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What is Nature Immersion?

And why is it important to You and your Ecoprinting?

I did something good for myself the other month :-). I became a certified practitioner of the art of forest relaxation and therapy known as “Shinrin Yoku” (which translates to “Forest Bathing.” ) It is the Japanese practice of ‘bathing’ oneself in nature with the intention of receiving therapeutic benefits. I prefer to call it “Nature Immersion”. If you have followed my blogs you know I am a big fan of getting outdoors, following dirt roads, exploring abandoned farms and walking trails and fields.

Anyone who has ever enjoyed the same thing or simply stopped a few minutes at a park or even their own backyards knows the enjoyment of those moments Most of us probably do not stop to think about or analyze the therapeutic benefit we are gathering from it. We just know that in those moments we are rejuvenated!

So Why is Nature Immersion important?

If you do a little research on Shinrin Yoku, you will find that in Japan the movement began as a way to use “Forest Bathing” to promote the health and psychological benefits of spending time in Nature. When I studied for my certification from Nature Connection Guide, this is what I learned:

Psychological benefits that nature has been shown to have

  • reduced stress and anxiety
  • restored mental energy
  • improved mood
  • improved concentration
  • improved short term memory
  • relief from PTSD.

Physiological benefits that nature has been shown to have

  • boosted immunity
  • increased energy and vitality
  • improved sleep
  • lowered blood pressure
  • reduce inflammation
  • lowered rate of obesity
  • improved development of vision and the
  • has an anticancer effect
  • has a positive effect on longevity
  • accelerated recovery from surgery and illness.

A magic formula? No. A stress reducer? Absolutely! And that it what started me on my journey to offer Nature Immersion and Ecoprint Retreats!

For those of us who enjoy ecoprinting, part of the initial appeal undoubtedly was selecting and collecting our own leaves and plants to creating something from Nature. And what could be simpler than using her leaves? Ecoprinting is a form of wildcrafting. We use what is available in Nature and create our artwork with it. Maybe we didn’t realize that our enjoyment comes from being outside. Whether it is 10 minutes or 2 hours, we are in a healthier environment. Our minds are preoccupied with one subject-leaves, trees, plants. We are stooping, bending, lifting and stacking and are enjoying every minute! We have a goal, an idea, a love of Nature and the final results of our wildcrafting!

My fiber work is a business. I have been a self employed artist for decades. I participate in shows, I teach workshops all around the country and in specialty venues. My work is in galleries and online. Slowly but surely I was in production mode-Fabric to paint or ecoprint, clothing to design and make, leather to buy, ecoprint and turn into a product, social media upkeep, additional artwork to create and bills to pay. It was easy to let my forays into the deep woods lapse.

Re-connecting my life long love of Nature through Shinrin Yoku was an eye opener. My training employed what I already knew and had experienced and took it to a whole new level. Now my forays into the woods are not hurriedly done or with a feeling of guilt (I should be doing this or that….) I go in routinely with a purpose to reconnect and rediscover that incredible feeling I got as a teen on snowy winter Saturdays, strapping on my skis and going solo through the birch forests and navigating stone walls in a glorious day of being in Nature with no distractions!

I teach workshops at my studio and my students collect their leaves from my trees, yard and pasture. But there is no denying that the basic goal in most workshops is to produce an ecoprinted work and go home! I wondered HOW to incorporate the whole ideology of what I feel is Nature and ecoprinting working in tandem? I wanted Wildcrafting at its finest.

Everything fell into place with my ideas when the perfect location to hold a Nature Immersion and Ecoprint RETREAT was offered to me! I cannot tell you how excited I am to share an affordable weekend retreat with like minded people and truly have them experience Ecoprinting with their 5 senses! Unlike most workshops with an emphasis on “intensive” our focus is on “Unplug. Slow down. Connect. Ecoprint.” Every leaf you use, you will know! You will have met the trees that gifted the leaves to you, walked through their environment, felt their presence and allowed yourself a weekend experience immersed fully in the real meaning of being one with Nature!

