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

Lichens captured by Birgit Moffatt img_8424
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.

 

 

About 500 leaves were stitched by members of my community in June and have been represented as an art installation at Mahara Gallery in Waikanae, New Zealand. Topophilia is a collective artwork, which conveys community bonding through creative activity.TopophiliaTopophiliaTopophilia_F2A8477 _F2A8466 _F2A8459_F2A8416Topophilia _F2A8511 TopophiliaTopophiliaTopophilia

 

 

 

 

 

 

One month of stitching leaves within my community was a great experience: people met people, strangers became friends, old taught young, young inspired old, stories were told, serious themes and not so serious themes were discussed, gifts have been exchanged, tears run, some sad ones and some happy ones, and I have learnt, there is so little one can do to bring people a bit closer together in our sometimes cold and busy society. Now, the leaves are sitting and waiting to be installed at Mahara Gallery in Waikanae.

IMG_7932 IMG_7922 Leaf Stitching with Birgit Moffatt Leaf Stitching with Birgit Moffatt Leaf Stitching with Birgit Moffatt
I am inviting everybody to celebrate our creative community to come and see the Leaf Installation TOPOPHILIA at Mahara Gallery in Waikanae!
Topophilia

Wow, what a week.
Three days at Otaki library and Paekakariki library, stitching leaves. Listen to people’s stories, talking, laughing and enjoying company. The library staff was just very supportive and even did stitch some leaves as well. Here some snippets.

leaf stitch project with Birgit Moffatt leaf stitch project with Birgit Moffatt leaf stitch project with Birgit Moffatt leaf stitch project with Birgit Moffatt leaf stitch project with Birgit MoffattNext weeks activities will be in the Waikanae library:

Tuesday, 21/6  10am – 2pm
Wednesday, 22/6 1pm – 4pm
Thursday, 23/6  9am – 12noon

leaf stitch project with Birgit Moffatt leaf stitch project with Birgit Moffatt leaf stitch project with Birgit Moffatt leaf stitch project with Birgit Moffatt leaf stitch project with Birgit Moffatt leaf stitch project with Birgit Moffatt leaf stitch project with Birgit MoffattSee you there!

 

Today is the official start of Matariki, the leaf stitch activities have kicked off yesterday with a visit at the local market at the Te Horo Hall. Beautiful weather, no wind, so we could do the stitching outside!

IMG_7502From today on I will also post a stitched leaf from a participant each day, till the opening of the exhibition next month.

leaf stitch project by Birgit MoffattLeaf of the day 1 (Pohutukawa)

 

 

 

Kia ora,

I would like to introduce the Leaf Stitch Project today. The project is part of this years Matariki celebration on the Kāpiti coast.

leaf stitch project by Birgit MoffattMatariki is the Māori name for a cluster of stars, also known as the Pleiades, arising on the southern hemisphere horizon every year. In Māori culture it indicates the beginning of the New Year, a time for people to come together, to remember the past, to reflect and to make plans for the future year to come.

Reflecting and discussions around environmental issues are an important part of the celebration of Matariki. It includes giving thanks to the land and remembering to respect and protect nature.

leaf stitch project by Birgit Moffatt
I am providing a space for people in the wider community to come together, connect and share time and give them the opportunity getting engaged in The Leaf Stitch Project by creating a piece of art by stitching onto a dried leaf.

The activities will be held in the four Kāpiti libraries: Ōtaki, Waikanae, Paraparaumu and Paekakariki in during the month of June. Dates and times of these stitch activities see here.

The stitched leaves will be set up in an art installation  at Mahara Gallery in Waikanae in July. I will post more information closer to the date of the exhibition opening.

leaf stitch project by Birgit Moffatt

I am looking forward to meet you there!