Another experiment using a technique (creating mirror images) from Kathy Hays’ video eco print workshop. Instead of silk fabric, I’ve used a book of watercolour postcards I’ve had for a couple of years awaiting activation.
I’m very pleased with these. I can say that without risk of seeming vain, because all I did, I feel, is bring some materials together and subjected them to extraneous forces (heat, water, steam, time). I pulled all the postcards from the book and to create the mirror image, sorted them into pairs, placed the blank face of the card facing up, arranged the leaves in pleasing manner, then placed the second card of the pair blank side down on top of the first.
I did this with all five pairs of cards. Then sandwiched the lot between two square tiles. I parcelled 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 tile 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!)
I could only just get the strange, wingéd-looking object into my dye pot and 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 process.
The leaves I used were from my autumn stash, frozen. The eucalyptus prints were from a dried bouquet in a vase. I’ve used red Acer palmatum salvaged from a park, autumnal red Cotinus (smoke bush) stolen from a hedge overhanging the pavement. The householder was driving out and caught me red-handed (and not just from the leaves) and 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.
There is more to the technique, which I can’t reveal, of course. If you’re keen to try some eco printing, get Kathy’s course. It’s reasonably-priced and so far, for me, foolproof.
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.
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 mirror image, 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, opens up an altogether different 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.”