable as the results are. Quite frankly, in MY opinion, euc has become rather boring; everyone uses it, most have to have it from a florist which means it’s more than likely imported, and because it is predictable, what are you really learning? I’m thankful the discovery was made and shared, but let’s adapt and move forward to what is around us.
AHEM. Lecture and politics over.
As suspected, certain plants being widespread over the Canadian Prairies, they give rather much the same ecoprinting results. (Saskatchewan, for those of you who are not familiar with Canadian geography, is Alberta’s right door neighbour.) And as i suspected, my nemesis tree, Acer negundo (Manitoba Maple is what we called it where i grew up), what i also call the “Weed Tree” due to its forceful nature, still does not print. So scratch it off the list–i made everyone throw it out. It’s not even useful as a resist leaf. No point in wasting time or energy.
What did work? Red (Osier) Dogwood, oak, maple, rose varieties, crane’s bill variants and geranium geranium types :), peony, lady’s mantle, russian sage. Most of these *are* garden plants. I would like someday to experiment more with “country” plants, native and indigenous, though the days of “pure native diversity” are probably over with seeds and roots spread readily by purpose or by accident. One can only be so geographically, ecologically, maker aware Politically Correct!
And OH MY, am i jealous! This group (Regina Stitchery Guild) has DEDICATED space at the Neil Balkwill Centre! There are also setups in other rooms for jewellers, photographers, and it also hosts the Art Gallery of Regina. The building has showcases everywhere, white wall gallery space, and an inner courtyard. Just wonderful!!!
Below is the common area for the “wet crafts”–if you look at the doorway there, you can see down the hallway to a closed door that is actually their space alone with library and archives space also.
The kitchen is shared with the painters studio (behind Karin in the photo below).
We “built” the pot as we went. I’ve seen photos from workshops where all the results were *immediately* dramatic–it just ain’t so. That “soup” that gives the flavour to the ecoprints has to be added to and is every time you add bundles. Ours started with tap water, alum and some rusty water–and transparency dictates that i let the participants know EXACTLY what is in the pot to begin with and what gets added to with each subsequent use. (I’ve heard of workshops where the teacher was somewhat secretive about the contents. HOW can you learn then to make your own outside of the workshop? Some i suspect had a bit of gin or vodka thrown in…..) As the pot gets used, there are natural pigments leaching from plant materials, tannins, minerals, the alum added, the rusty water for iron, bacteria, and no doubt some insect poop too 😉
Corally pink colour imparted to background by using commercially dyed silk dupion as the second layer:
Coleus, geranium species, russian sage below:
Lucky lucky–cotinus grows in Regina!!!!
Dependable rose leaves:
Below, from the first “rolling” photo above, look at the coleus imprint! We don’t know if it’s light or wash fast, but sometimes that’s the fun discovery part.
I myself got greener and “teal-ier” results from the red osier, below:
And a startling yellow from the local maple! Not sure which variety it was, i usually get only dark colours at home:
Interestingly enough with that yellow, one participant noted that her less expensive, lower thread count cotton worked better for that result than the higher priced, higher thread count cotton i gave her!
Pinks from a Prunus variety mixing into the osier :
The ubiquitous onion skin, combined with Amur maple and a squiggle of steel wool:
Onion skin does give predictable results, no matter where you are or what you do with it, but i am hesitant to use a lot of it due to its unpredictable fastness.
Below,, a little Body English to roll tightly 😉
We talked about mordants, when and where to use them, modifiers, adding natural dyes, deliberate design in layout, practicing Salvage Botany and responsible disposal of both plant materials and the pot itself (gawdz forbid i should ever throw mine out!).
Karin and i traded off time teaching our respective parts of the workshop so that as many bases were covered as possible! While bundles cooked, she led them through “abusing” their machines.( It was amusing that the lender of the machine didn’t quite understand WHY we would WANT to loosen the bobbin tension so much, as the machine would not “work properly” then……Karin educated him 🙂 )
We are both quite pleased with the response and the results from this class–all the participants were enthusiastic, involved and many are looking forward to continuing their explorations with both techniques taught. We had a delightful time: Regina is beautiful, the company was excellent and the memories will last a long time! Thanks to Leann for organizing this and bringing us in, and thanks to the Regina Stitchery Guild for hosting us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!