Sunday, June 06, 2010

Printing nature

As some who read my blog may know, I am a herbalist as well as an artist.   Although my medicinal herb garden isn't as big as it once, there are still many of the more common and useful herbs in it that I use regularly.  Comfrey is one of them.

Comfrey grows to about 4 feet high, and has large leaves with visible white hairs on them, especially on young leaves, like peach fuzz. Comfrey grows like a weed and it is hard to get rid of once it has taken hold. It has drooping flowers, in colors ranging from purple to pink to blue to white. You can pick the leaves in spring and summer, they are best before the comfrey flowers. The flowers come in late spring and summer. And the roots are usually collected in fall and winter.

With the comfrey in the garden in full growth now, I picked some of the young leaves for relief printing.  Comfrey leaves and quite sturdy and hairy but that doesn't affect the print that you get with them.  I left the leaves to wilt a little overnight before printing.

Using 12 x 16 inch Okawara paper and a water based block printer ink, I inked the leaf on the reverse side, then turned it onto my print surface.  I burnished it using a baren and the resulting prints look almost like surreal trees.

I played around with some tiny prints using a hand made Indian paper, as well as used newsprint as above for some test prints.  There are lots of ideas in my head for more print options for plants and especially herbs as I have a garden full of them. A few grape leaves from the greenhouse work well too.

Why the initial image won't show as horizontal, I don't know.  Blogger has its moments I guess, so you have to use your imagination.  I will conquer it and this print will be available for sale on Etsy soon.


Billie Crain said...

These prints are wicked cool.:) The comfrey leaves look like spear heads.

Betsy LaMere said...

Beautiful prints, Jeanette. You know, I had the same trouble with blogger rotating a pic I tried to post to my blog today as well...

Gesa Helms said...

hm, great prints, jeanette! i'm envious of your garden, but i've been doing a number of forages into the wild and am keen to do more with my rather rudimentary botany skills to inform landscape art.

one of the things i want to do when i get to start working proper in the print studio here is etch leaves and other plant parts with soft ground to print. i hadn't considered relief printing.

good luck with your printing endeavours which sound great!

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Love the leaf printings, Jeanette. The detail you get is pretty amazing.

Jeanette said...

Billie, I love the shapes too.

Betsy, thanks. I don't why Blogger does that sometimes. I'll try to fix this image later.

Gesa, I'd love to learn to do etchings. Leaves and fish would lend themselves beautifully to etching I think.

I'll look forward to seeing what you produce.

Thanks Elizabeth, I was quite interested to see how well they print the detail.

Julie Broom said...

These have come out very well. Judging by your patience and precision with the Masai beads and the pointillism boat you did recently, I think you would be a complete natural at etching.

A Brush with Color said...

I love all of these!

tracywall said...

Ditto Billie: "wicked cool!"