Over the last few months I have spent time re-thinking my Hollyhock project. Previous drawing, stitching and printing of the flower and it’s shadow, created images on naturally dyed wool flannel. All very therapeutic and enjoyable but never really capturing the fragile and transitory nature of the shadow which was after all my original inspiration.
After much thought, I decided to return to cyanotype, a method of printing images from shadows, and abandoning the heavy wool flannel I replaced it with fine and translucent cotton organdie. The work began. I took multiple photographs of plant shadows, experimented with transparencies, investigated wet cyanotype and used Paint Shop Pro (a bit like photoshop) to manipulate high contrast images of shadows. Finally I was beginning to get somewhere and answer my own questions.
The image below shows my set of A3 image which I converted into digital negatives and used to create cyanotype prints on cotton organdie. The next image shows my initial print of the middle bloom.
I had read about changing the colour of the cyanotype print by bleaching it with soda ash and then colouring it with natural dyes like tea and coffee. Further experiments ensued. I found out that Green Tea produces a pinky tinge to the bleached prints which I really like because it reflects the colour of the original flower.
Suddenly my first attempts at a project – the hand embroideries of pale pink blooms - came back into play - the colours started blend tonally creating the start of a body of work.
Subsequently I created a patchwork from my wool flannel samples – which I think feels a bit like a sketchbook, setting out original ideas and thoughts, finding possibilities and understanding what works and what doesn't
After bleaching and dyeing the cyanotype prints with Soda ash and Green Tea I created another far more delicate patchwork , from the cyanotype prints, stitching the images together to create one piece which I hope captures the fragile and transitory nature of shadows. The fine and flimsy material enhancing the ephemeral nature of light and shadow, botanical ghosts echoing a presence, a sense of something that is not quite there.
Interestingly both pieces of textile work have taken the form of patchwork – rectangles joined together. A friend pointed out that the composition of the work resembled the windows in our house, present in many of the images and videos I took as inspiration. A happy accident I think.