Friday, August 12, 2016

PTA AUG. MEETING - INDIGO LEAF RUBBING

Do I have an interesting technique to share with you!!!  Our PTA (Professional Textile Artists) groups' activity generally consists of lunch, chatting, and occasionally making community quilts. Last year we adapted a different approach to our meetings which has brought some new direction to some gatherings.  Each member is responsible to plan a monthly meeting and this month Connie Brown led us on an exciting adventure. 
We met at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway and she organized everything....I mean every detail which was no small task.  We began by covering the tables with Glad Press'nSeal.  This was her clever invention that allowed our fabric to stay secure on the tables. Brilliant!!!
This is a Japanese Indigo plant that Connie grew.  She also brought a number of large buckets filled with indigo stems soaking in water for us to use.
Did I say she came prepared!?!  Oh my.....she presented a very informative  lesson. It included showing a stack of indigo leaf printed/rubbed fabric samples.
Each piece had been placed over an item that provided texture during the rubbings. The colors were surprisingly different. Connie explained that the variety of color derives from the growing conditions (soil/water/temperature).  The maturity of the plants' leaves also impacts the color.
The color depicted in these photos isn't very true due to the commercial lighting where we were working.  Best described, they ranged from traditional indigo blue, many shades blues & greens, and even grays. This one was rubbed over plastic lace place mats.
This piece was one of my favorites.  Connie used Dawn dish washing liquid (allowing it to dry) as a resist before rubbing the leaves over the fabric.  As the photo shows, it was a very beautiful gray.
I used a number of items to texturize my fabric.  One was this meshy looking thing and something that looked like a plastic needle point base. Both turned out to be the least successful ones.
Okay, down to business.  The leaves were stripped from the stems and placed on towels to dry.  They can't actually dry out, nor can they be wet.  A fine balance was required.
We donned our gloves, placed our preferred texture item on the Pressn'Seal and covered it with cotton cloth, making sure the cloth was stuck to the plastic wrap to prevent it from moving around too much. With a small handful of leaves, rolled into a ball, we began rubbing over the the cloth.  The harder the better as I learned later.
I used three different items for this part of my cloth.
By far this was my favorite one.....a plastic sink mat!
Once the entire section of fabric had been rubbed with the leaves, we rinsed them in plain water numerous times to get rid of the leaf debris.  Then each piece was rubbed and massaged with small soap slivers.  As it got very soapy I began to see color changes.
The next step was a good rinse in water untill it ran clear.  And....as you can see, a whole section of mine was now nearly blank. The areas that disappeared were where I began, clearly I didn't rub long or hard enough.  It's a learning process so that's okay.  Connie explained that once dried, those blank areas can be printed again. She actually layered several of her pieces using more than one item to create different and interesting textures.
Happily more than half of my cloth had great colorful designs.  This was such fun....a real treat!  I'm inspired and I hope you are too.

Check out these blogs for more inspiration:  Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, and Sarah's Whoop Whoop Friday.

13 comments:

Norma Schlager said...

Now that was something totally new to me. Thanks for the great pictures and directions. You had some very interesting results. My fiber art group did something similar a couple of years ago in that we had an instructional meeting once a month. Maybe it's time to do that again.

Gwyned Trefethen said...

Who knew? Makes me want to run out and buy and indigo plant or two. Thanks for sharing the details of this technique, Mary.

quiltedfabricart said...

What fun! I've heard of indigo of course but never saw it in action. And how brilliant is that press and seal idea? Thank you for sharing

Julierose said...

that cloth is lovely--I had never heard of doing this before either. What a great idea...hugs thanks for sharing Julierose

Linda M said...

Wow, that's new to me also. I've never even seen indigo plants around here, I may have to order one.

Angela said...

So fun!

Deb Thuman said...

So, where do I find seeds for an indigo plant? This looks so interesting and I'd love to try it.

Robbie said...

Now I'm going to have to check this out for Florida play time this winter! Never heard of using the plant leaves for something like this!! WOW!!

The Inside Stori said...

It's Mary here.....From what I understand, the stems of these plants are easy to root in water....but where to find plants?? Amazon.com has a few suppliers but only under the category of 'Chinese indigo'. I suggest inquiring at your local private garden center.....doubt the big box stores would carry or order them special for you. Good luck!!

MulticoloredPieces said...

Hi, Mary. Beautiful results! I will resist the urge to attempt this! best, nadia

Sarah Craig said...

How interesting! I hadn't heard of this before, and enjoyed your informative post! Whoop whoop!!

Amy Art Quilter & Fyber Cafe said...

Was your fabric pretreated/mordanted in any way? or just rubbed the leaves on as is.

The Inside Stori said...

Amy asked if the fabric was treated before rubbing with the leaves. No......though I have to imagine the results would be more successful and long lasting. Although I don't have access to the indigo leaves now, I plan on trying other leaves.....but will def. pretreat the cloth. I'll report my findings when I get at this......