The wonders of iron on the first day of Spring

On a visit to the Fremantle Arts Centre last Friday to see Unfolding: Contemporary Indian Textiles curated by Maggie Baxter, I parked on a side road.  The street trees were eucalypts and some branches had fallen quite some time ago.  The leaves were quite dry and brown.  In the pouring rain I dragged them to the car boot and stuffed them in! Unfortunately I don’t know their botanical names but there were two leaf sizes; long ones and small ones  ( scientific, eh?)

Last night I found my trusty spray bottle of “iron water”.  It’s a very old and, I suspect, quite concentrated solution of water and ferrous sulphate.  It is a dark orange.

Selecting some old pieces of cotton sheeting and a few pieces of silk, I sprayed each liberally with the iron water and laid my Fremantle Arts Centre leaves on them.  I bound each piece tightly with my increasingly beautiful over-dyed bandages, made of torn strips of old sheeting.  I then boiled all the bundles in water on the stove in my dyeing only stockpot for an hour or a bit more (wasn’t paying attention).

The bundles cooled in the liquid overnight and this afternoon I opened them up. I’ve washed them in the washing machine and ironed them dry.

Cotton sheeting , sprayed with iron water, simmered for at least an hour and bound with unknown species of eucalyptus leaves.

Cotton sheeting , sprayed with iron water, simmered for at least an hour and bound with unknown species of eucalyptus leaves.

Relatively open weave of 80% cotton; 20% silk fabric, sprayed with iron water and bound with unknown species of eucalyptus leaves leaves.

Relatively open weave of 80% cotton; 20% silk fabric, sprayed with iron water and bound with unknown species of eucalyptus leaves leaves.

Narrow silk scarf bound with the smaller of the two unknown species of eucalyptus leaves and sprayed with iron water before simmering in water for at least an hour. The colour is not good in this image. The scarf is actually a rich dark chocolate.

Narrow silk scarf bound with the smaller of the two unknown species of eucalyptus leaves and sprayed with iron water before simmering in water for at least an hour. The colour is not good in this image. The scarf is actually a rich dark chocolate.

Previously dyed bamboo sheeting scrap with a eucalyptus leaf added and iron spray.

Previously dyed bamboo sheeting scrap with a eucalyptus leaf added and iron spray.

I’m very pleased with these, although I’d like to find a way of getting good leaf imprints without the grey of the iron mordant.

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3 Responses to The wonders of iron on the first day of Spring

  1. Julie Devereux says:

    Great results Margaret. And it’s so much fun!

  2. liz arnold says:

    I like these very much Margaret.

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