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 
time. 
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 - https://goo.gl/w1K3HP
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.



50 comments:

  1. Irit, this post is tuching. I know how much devoted you are to your students, I saw how hard you work before, during and after your classes. I sew the beautiful work results of the students and the smiles and satisfaction during the workshop you held in Germany in which i was participated. I learned so much in one workshop with you and created beautiful works that I never did before.
    You are a master and I hope I'll have a chance to learn with you again.
    Thank you for sharing all the above information. It's very generous of you.
    Your works are all fascinating and the latest are astonishing !
    Have a happy and satisfying new year.
    Rachel

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    1. Thank you Rachel for your warm words. Shana Tova gam lach

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  2. Irit, You have said it just right. I love it and support you!

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  3. You came forward with your heartfelt self, and turned it all around, good work and thanks for your courage...younare a great teacher in many ways..

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    1. Thank you Cedar for taking the time to read

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  4. אירית העבודות שלך מהממות, והתהליך נשמע מרתק ומלא הפתעות. אני לגמרי מבינה את הכאב ואת ההרגשה המאד לא נוחה .כאשר אין כבוד לגילוי הראשוני ולפיתוח הטכניקה. מתן קרדיט למורה נראה בעיני בסיסי. אני מרגישה שחשוב שכתבת את זה. כל הכבוד! באופן אישי ומבחינת הטעם - אני אוהבת את העבודות הראשונות הכי. הגדילנים פשוט מטריפים. ואני גם זוכרת משהו שעשית עם פריחת הקנה שהיה עוצר נשימה. זה תענוג לעקוב אחרי ההתפתחות של העבודות, אחרי החקירה והגילוי שלך. המון המון בהצלחה.

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    1. תודה רבה יונית וזה עוד יותר נעים וחשוב לקבל תמיכה מהבית. שנה טובה! אולי ניפגש פעם....

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  5. Bowing to you, Irit... I am so glad you clarified your thoughts and put this out into the world... the field has needed this leadership. In my previous field, in the sciences, we were all proud of our lineage... we had, sort of, scientific-thinking-families that impacted how we approached science. I am so grateful for your generosity with all you have learned through your careful efforts and experimentation. I am honored to have been a student of yours & count you in my fiber arts lineage. Warmly, Sarah T.

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    1. Thank you Sarah and I enjoyed to have you as my student. Such a tenant you are!

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  6. Amazing post, Irit. Your openness for sharing your knowledge of your art as well as sharing your heart are tip top.
    I have full respect for you.

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  7. Said very well. There are many artist who dont get credit in the botanical field.There are many who do not teach, or have a big name who are forgotten.There are many botanical printers who know nothing of dyes or fabrics and just copy and repeat.Thank you for your discovery and contribution to this art.This came from your heart so it speaks truth.

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  9. Very well said and I am glad you made this statement...something we (a group of some U.S. students you had this summer) talked about with you. Courageous of you to speak out! I know this has happened to artists in other genres too...with no credit being given when a student becomes a teacher of their teacher's work...shameful. I loved my class with Yu ou and will never forget who I learned from. Sara W.

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    1. Thank you Sara. It was a pleasure to had you as a student.

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  10. Irit I have not yet had the chance to study under you but want to assure you that my teacher Justine Aldersey-Williams introduced you to us right beside India Flint. You are a famous icon in this field and I have 2 separate files on Pinterest, one for you and one for India where I save your works whenever I run across them. The other files contain "dye fashion", "eco-print ideas", "dye sources", etc. but you two are recognized, stand apart, and are highly regarded by all of us. Thank you for your generous giving in your post. People can copy your technique but your artistry shines above. Best wishes and God be with you. Jane Ryan, The Thinking Reed, South Shore, Long Island, New York janeann3797@yahoo.com

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  11. I have started practicing this craft only quite recently and find it quite mesmerising. I started by reading everything I could find and then eventually enrolled in an online class (2 actually) with Nicola Brown. I live in the UK on the south west coast where there is very limited opportunities to attend classes without travelling for hours. I have since become aware of your wonderful work and it would be a dream come true to attend one of your classes. Thank you for this post written from your heart in such a controlled and refined way. I am a textile artist/quilter and I am constantly conveying to people the need to be individual with their work and if they do use someone else's methods to give them credit for it. It is a poor indictment of this world we live in at present that respect for others and the work they do seems to have been forgotten in the search to enhance and enlarge their own ego. In fact it is quite sad.
    You have a beautiful soul and your work is extraordinary.

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    1. Thank you Lizzie! Hope we meet one day.

