It's been so quiet here, and yet my life has felt so full. It happens to me sometimes, the need to go away and do things without documenting every moment for public consumption. But then I get excited about stuff and I want to share and well, I come back.
Yesterday was a good day. I set out with my husband just after my son went to school. We were in search of wild blackberries, which we found in plentiful supply, but first was the discovery of mulberry trees (and mulberries that begged to be picked), then photos to take and nature to enjoy. I snipped a few graceful, leafy sprigs to make sun prints with before the day turned cloudy. By early evening I had a new piece of artwork on my mantel (which is constantly changing) and blackberry cobbler in the oven. My kind of day.
I tend to have a wide variety of craft supplies on hand, not just because it's my profession, but because I want the freedom to be spontaneous, before the moment disappears. I had a few bottles of Inkodye sitting around, waiting for spring, and I also had a kit the kind people at Lumi sent last year. It was a classic kit with a new tool - the Inkocap Roller. That roller, it changes everything!
The hard rubber roller attaches directly to the bottle cap, with the Inkodye distributed out of a small hole in the cap. It eliminates waste and cuts my application time in half, at least. There's also very little cleanup, just removal of the roller cap and a quick rinse. If you're at all interested in using Inkodye, I can't recommend this little gadget enough. It'll allow you to make faster prints, making each session more productive. I thought it also helped me get more even coverage during application, which is helpful.
I was dissatisfied with some of my earlier botanical sun printing techniques, so I decided to shake it up a bit. I wanted a more moody, ephemeral feel, so instead of using pressed leaves or placing Plexiglass over my designs to weight them down, I focused on printing some areas sharply while allowing others to be less defined. I love the results of this process, more organic, less structured.
Yes, I should have taken a photo of the process, but it was breezy with the cloud cover starting to roll in, and there was a lot of moving around in search of light, so this is not the step-by-step tutorial you might have appreciated. But still, it's pretty simple and you can see some of my other tips on working with Inkodye here and here.
Basically, I applied the Inkodye (using the roller cap) onto a piece of white cotton muslin that I taped to a piece of smooth plywood (directly onto the wood, so use a scrap piece that you don't mind dyeing). Then I arranged my sprigs on the fabric, tacking down some of the leaves with short dressmaker pins with a flat head (longer pins are likely to cast a shadow beyond the leaf and then you'll see them in the final print). I used about 6 pins, concentrating mostly on the leaves around the edges so that I'd have some basic structure to the print. Those leaves print the sharpest, then gradually fade as the other leaves allow more light under them. After about 7-10 minutes exposure (since I was dealing with variable lighting), I washed the fabric until all the excess dye was removed, then let it air dry. To finish it off, I wrapped my fabric around a 16-x-20-inch canvas frame and stapled it to the back.
All in all, a super easy project. Oh, and before I forget, more good news! Lumi has finally released new colors. They were on hold, trying to work out some manufacturing issues. But the old colors are back, along with a couple of new ones, I think. I especially like the new black. It's less blue than the old version. In some light, you see a bit of a navy tone, with dusky lavender/purple tones in some of the shadowy areas. It's really beautiful. I liked the last black as well, but this version feels deeper and richer.
So fun! I have a million different things I want to print. Have I mentioned how much I love springtime?