Earlier this year, Prism had an exhibition at the Mall Galleries. I absolutely loved the work that Alice Fox was exhibiting and decided to study her as part of my City & Guilds Diploma in Patchwork & Quilting.
I was then fortunate enough to see Alice demonstrating in the Virtual Studio at Festival of Quilts. I asked Alice how she created her leaf prints and she explained she dipped the fabric in tea and steamed it, often with added 'found' metal objects.
In one of the books on natural dyeing, I had read that sumac creates a yellow dye. We have lots of sumac trees in our French garden and I thought I would give it a go.
Alice does not use a mordant but, as I don't have a steamer, I decided to use alum-soaked recycled sheeting. Next, I needed some metal - which is where the key to the cellar comes in ...
I wrapped leaves and key together in fabric and boiled them for about an hour in tea. The results were interesting but rather dark. So, for batch two, I separated the wrapped keys from the wrapped leaves and boiled again in tea. Batch three was without tea.
I now have a selection of small pieces of fabric ranging from mottled yellow (just sumac leaves) through to quite dark greyish brown where the keys were wrapped and cooked in tea.
How I turn the fabric pieces into a quilt will be covered in a future post. Meanwhile, I will probably get a thermofax screen made of a sumac leaf and start collecting walnut husks to make walnut ink to print with!
This fabric clearly shows the outline of the sumac leaves but the keys are just part of a dark grey stain mixed with the rusty nails ...
Here the keys are more clearly visible!
I did include one other piece of metal in the pot - a bird shape that had fallen off a Tree of Life ornament. This created a soft (and to my eye, beautiful) image: