Big smiles from me today as I introduce you to Jeanne Handley McLaughlin. Jeanne is my very first First Friday artist and she has some beautiful images of eco printing on rice paper for everyone today as well as information for getting started.
A couple of years ago, I took an encaustic class with Judy Wise. We "rusted" muslin by spraying with vinegar and water. Some rusty bits were bundled up inside the fabric and it was left for a few days. You can try this and get some neat results. Leave it sit for a couple of weeks or more.
This process led me to fabric bundling with flowers (the no-heat method of dyeing cloth by leaving it outside for some time - India Flint's method) . I'm not a patient person so when I was introduced to the rice paper technique I was hooked. It is very fast!
Tear off a 30" piece of rice paper from the roll. I buy this brand from Amazon. (Some brands may not hold up as well, but experiment with what you have.)
A spray bottle with a 50/50 solution of vinegar to water.
A selection of plants and flowers.
Strands of steel wool, just a little bit! Iron is used to "sadden" or darken textiles dyed with plants. In this case, the more you use the sadder it gets.
String, Bulldog clips or wool yarn (The wool yarn will pick up some color, nice bonus!)
Lay out your paper on a flat surface and spray it with the vinegar/H2O solution.
Lay out various flowers and leaves on the paper.
Fold the paper width wise and then in thirds length wise.
Either tie it securely or use bulldog clips. You want a good contact between the plant materials and paper.
I usually put strands of steel wool in the bundles for nice little rusty lines.
Experiment with plants that you have around you. I recently learned that geranium flowers and their leaves work very well. Red cabbage gives you a great blue on your rice paper. Too many variables to list here. Google Native Plants in whatever state you are in. Look at the pictures of the results. I checked and recently found Staghorn Sumac. English Ivy works well, Queen Anne's Lace, Maple and Oak leaves and marigolds. There are many more.
I started out using a pot of water and a bamboo steamer. Steaming for an hour is sufficient. Now you can see why I like this better than the days and weeks method.
I purchased an electric roasting pan so i can have multiple bundles going at once. The bundles cool fairly quickly after you take them out of the steamer. If you are using the steel wool you might want to wear gloves or you will need to scrub your fingers a lot!
Lately I have been eco printing on fabric also but the rice paper is my favorite.
Warning: this is very addictive
Thanks Jeanne for sharing your process with us! My favorite book on dyeing is Wild Colour by Jenny Dean; most information by far. India Flint's Eco Dye is stunningly beautiful and loaded with information. Be forwarned: these books are technical and they are using fabrics. I'm applying the rules of dyeing cotton: plants, (rather than wool or silk: protein) since paper is made from plants.