I am pretty sure that we have no koala bears on the Isle of Arran, but we do have plenty of Eucalyptus trees. Clearly not a native species, they appear to grow very well on the island. The one in the picture is next to the path where I walk my dog every day, my neighbour has a pretty large eucalyptus tree that I can see from my window as I write this, and there are some very impressive examples in Brodick Castle gardens.
This project (supported by 'Creative Scotland') aims to explore the eco printing possibilities with the flora and fauna growing on the Isle of Arran, so although I have read lots about Australian printers getting fantastic prints from eucalyptus I had initially thought that I would not explore this species - but we have plenty and I wanted to know what all the fuss was about - so here goes!
It's easy to tell when you are near a eucalyptus as the aromatic smell is so strong - especially after strong winds when lots of leaves and bark can be found nearby. We have had plenty of windy weather of late so collecting leaves and bark has been pretty easy. I felt assured that by collecting windfall I was not depriving any hungry koalas that might have been foraging for these treasures!!
Back in my studio I prepared two packages for the dye pot: one with some leaves from the tree in the picture just at the top of the lane, and another with some bark that was strewn beneath one of the eucalyptus trees in Brodick Castle Garden.
Tightly rolled around some copper piping and tied up into their bundles I popped them in the pot for a two hour boil.
I was amazed at the strength of the red dye that the leaves produced ...and the reverse was just as vibrant as you can see from these two images. Ehat a fantastic red.
The results from the bark were also impressive - not quite a s vibrant but some clear shapes ...
I have some ideas developing of how the shapes from the bark might contribute to my final project piece based on Glenashdale (but you will have to follow this blog for a while yet to find out!!)