The retreat Lodge in Summer

I reserved two weekends and reservations have already started for the April 3-5, 2020 weekend! The second weekend is May 29-31, 2020 (the weekend after Memorial Day). The beautiful lodge is located in the middle of 47 acres of woodland and here I will guide you through a session of Shinrin Yoku. It will change your perception of Nature and enhance your ecoprinting in a way you did not realize was possible!

The 3 day, 2 night retreat is all inclusive and is just $395.00 per person! Follow the link for additional descriptions, photos and information of a Nature Immersion and Ecoprint Retreat!

overlooking spirit pond

Leather and watercolor paper-beginning an ecoprinting journey

The Silk Thread

Leather and Paper Ecoprinting-Understanding the basics


Hi all!
As an all around silk artist who works not just in plants but in dyes (natural and synthetic), block printing and hand painting, in this newsletter I’m back to Ecoprinting and touching on two areas I’ve been asked about-Leather and Paper!

Leather. Who doesn’t love the touch, the smell and feel of leather? It is everywhere as hand bags, garments, horse tack, books, shoes, upholstery and so many more uses!  We all know that the history and use of leather obviously goes back to the cave dwellers. At some point in those very early days, someone figured out how to use the hides from the animals that fed them. So Leather would have been used for the first of everything for survival-clothes, tents, shoes. Today, without the survival factor, leather has gone from a necessity to more of a luxury. Leather upholstery, clothing, shoes and hats are just the tip of the product mountain. Add horse tack from harnesses to saddles and even leather walls in offices and you can see it is here to stay.

 
Natural leather                                                                       Dyed leathers

When thinking about working with leather in ecoprinting, it is important to first clear your mind of any previous techniques! If you realize a few things, your journey will be easier :-). Leather is not fabric. (You need to re-think what you know!)  Leather is a big industry.-there is a LOT to learn but just like any other skill, it becomes easier!
Like the silk and wool industries, there are dozens and dozens of types of leather. Basically hides are measured and graded by different weights, different textures and go through a series of splitting, shaving, dyeing, embossing, etc to produce the characteristics of the different leathers we see in every day use. I thought I knew a lot about leathers having been in the horse world for many years. I discovered I only knew a lot about one type of leather! So to further condense, hides come from all kinds of animals but the majority of leather is from cows, sheep, pigs and goats. Each hide goes through the same type of leather grades: Top grain, Full grain, Split Leather and Bonded Leather.  I cannot emphasize enough that successful ecoprinting on leather means educating yourself and experimenting on all of these grades! I personally, so far, like to use thin cow and goat leather. In ecoprinting, leather is handled differently than silk or wool. I have ruined a few hides along the way figuring that out! A few hints: Leather stretches, previously dyed leathers will bleed and a constant heat and pressure must be maintained to get the best prints and by golly, leather is not inexpensive! I am still experimenting with various weights, types of hides and ways to create from the hides!



Examples of Ecoprinted leather

Leather is also gauged by ounces ranging from 1-10 or so per square foot. That is not the “weight”, it is the thickness of the leather. It is easier for a layman to understand that a standard sewing machine will usually not make it through a 4 oz (1/16″) piece of leather very easily! To understand the complex world of leather, a good site designed for beginners is the Tandy Leather Company.

PAPER
Like leather, most papers must be handled differently than silk or wool. Those are protein fibers. The best papers to work in ecoprinting are watercolor papers which are made from cellulose fibers with cotton being the predominant .It is naturally PH neutral which adds to longevity :-). If the paper is not marked 100% cotton, it will have wood pulp that can yellow over age.
My husband and I have years of experience in watercolor painting so we had ample paper to choose from when I experimented :-).