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  12. Dear Irit, it is so amazing, that you could write straight to Yom-Kippur this so revealling post. It shows how important your work as an artist is! I'm so glad, that I've met you years before and hope to see you again in 2018 - you are a wonderful woman, a great teacher and an amazing artist! Thanks Konni

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    1. Thank you Konni! where did me we meet?

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  13. I so empathise with all you say and absolutely support your opinion about artists passing information without crediting the source

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  14. Dear Irit, I am so in awe of you as an artist and as a person. It takes someone very special and strong to say all that you have said and with such class. You are a great inspiration. I am looking forward to meeting you next year in Florida. You are extraordinary. Brava!

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    1. Thank you! It took me a while to be able to say it. Glad I jumped into the water finally and made this statement.

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    2. Thank you for you hard work and generosity. I would like to try to go to the Florida workshop. Can you tell me where I can find out about registration? Thank you

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  15. Thank you so much for your very thoughtful and generous and beautiful blog

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  16. Dear Irit,
    I am very new to this community of ecoprint and admire the sublime prints you create, your research work,experiments and most of all your generosity in sharing your techniques. I understand totally what you are saying and can imagine all you are feeling. It's difficult to ignore and deal with what others are making with your work.Sadly, this is the expression of human weaknesses. I encourage you to focus on what drives you most and gives you joy, your wonderful artistic creations. Keep making these "champagne bubbles" popping!

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  17. Todo mi respeto para el arduo trabajo de un artista. Es un ejemplo a seguir!

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  18. Irit, a well said article and you deserve the pioneer in the field. Your works are amazing piece by piece, year by year. You're ever my mentor. Your generous sharing some of your valuable techniques here surely inspires us all. Well see the huge experiments, effort and time you've devoted. Looking forward to another chance of learning from you.

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    1. Thank you Terriea. Looking forward to spend time together again.

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  19. Well said Irit. Art is personal. It's a piece of yourself, the creator, and to take credit for the work of others is an unconscionable act of thievery.
    Stephaney Thomas

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  20. Very well said. As a teacher I am particularly irritated by people who come to a workshop and then set themselves up an as expert the very next week. It is a perennial problem that if you teach and put it out there then some will want to take it for their own. I do not see you in the basement. It takes years of practice and development to get to the stage where you can deliver a truly meaningful experience and that is why people seek to do workshops with you and not the pale imitations. Ignore them and do what you do. I look forward to your next wonderful discovery.

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  21. Thank you, Irit!
    How smart to publish this before any more idiots muck it up. Your workshop was very good and I hope to take another with you.
    You are my heroine!
    Connie Forneris from Whidbey Island 2017

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    1. Thank you Connie From Whidbey. Happy to meet you here.

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  22. Complimenti per il tuo blog aplrovo tutto cio che dici con l'era dei social networking nessuno è più "padrone di ciò che fa" tuttisiimpossessano delle tue idee dicendo che sono le loro! Tu sei molto generosa nel cedere la tua esperienza come in Italia Laura Dell'erba che io seguo,ma spesso gli studenti non vi rendono merito ! Spero un giorno di conoscerti

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  23. Hello,Bellissimo il tuo blog dici delle grandi verità spesso il vostro lavoro di scoperta non è riconosciuto come tale soprattutto dai vostri allievi , non vi rendono il vostro merito anni di studi e di prove ,i social networking non aiutano, spesso dopo un corso sono tutti maestri,mi ricordo che al primo corso che ho fatto.. quando ho srotolato il mio primo rotolo mi scendevano le lacrime. in Italia io seguo Laura Dell' erba la mia maestra E lei come te sottolinea sempre che l'ecoprint è una tecnica naturale purtroppo ultimamente viene mischiata la chimica io nel mio piccolo cerco di scriverlo sempre nei blog che leggo che la tintura è ecoprint se è naturale.
    Grazie spero di conoscerti presto.

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  24. Irit, thank you for sharing your thoughts, your creative journey, and info about your latest technique - gorgeous results! Well said. I took your class on Whidbey Island last summer on combining natural dyes with eco printing and learned so much. I'm still integrating what I learned into my own work, and "branching out" to dyeing with my local plants. I've also experimented a bit with reversing the iron and tannin dips, since the iron blankets are the ones that end up with the nice vein details... I hope to take another class with you sometime. And yes I agree that it's important to credit artists like you who put so much time, research and creative energy into developing new techniques that the rest of us benefit from. Sometimes people just need a reminder (The #3DPrintRD hashtag is a great idea.)

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    1. Thank you Diane, your hard work is proving itself and it looks wonderful. Hope we see each other again.

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