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Friday, September 16, 2011

Bang-Up Project

We have a new project in the works with my Appalachian Arts students...quilted leaf-pounding wallhangings. Cotton muslin was mordanted with alum and hung to dry overnight before being pressed.

A walk around campus yielded a variety of leaf specimens...wild grape, sycamore, dandelion, willow, walnut...some I knew would do well, but others were experiments. We layered a newspaper pad, white paper, muslin, leaves, and waxed paper (bottom to top).

And then the fun, and the noise, began. This was their favorite part. But, thirteen hammers going in one room needed frequent time outs. Or maybe I just needed them.
The waxed paper let them see where they needed to pound. It was also possible to see which parts of the leaf hadn't been hammered because as it is pounded the leaf sticks to the wax paper and changes color

Sometimes you just have to take a peak at what is going on in there. Wow, there really is a leaf print on the cloth!

When it is finished there are little bits of leaf left on the fabric. Not to worry, after it dries they flake right off. If patience and care is used a very clear image of the leaf is made. Past success with grape leaves was easily repeated.

Walnut is such a good dye plant we felt it was a good candidate for pounding. We weren't disappointed.

Some dye books include references for dandelion root. We discovered that the leaves work pretty well to. After the poundings cure for a few days we will rinse, dry and heat set them. They will become center panels for quilted wall hangings.
The next part of this project involves creating some shibori fabrics using walnut and indigo, and overdyeing some stash fabric as well to use for patchwork borders around the leaf pounded panels.

Some of the students have done very basic stitching before......

But, for most of them this is their first time with needle and thread. It all looks so simple, but even stitching can be illusive. It's good that running stitches are easily removed. And then you just try again until you get it right. Just like life.

And then all goes on hold for pep rallies and football Fridays......

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