A collage of ecoprinted paper

For many beginners, buying a watercolor sketch pad is an economical way to go.Be careful of the fiber content however.  As in leather, you will see weights and like leather, the art supply industry is big business, and confusing! Next comes the Hot Pressed vs the Cold pressed. With a nod to “The Artist’s Network” for a nicely condensed chart! It IS related to painting but you can adjust that to ecoprint in a number of areas!  As far as the terms hot press, cold press and rough, artists learn that in regards to absorbancy, hot pressed is like comparing a baby’s cotton diaper in hot press to a cotton dishcloth in cold press. Rough, for me, is like burlap lol.

Hot Pressed watercolor paper (very compressed fibers)

  • Very little pigment penetrates beyond sitting on the surface.
  • Hot pressed is not adequate for general watercolor painting.
  • It’s suitable for fine detail, such as pen and ink.
  • This type of paper works well with gouache.
  • Wet-on-wet application with diffusion will not work.
  • Glazing will lift the underlayer.

Cold Pressed Watercolor Paper (semi- compressed fibers)

  • Some pigment penetrates deeper into the fibers.
  • A painting on this type of paper ends up with a nice velvety look.
  • Diffused wet-into-wet application can be achieved on cold pressed, but there’s a risk of losing the forms from excessive pigment bleeding. The artist working with this paper must be quite skilled at controlling the degree of fugitive paint.
  • It works well for scraping out rocks with a credit card when painting landscapes.
  • Cold pressed is not optimal for glazing because the new layer tends to disturb the first layer.

Rough Watercolor Paper (loosely compressed)

  • The pigment seeps even deeper into the fibers of rough paper.
  • The wet-into-wet application works well on this type of surface.
  • Glazing works better because the paper grips the first layer quite well.

So the next thing you will encounter is weights.Artist run into a problem with watercolor paper curling and buckling unless it is fastened down somehow. I know my artist husband routinely takes hot press watercolor paper, soaks it, then stretches the wet paper on canvas stretcher bars to paint on. It dries tight as a drum and the painting, when completed, is cut from the frame-no bucking or edge curling!

Watercolor paper sells in 22- by 30-inch sheets, which you can cut into various sizes and that makes it ideal for ecoprinting.

  • 90 lb. the flimsiest weight. Most computer paper is 20 lbs.
  • 140 lb. must be stretched to avoid buckling. I use this.
  • 300 lb. does not require stretching but is more expensive. Large pieces will still  when wet-again fine for ecoprinting.Very Absorbent

The common mordant in paper printing is alum. Leather has natural tannins and can be worked without mordants.

The key to ALL ecoprinting with leather and paper is experimentation. Nothing works if you do not try it 🙂

So what can you make with ecoprinted Leather and Paper? The easiest first projects are journals. Once you learn to handle the tools, the sky is the limit :-). Leather covered journals filled with blank or alternating with ecoprinted papers is beautiful. And of course the papers are beautiful when a small detailed or colorful print is framed and displayed as an art piece!

   
My ecoprinted leather pocketbook                                                           Shoes! Working on boots now!


leather art journals                                              Creating a watercolor paper journal

            
Watercolor paper journals

      
Leather art Journal                                                           A few of the tools for working with Leather

What’s Happening WORKSHOPS

  • August 25, 2018 ECOPRINT on SILK Workshop: This is my popular, 1 day, 10:00am-3:00pm workshop and the last one this year. A relaxed ecoprinting workshop that is perfect for everyone. Beginner to advanced. Advanced ecoprinters learn new techniques or tips that will delight them 🙂 Supplies included-You’ll leave with two 8″ x 72″ silk scarves. Complete info and online registration: http://thesilkthread.com/workshops/eco-printing-on-silk/ 

 

  • Sept 21-23, 2018- Ecoprint on Leather and Paper. For those who would like to pursue ecoprinting on leather and paper, this 3 day workshop Sept  at my North Carolina Studio will launch you into a new way to look at ecoprinting!  There will be links to the supplies you will need to purchase beforehand-the same supplies are used with both leather and the watercolor paper. You will be creating leather and watercolor art journals and will leave with 2 art journals and enough ecoprinted hide to make your own project at home http://thesilkthread.com/workshops/eco-print-on-leather/   Complete details on my website! My only Leather workshop for 2018.

