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I am out foraging again!

Since my last blog about my natural dying experiments I have been learning a lot about plant dyes and especially about lightfastness. In my quest to discover more I am about to embark on another project focusing this time on eco printing with the support of #CreativeScotland

The process involves creating prints from leaves, flowers, seed heads etc directly onto the felt. Throughout the project I will continue to make my own felt from local fleece and use plant materials grown on Arran so my final artwork will again be a piece of 'Pure Arran Art'.

As I have spoken to many groups and individuals about my natural dying project and using the samples that I created to illustrate my talks, I aim to create lots of samples of my experiments with eco dying to share with audiences, but I also aim over the next 12 months to create a unique piece of art using eco prints based on the patterns found in the Glenashdale forest. I have no idea what this will look like yet, but follow my blogs to find out how I progress!

I have started setting up my work station in my studio and have acquired a large aluminium pot to process the prints in.

This is the basis of my eco dying process as the aluminium from the pot will help to fasten the dyes to the felt base without the use of chemical / powdered mordants like alum. A much safer and more sustainable approach to dying with plants. This process is often called the '#dirtypot ' method as rusty items are added to the vinegar and water solution to adjust the colours extracted from the plants. Here is my rusty horseshoe starting off the dirty pot ... it all looks pretty clean to start but you can see how dirty the water looks just a few hours in!!

My first experiments were with the leaves of plants that grow in abundance in the hedgerows on the paths in the Glenashdale forest. My first is with rose leaves (without the rosehips for this first experiment)

As one of my very first experiments I was pretty happy with the depth of colour that I achieved (but I think I can do better!)

Next experiment: leaves from the brambles that dominate many hedgerows at this time of year. Again I was pleased with the depth of colour and the fact that the leaves are discernable, but I think I can do better with more practice.

Finally on this batch I tried some St Johns Wort, but there was no colour achieved from this plant, it has maybe attracted some colour from the dirty water which has created a muted outline but not a successful eco print. I knew that not all plants would print and so this is an early lesson learned!

So this is the start of my project that will run through the next 12 months. I will be experimenting with seasonal plant matter and collecting some autumn leaves to dry and use through the winter. Watch this space for my next dip in the dirty pot!!

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