Saturday, September 30, 2017

Things I want to say

For the last three summers, I have been teaching botanical print in a combination of natural dyeing. In July 2015 in Portland Oregon I gave the first workshop where I presented these ideas for the first 
In 2015, these ideas and techniques were very innovative and my workshop was the first to teach this path.

These pictures show my early work from before I begun to explore the combination of botanical print and natural dyes.

I think it will be right to mention that on the same time two artists created a technique called "Medium Print". The Medium Print gave kind of the same look. Both techniques brought new and fresh colors into the scene of botanical print, both also dealt with creating backgrounds, but the techniques and material used were completely different. I used natural dyes like weld, logwood, madder, etc... While the Medium Print used synthetic commercial dyes. We also have developed different methods of doing. My work has always begun with mordanted and dyed fabric while the Medium Print used the carrier cloth (blanket) to dye the background and the leaves acted as a resist.

The year before my first class in Portland, was devoted to all kinds of experimentation with botanical print and natural dyeing. I was looking for a way to develop a new direction with the botanical print that I was already working and teaching for three years before. In those early years, I used methods such as printing with iron pipes, infusing leaves with iron water and iron blankets, etc... I've tried every possible way I knew to combine natural dyes into the process and eventually, after a lot of experiments, I found that the best results for this combination were with iron blanket. The iron blanket technique was revealed to me by Terriea Kwong when she came to visit me in Tel Aviv. At that time the iron blanket was a method used only on white fabrics. 
During this process and investigation, I've also found the ability of the leaves to discharge. It was a surprising discovery that could only be discovered while working with pre-dyed fabrics because there are nothing to discharge on white fabric.

These pictures shows my path to find the right method to combine natural dyes with eco print. These pieces are all made using iron pipes method and was dyed before or after the print.

These pictures are the first prints in which I discovered the ability of plants to discharge. Both made with iron pipes method.

These pictures are my first experiments of printing with iron blanket on a pre dyed fabrics. and the use of tannin in the work. 

And here I want to share a great frustration I had. Not even two days have passed since this unique and innovative workshop in Portland, and to my amazement, I found out that all my work and my achievements, all the inspiration I received from colleagues and all the results of my experiments were published on botanical print groups in FB as a simple formula. A kind of "cake recipe". A post that gives no credit and no minimal respect for the long way and the long process that has created and opened new horizons.

I will add now details about the method I taught in this particular workshop and the workshops that came after at the same year.
All fabrics were mordanted with alum and dyed with a chosen dye. The leaves were laid on the fabric and were covered with iron blanket. Another option was to dip the fabric in any kind of tannin solution and to continue the same way as described above. This option with the tannin gave a darker background around the leaves. Today, it might sounds obvious, but then it was a novelty in the field.
I've learned about the chemical reaction of tannin and iron in Michel Garcia video and the most from my natural-dyeing teacher Leentje Van Hengle that I also owe her most of my knowledge regarding mordants and dyes. 

These works were created by students in the mentioned workshop in Portland - July 2015. A class that its content was shared online days after the class was over and later has been copied and retaught by the organizer of the workshop herself.

Darcel Daigh

Eileen Scuba Coffey

Lisa Kan

Eileen Scuba Coffey

Beate Krieger

And now, I want to write about my present work. 
In the last year I have extended and developed this path and created a new visual language which I have been sharing with my students since late last summer. I can see it already begins to flow slowly into the net, again in a form of formula without any credit. I want to give some background about my latest development.

Sometime during winter 2016 I started to question the previous technique, especially the use of iron blanket with the dyes. I've already taught many classes with this method and with my formula that was shared online, there were already many people working with it. As time past something began to bother me more and more. Although the technique I taught brought depth and details, all other works I saw online based on this formula, looked like an empty stamps of leaves with no depth. With some exceptions of plants used such as Sumac or Ginkgo that can give a nice discharge on dyed fabric or Eucalyptus that gives a wonderful color that blends nicely with the color of the fabric. Walnut is a good example of a plant that can actually print itself without any help or support and there are some more. The rest look like silhouettes and ghosts leaves. 
In the beginning, I've tried to solved the "problem" by painting the leaves with natural dyes extracts. This brought back details inside many leaves and gave very colorful results but I had doubts regarding this path. It looks artificial in my opinion, even if it was done completely with natural ingredients.

Here are some examples:

Last summer, when I was teaching a class in Canada, I've had a student that made a wonderful mistake. We've used community buckets and somehow Norman Blanchard got confused between the bucket of iron and the bucket of tannin. The fabric accidentally was dipped in iron and the blanket in tannin. He did it the opposite way. 