  • Jan 30-Feb 2, 2019- ECOPRINTING on LEATHER and PAPER: a 4 day comprehensive workshop at AYA Fiber Studio in Stuart, Florida!  A good way to escape the winter’s chill and attend a waterfront workshop 🙂 Similar to my 3 day workshop but with the additional time to  learn and create more project techniques with leather: https://www.ayafiberstudio.com/eco-print-ii/5-da

What’s Happening-SHOWS
Fall is crazy. It is my “show” season and as a self employed artist, it is my busiest time for selling what I create all year!

  • August 17-19, 2018 Michigan Fiber Fest –   I will also be teaching an “Easy Dye Silk Scarves” Workshop on Sunday! Even actually begins Aug 15 but vendors arrive for 3 days. More on my Facebook Event page  https://www.facebook.com/events/425737664565032/
  • Sept 15-16, 2018-Centerfest Art Festival-   A long established juried art show in Durham, NC. A big outdoor weekend event with hundreds of artists! Details on my Facebook event page  https://www.facebook.com/events/1275645812566815/
  • Sep 29-30, 2018 Shenandoah Valley Fiber Fest   Berryville, VA. An outdoor festival at the Clark Co fairgrounds. I will be teaching 2 “Easy Dye Silk Scarves” classes each morning. Hubby will my my booth 🙂 Additional details on my Facebook Event page https://www.facebook.com/events/861651124018676/
  • October 11-21, 2018- Village of Yesteryear at North Carolina State Fair, Raleigh NC The annual NC State Fair-a family event and both hubby and I are craftspeople in the Village of Yesteryear. Read all about it on my Facebook event page https://www.facebook.com/events/264008367710014/
  • October 26-28, 2018  -Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair  Fletcher, NC . A big fun fiber event with over a 100 vendors and workshops! Yes I’ll be doing my “Easy Dye” silk scarves workshop Sunday morning. More info on my Facebook event page! https://www.facebook.com/events/270170070417585/

That’s enough for now-hopefully I will get up my Fall newsletter and the Nov Dec updates 🙂


Be sure and follow me on Facebook I am most up to date there! https://www.facebook.com/thesilkthreadart
Want to join my Facebook Group? It is not so much a techniques group on ecoprinting as much as it is an inspirational group! It is what inspires us to create, not compete 🙂 https://www.facebook.com/groups/personaljourneysintoecoprinting
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.

Learn something new today!
Until next time!
Theresa

Expanding the Abstract world in painting

October is already here and I am gearing up for some unusual shows!

October 16-26 is the annual NC State Fair where hundreds of thousands of fair goers will have the opportunity to come see me at the Village of Yesteryear and watch me create designs on scarves! I still have to sew my “Colonial Costume” but…I’ll get to it!

The SILK portion of my website has expanded in advance of the show and although I will have everything I have available at the event, if you are unable to come by then of course, see my Etsy store!  I have added new ties, new suncatchers….oh so many things  to photograph to catch up!

Long hours each day 10-10!

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Green and Gold silk/satin scarf
Green and Gold silk/satin scarf

 

 

Beautiful original silk art
Beautiful original silk art

Beautiful hand painted portraits of all subjects on silk!
Beautiful hand painted portraits of all subjects on silk!

Galloping Abstracts in Vivid Colors!

The summer has seen me head in a slightly different direction with my horses and abstracts! The brilliance of acryl gouache and ronan paints has offered a color choice that I love! Many are available in my Etsy shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/onroadartists

 

"Three Muses"  Acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas 18" x 24"
“Three Muses” Acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas 18″ x 24″

"The Night Ride" Acrylic and gouache on gallery wrapped 24" x 48" canvas
“The Night Ride” Acrylic and gouache on gallery wrapped 24″ x 48″ canvas

"Three Grays"  Acrylic and gouache on gallery wrapped canvas 24" x 48"
“Three Grays” Acrylic and gouache on gallery wrapped canvas 24″ x 48″