Experiments with mordants

So I’ve been boiling things up for a while now, and reading a lot, hi and trying out different things, but I’m not terribly methodical. Recently I read a blog post about using soy milk as a mordant on cotton fabric, so I figured I would give it a go. I mostly just dye fabrics as a by product, using them as a carrier for delicate papers like kozo, sometimes I get a good print on the fabric, other times not so much.

I decided to do a little experiment and I mordanted one batch of paper and fabrics in soy milk and one in alum. Then I bundled each with leaves from the same plants gathered at the same time, and steamed them in the same pot. I had a head of red cabbage going soft in the fridge, so I threw that in too. I didn’t use any iron or vinegar in with the bundles, as I wanted to see if I could get prints without them. I know I can get prints with them!!

So a pretty small and not terribly controlled experiment. I layered cotton, then sheets of kozo, then a sheet of watercolor paper, followed by a layer of cotton, leaves in between each layer of course. I used sumac, Japanese maple, and some random bush trimmings as I had just done some hedges in the garden. I steamed everything for a few hours.

The kozo printed pretty much the same in both bundles. The colors were a little more intense in the alum bundle and the edges of the leaves we’re more defined. On the water color paper the difference was striking. The milk mordant produced beautiful soft pastels, although I had a really hard time getting the leaves off the paper.

The alum mordant produced vivid greens and blues and much brighter pinks.

These are not great pictures but I think you can see the difference.

Results on the fabric were interesting too. On the alum fabric you can clearly see where the paper was, and it resulted in more intense prints.

But the milk mordant produced all over pastel colors, I can’t get a good picture but I can clearly see the leaf structure in pale greens against a soft pink and purple from the cabbage.

So a mixed bag, but worth repeating I think.

Okay back to the studio.

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