At first, I took it as a mistake, but later on, I've found myself waking up in the middle of the night and it hit me. I've realized that this mistake is similar to a technique I've used to work with in my early days - dipping the fabric in iron water, placing leaves and then roll. The difference is that it's connected to the way I'm working now days.
Immediately I've started to investigate this mistake and to push this discovery a few steps forward. After a period of experimentation, I got a broader view of the possibilities this path can leads, and I've started to teach and experiment it with my students late last summer.
Besides developing it to a higher level, I've also added more layers to this basic technique by adding different dyes to it. Sometime mostly as post-dyeing. Today, I got to a point that this technique is solid, clear and has many possibilities. Of course I'm not saying that there is no way to continue developing it, there is always a way! 
I name this technique:

"3D Print with a Reverse Discharge"
Note: If you are going to try this technique and  produce work according to it which you are going to share on any social media or anywhere else in public, you should credit me! use this name to describe it. Use this #3DPrintRD hashtag and add link to my blog -
Thank you!

I would like to describe now the basics which is going to explain the 3D aspect, but I will keep the "reverse discharging" topic to my next post.

The work are being created in steps. The basic step will be to create a basic-print on white fabric. It is made when the fabric is being dipped in iron water, then the leaves are being placed on the fabric and everything is covered with a blanket that carries tannin. So a background around the leaves is being created when iron and tannin meet. Actually, it's the technique that is already known to many but in the opposite order. There is a lot to say about the importance of the background and the post-dyed print. But again, I will keep the details on this topics to my next posts.

Switching sides between iron and tannin brought details inside the leaves. You can get the impression of the veins and different textures inside the leaf. Leaves can be placed now on top of each other, and create a blend image and a 3D look.

These are examples of my own basics before being post-dyed:

And these are examples of basic-prints made by my students in the classes from late summer 2016 until now:
Susana Penaloza donoso

Lucia Higuchi

Eva Don

Wendy Hardman

Adriana Loyarte

Vivi Gauda

Marialil Escobar

I'm always using just the same three ingredients to print. Sometimes (but not always), I mordant my fabrics with alum and than tannin and iron. That's all! As an extra, to get more bright colors into the work, I use various natural dyes.
I never use discharge additives of any kind, all the discharge effects I get are from the leaves themselves, without using any other substance. I experiment with different arrangements of the same process with the same ingredients. It always surprises me how much you can get with just a few materials.

This simplicity was gained with a lot of work and experience. Only in this way we can simplify things into a precise formula that contains all the experience and hard work.
Vision and experimentation are the two important sides. I don't believe in the assumption that everything is just technical. Techniques are being created only if there is a vision. I acquired a lot of experience in identifying possibilities, mistakes, surprises and the way to investigate them further. Many times it requires Sisyphean consistency. My samples work are piling up very quickly in my studio. They are precious to me and they will never become scarves for sale. They documents my investigations, learning and development and always contains even more for later. I will never let them go.

The working side, well... Besides my experimentation in my own studio it also includes traveling around the world and teaching, which might looks very tempting to others, but in reality traveling so often is not an easy life at all. Teaching many people, helping them with their difficulties in understanding and/or with the making, is something that forces you even more to find simpler ways.

So, as I said in the beginning of this post, taking the entire scope of the work that I have just described, rolling it down into a formula and sharing it on social media, in a kind of copy-paste method that doesn't contains all of the mentioned above is a sin to the truth in my opinion.

I think there's a lot of chaos in the botanical print community and it's time to create a more respectful dialogue that brings recognition to the creators and their contribution to this field.
I'm not talking only about myself, there are other artists in this community that I think do not get the recognition they deserve.
But don't get me wrong, I have nothing against my students who teaches and shares what they've learned from me locally or between friends or if my methods are streaming to the internet and inspires or improves other people work.
But I do have a problem with people who are featuring on FB groups all of the content, techniques and ideas of my latest class they've just attended. Sharing my own words and explanations about my discoveries that they've heard from me in the class as their own. I think it is not fair!
You can think my ego is the one who speaks here, but I never teach what other teachers already teach. I always teach my own and I wonder about the ego of those who shares without acknowledging their teachers and what motivates them to "lock" their teachers in the basement. These teachers are artists who are the cutting edge of this field and the ones who are pushes it forward.

I'm getting inquiries from other teachers and artists that feels the same way. being "locked in the basement" by a former student. They are asking me how do I deal with this phenomena and I don't have any answers or solutions to give them.
That's why I'm writing this post. In behalf of those artists I call all botanical prints group admins to establish a more ethical and respectful dialogue in this community. Especially in the groups that you must share the technique you used.

Additionally, I'm calling all of the artists that feels that they're not getting the proper recognition for their contribution to unite together. Maybe together we will be able to create a more ethical codes and conventions in this field.

Above all, I would like to credit India Flint who have opened this wonderful path to me and to the entire world and without her work maybe none of this have been here. Our works became so different but she is still one of my favorite.

And finally, as it is Yom-Kipur today which in our culture it is a day of intersection and forgiveness. I would like to apologize for public incidents in which I burst out of control toward situations described earlier. Sometimes it makes you feel so helpless and its hurts and these kind of things happens and I regrant them.

* If you are my student and I use your work made in my class in this post please let me know so I can credit you under the picture.