I often get ask about eco prints. People sometimes think they are made using a screen print technique or the colour comes from synthetic dyes. I have taken this as an opportunity to give you a short overview what eco print is and why I am so passionate about it.

Eco print, also known as leaf print, is a direct contact method to make prints, drawing out pigments from plant material onto fabric (and paper) with the help of moisture and time. Moisture in form of heated water can be used either through steam or in a simmering bath; both allow the cloth to accept the dye. The lengths of time of the contact between plant material and fabric will influence the result as well.

eco print native plants by Birgit Moffatteco print on merino fabric

Natural dyes bond particularly well with any protein fibres (silk, wool) and cellulose fibres (cotton, linen) although bonding of pigments with cellulose fibres are usually less strong and vibrant.

Eco prints can be produced from a vast variety of plant materials such as leaves, flower petals, barks and vegetable skins, the selection is endless. Applied mordents (a fixer which ensures colour and light fastness) will have an impact on the outcomes. A mix of different mordents will change the colour of the print. Other factors such as the season and location of plant collection and the mineral content of the water will help shifting and changing colours.

eukalyptus eco print by Birgit Moffatteucalyptus cinerea

This is what excites me about the process; experimenting with these endless combinations to achieve sophisticated and unique prints, often unexpected. Although using a two dimensional technique, the natural and unevenly colours of the prints turn them into a work with a three dimensional impression.

Living in New Zealand I am particular interested in testing eco prints from native plants of the New Zealand bush preliminary on wool and silks. This includes research about plants used by Maori as food and dye source and in traditional medicine. Gathering this old knowledge also helps to understand the world around me.

eco print with lichen by Birgit Moffatteco print with lichen

Learning about the alchemy of plants is another important aspect of eco print, but is secondary for my artistic and serendipitous explorations.

As a textile artist I am trying to find new ways of mark making onto fabrics and sometimes onto paper. My desire is to make unique eco prints is a sustainable approach to use traditional dye plants in a new way, as an art form, revealing the invisible.

eco print native plants by Birgit Moffatteco print native plants by Birgit Moffatt
eco print with ake ake and kanuka

I enjoy photography. Although I dont call myself a photographer, I love to take my camera and go for a walk down the Otaki riverbed, through the nearby bush or even just around the house and garden. There is always something that catches my eyes and sometimes I spend hours to get an image how I like it. I guess it is some form of relaxation.

Over time I have noticed that I am shooting a lot of close ups, so I invested in a macro lens to be able to capture even more details and texture to inspire and inform my art.

This was when I realized that there is a whole new world to discover, well not new but hardly noticed and overlooked before. I was aware that there are lots of lichens growing where I live, able now to get much closer with the lens, revealing lichens beauty.

Lichens captured by Birgit Moffatt Lichens captured by Birgit Moffatt Lichens captured by Birgit Moffatt Lichens captured by Birgit MoffattLichens close up

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These two images showing lichens growing on asphalt and concrete and made me thinking how I could combine textiles and concrete… watch this space!

Using a concrete as a new medium in my arts practice means I have to do some research about techniques and possibilities the new material offers, health and safety issues involved, but also finding inspirations from artists who are already work with concrete. Thanks pinterest & Co. and I found a few artists working with concrete and fibres. Marlies Hoevers is the one whos work has inspired me most; from a creative point of view as well as the visually and aesthetically appearance of her pieces. Interesting also that she identifies herself as a textile artist working with concrete. Here are some examples of her work.

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I can wait to get into my studio tomorrow and start exploring.

A couple of month ago I started to experiment with other media within my art. I wanted to bring in another component to my work. My work is usually very soft, tactile, light, fragile and sometimes translucent. I was looking at opposed properties such as hard, solid, heavy and dense. Contextual practise is part of my art studies and the perfect opportunity to experiment, trying out new ways of doing and reflecting on the outcomes.

Here are some first experiments inserting flowers and petals into plaster and beeswax. It is interesting to see the decay and what is remaining of the petals, I especially like the negative space of the plaster, once the petals have been wilted and removed.

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I also experimented with cement, making concrete. These samples are fairly rough and I guess not very strong. I inserted all kinds of fabrics, mostly my own left over pieces like felt or silk threads. I like the hard/soft contrast and wonder how the look will change on a bigger scale? These ones are made in ice cube molds.

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I just feel most attracted to concrete and it didnt take me long to understand that I have a connection with this hard, urban, strong material . Being raised in the 70s in East Berlin, concrete was part of my every day live. The house I lived in was made out of concrete, so was my school. My playground were building sites in my neighborhood and not to forget, the Berlin Wall always omnipresent.

In the next couple of weeks I will explore more of the material, see where this path is leading to.



I love that plant. Rangiora. I dont know why its called rangiora, but rangi means sky and ora life in te reo māori. I first noticed it because of its unusual leaf form.rangiora print by Birgit Moffatt rangiora print by Birgit Moffatt

Then I learnt that it has been used in rongoā, traditional māori medicine. And the first settlers used it as toilet paper because of the soft paper like underside of the leaf.

I tried eco print with rangiora, without much success. My friend Helena wrote me a German bread recipe on a leaf of Rangiora (and the bread is really yummy).bread recipe on Rangiora

Because it has such lovely veins I tried to simple paint it with thickened dye and printed it on my brown paper bags, ready for the Kapiti Arts Trail.

rangiora print by Birgit Moffatt rangiora print by Birgit Moffatt

Finished. Hope to print a new batch soon… rangiora print by Birgit Moffatt

Haere mai ki taku ao!

My name is Birgit Moffatt and I am a visual art student now in my third year. I live on the foothills of the Tararua Ranges close to native bush and the Ōtaki River in the lower North Island of Aotearoa/New Zealand. I would love to share my experiences and discoveries relating to fibre and textile with you.

Feedback is very welcomed.

A new day

A new day

Come and join me on my journey through the world of fibres!