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Eco printing on paper with Elisabeth Viguie Culshaw
Over the past few months, more and more eco printing has been appearing in my social media feeds. Suddenly Instagram is full of leaf printed clothing and Pinterest and YouTube are crammed with eco print tutorials. It is a technique that seems to be having its moment and gradually I've found myself mulling over how it could fit into my art.
So last week I went into Glasgow to do the first of four evening classes on eco printing on paper with Elisabeth Viguie Culshaw.
I've known Elisabeth for almost 30 years - back when I was an art gallery curator at the Hunterian Art Gallery and she was primarily a stencil artist we both worked a lot with the Charles Rennie Mackintosh archive - but it is only recently that I have been taking workshops with her and have realised what an impressive teacher she is.
For Elisabeth is a serious artist - by which I do not mean that she isn't fun, for she is indeed great fun - but rather that she is very considered and methodical in her methods. She wants to know why things work or don't work, she sets up experiments, she makes proper notes and when she is happy with her process she teaches others.
It is a great privilege to learn from someone who devotes their lives to finding things out.
My interest - of course - is in finding out whether the plants that grow here in my garden and the wild land surrounding me will print.
So many teachers use the same small range of leaves that are known to give excellent predictable results every time, but that have little connection to place.
That just doesn't interest me artistically.
I get a thrill from baking all the magic of where I live into the things I make.
Elisabeth was happy to let me experiment with anything I wanted . . . . and so I arrived in Glasgow clutching a bag of leaves from my garden - willow herb, herb robert, sanguisorba, sweet cicely, apple, rose - just to give them a go.
We are still at the very beginning of the process - bundling up pre mordanted papers with various leaves, dyes and impregnated blankets - but I'm incredibly excited at how the leaves I took printed.
(three leaves of willow herb are in the centre with rose and apple to the lower right and herb robert and sweet Cicely to the left)
They aren't the same as the eucalyptus or cotinus leaves in colour but in terms of strength of print they are really promising - I was particularly delighted with the sanguisorba, as that is a plant that loves my garden and self seeds all over the paths.
If I can work up to printing from full stems . . . . capturing the curve and unfurling growth . . . well that is something to aim for.
(top left is the flower bud of sanguisorba)