My Sun Printing Process
I start by applying sunlight activated dye on pieces organic cotton canvas. I then arrange either fresh or dried leaves, fronds, branches, whole plants, etc. on the fabric, often gathered from my own yard. I cover the piece with glass and set it out in the sun. The sunlight immediately starts to activate the dye. Once the desired color has been achieved (average of 10 minutes) I bring the piece back into the studio where I remove the glass and leaves to reveal the pattern. Each piece is then washed to remove any unactivated dye and dried. Each piece is a unique print, never to be exactly duplicated again.
To make my waxed canvas, I melt organic beeswax and work it into pieces of my hand dyed fabric. I have experimented with many variations on waxes and oils but have found that I prefer the the look and feel of pure beeswax.
Why waxed? While waxing does provide water resistence, it's more about the look, feel and wear of canvas that has been treated with waxed. Like leather, it can get a nice patina and grow richer with age. I absolutely love the look and feel of waxed canvas!
My Leather Printing Process
I'm not going to tell my you much here. I will say that I broke a craft press and then built and splintered a large wood press but now I believe I have a press that is going to last and allow me to grown as I explore new ideas for pressing real leaves and fronds into leather! What I will tell you is that for many pieces, I start with vegetable tanned leather that has been slightly dampened and then press real leaves and fronds into the leather for stunning results. Each piece is then hand dyed by me using water-based leather dyes.
Yep. Prints on fabric made from rusty metal. I know, insane! I soak organic cotton canvas in vinegar and then I either arrange metal piece on it or wrap the fabric around it. Depending on the temperature and humidity, I get prints within 24 hours and others take 2-3 weeks to get the desired effect. I have to watch it though, too much rust and my sewing machine's needle won't be able to pierce the fabric. The pieces are then soaked in salt water, washed and dried.
Here's my industrial Singer sewing machine that was manufactured in 1964. She's a straight stitch needle feed machine with no frills, not even reverse! Her name is Ernie-Lou after Ernie at C.H. Holderby Co. in Seattle, WA. Ernie helped me in 2003 when I only had $400 to spend and wanted an industrial machine to get my first maker business off the ground. He brought her up from the basement, spiffed her up and she has worked hard for me ever since!