How to Understand Ecoprinting and using mordants

A Walk in the Woods-understanding Ecoprinting

Exploring Titanium Oxalate-the new kid on the block

If you enjoy the idea or art of ecoprinting, my first suggestion for a true understanding and appreciation of this art form is to take a Walk. There is simply no other way to embrace Ecoprinting without exploring the world of the plants you use, up close and personal. The outdoor world you thought you knew unveils little secrets that lead to a better understanding of the “hows and whys” of ecoprinting.  I’m not talking about being knowledgeable in  “name those plants”. I’m talking about getting up close and personal with the moods of your favorite trees and plants. It’s a world of getting to know the growth cycles from early spring to fall. The imprints that plants share with the artist vary from day to day, week to week..even the time of day! get to know your walking trail.

Carry something like your camera phone and notebook and if you select leaves, photograph them and note the date and time. Become your own eco scientist!  I can pretty much guarantee that you will not remember the details unless you record them 🙂

It is probably the artist in me that looks for visual harmony, details and patterns in even the smallest of plants. Look up, look down. There is something of note in your eco journal in both locations!

The additional benefits of your walk are numerous! Beyond the obvious exercise benefit, the subtle influence it has on your soul, your psyche and your mind offers a major calming influence in our lives. In a world of daily electronic bombardment embrace your time without it. I have several blog posts that spend time with traveling these roads. Take a look at them on my website and enjoy that journey with me!

What’s Happening and working with a mordant!

For centuries, dyers have known that natural dye colors are elusive on fabric unless the colors are “set” with a mordant. A “new kid on the block” is a mordant called Titanium Oxalate. And I’ll share my  experiments with you!
But first, let me share what is happening! Click on the highlighted links for images and details!

  • May 12– My solo  “Pop Up Shop” at Westside GIfts in Wake Forest.  Come see and shop with me from 10:00-3:00!
  • May 13–  Ecoprinting on Silk workshop at my Studio. 10:00-3:00. Understand the ecoprint experience with me!
  • May 19Pop up Shop Raleigh. Join me and other artists for this 12-5 event in Raleigh!
  • June 2Easy Dye Silk Scarves workshop at Westside Gifts in Wake Forest! 10-12. Leave with 2 scarves that YOU created in just 2 hours!

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Exploring Titanium Oxalate
It’s a big word huh? Well for those who may not know,  the word mordant is derived from Latin and means “to bite.” It is what “fixes” dye colors to whatever fabric you are using and its uses have been recorded back to ancient Chinese and Egyptian times! The two most popular mordants in ecoprinting have been alum (potassium aluminum sulfate) and iron. Titanium Oxalate has become the new star among dyers, yet it too has been around while. Doing some basic research, I found repetitive descriptions such as “These double salts may be applied to textiles and other substances without injury to the texture or material.” and “Titanium salts are now employed in both Europe and America as mordant and dye in the manufacture of leather goods, having proved of especial value for use on chrome tanned leathers” and “Titanium salts are currently extensively developed in replacement of chromium salts for environmentally friendly titanium-tanning techniques used as an alternative mordant for use with natural dyes.” That’s a lot of information (and only the start of it!)

To further confuse things, natural dye and ecoprint Facebook groups are full of conflicting information. Through my own experiments, what I know for sure is that when combined with the tannin in leaves when ecoprinting, titanium oxalate will produce a distinct range of oranges!


So in this photo, on the left is silk with an indigo and iron water blanket applied. On the right is a titanium oxalate and indigo blanket applied. The silk on the right is actually a bit greener than shown in this image. As an artist, it makes sense for yellow and blue to mix and create green., thus the abundance of green in the silk on right.

In the image below, I simply alternated dipping maple leaves and maple seed pods into an iron or Titanium Oxalate solution. Can you see the difference?


For me,  this “new kid on the block” is better in small doses. I love the control of dipping leaves where I can stagger the bold oranges in any manner that I like! That is what I did on the two examples below. For me, less is truly more 🙂

Be sure and follow me on Facebook I am most up to date there!

You can also find more information (and shop!) of course on my website and my blog for images and articles on what I am creating and how I do it!

Until next time!
Theresa

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