Another experiment using in part a technique (creating mirror images) from Kathy Hays’ video eco print workshop. Instead of silk fabric, I’ve used a book of watercolour paper postcards whose blank faces have been awaiting activation for a couple of years.
I’m very pleased with the results. I can say that without risk of seeming vain, because all I did was to bring some materials together and subject them to extraneous forces (heat, water, steam, time). I pulled all the postcards from the book and to create mirror images, sorted them into pairs, placed one of the cards with its watercolour paper front facing upwards, arranged the leaves on it in pleasing manner, then placed the second card of the pair face side down on top of the first.
I did this with each pair of cards. Then sandwiched the lot between two square ceramic tiles. I made a parcel of the sandwich using tons of rubber bands to get as tight a contact as possible between leaves and paper.
I then clamped each side of the sandwich with large bulldog clips and boiled it in madder root dye. I would have used onions skins, but didn’t have any. One is always more likely to have a little bag of madder root dye powder to hand, than onion skins, isn’t one?
I could only just get the strange, wingéd-looking object into my dye pot and then, not flat. I could only just wedge it in at a tilt so I was doubtful of a good result. I did flip it over halfway through the two-hour boiling process.
Some of the leaves I used were from my autumn stash, frozen. The eucalyptus leaves were from a dried bouquet from my local florist. I’ve used red Acer palmatum (Japanese Maple) leaves salvaged from a park. And autumnal red Cotinus (smoke bush) stolen from a hedge overhanging a street. The householder was driving out of the garage and caught me red-handed. He beeped his horn at me. I snatched a few more and ran away, just like a naughty kid (of 65). I also used bright yellow plane tree leaves and where possible, included the leaves’ stalks, which in the printing process have been pressed into the paper creating a lovely embossed texture.
I’m not quite sure of all the reasons I so like these images. I like that they are delicate, fragile, have a kind of melancholic poesy. A mirror image is always an alternate through the looking-glass reality. In these, this is enhanced where a leaf has transferred its dye onto one page and in its mirror image, has resulted in a negative, resist image, with only its outlined edges as proof of its reality, otherwise it would be invisible.
It is as though mirrored, an object is drained of some of its reality.
And the image and its mirror together create a music, a dancing rhythm.
I like where disease in a leaf has transferred only in pocks and spots in its mirrored self, and all that that might mean.
It is also about twins and that often mysterious relationship.
I like where the madder has bled and the mystery of the watery blue. Where did that blue come from? And if I were to flip the twins from left and right to up and down, that again, creates another reality.
Comes to mind the expression As above, so below. From the website http://www.arkintime.com:
“When modern science extended the reach of its observation to the galaxies above and the microbes below, it made a surprising discovery: an atom proved strikingly similar to a solar system. Both … comprised … particles kept in orbit by the gravity of an energetic core. Modern technology had reiterated the wisdom of the ancients, who coined the very same discovery in the adage: As Above so Below.”