Hello all! Today I'm going to share what I've learnt about eco-printing. Eco-printing is the process of wrapping up assorted plant matter around fabric and steaming or simmering it to extract a print. My British-made silk was sourced from Botanical Inks, and I chose the Habotai which I thought was most appropriate for lingerie.
First I mordanted my silk with alum (which I found a UK source for here) and I soaked another strip of silk with iron water to work as an iron blanket which should intensify and darken the colours in the print.
Next it was time to collect the various plant matter, and I did this by walking around the roadside with a massive metal bucket and some snippers. At the end of my expedition I had poppies, dandelions, elderberries, hollyhocks, Queen Anne's lace and hawthorn berries. I scattered these on my wet silk and placed the iron blanket on top. This was then rolled around a stick and tied tightly with string.
Then my bundle was simmered in a pot for 2 hours and let in the pot overnight. You can see how much darker it went overnight! The bottom image of the collage below is the bundle unrolled with all of the plant matter still on it.
Below are the results! The lighter strip of fabric on the top is the silk I'm going to use for my bra and the strip on the bottom is the iron blanket, and you can see how the iron in it has made the colours much darker. The prints weren't as defined as I had hoped for and the berries definitely provided most of the colour. The poppies left no trace at all. If you look closely at the left hand side of the top strip of fabric there's a beautiful amount of definition, and you can even see the imprints of the string. That was the portion of the silk that was on the outside of the bundle. I asked the Printing Botanicals facebook group what they thought of my results and the advice was to bundle tighter, to steam and not to simmer, and to look to leaves for crisper prints. It's sad that I don't have time to experiment further with eco-printing but now it's time to get on with making the bra! I'd love to come back to this technique in the future and really have fun with trying out different leaves and seeing how well they print.