The pastel talisman

My friend suggested I create a white talisman book. She really liked the purity of the white papers with the white thread and white scraps, monochromatic, colorfree.

I just couldn’t do it though. I’m helplessly drawn to getting colors from plants. Also, I realized I like the flatness and edge colorations from come from boiling bundled books! So I compromised and did not use any iron-vinegar potion, which has a darkening effect. I would get only the subtle colors from leaves and stems, boiled in nothing but water.

So here’s the latest work in progress:

Five book bundles (forgot to take before pictures!)

Still wet after a half hour simmer and an overnight of resting in water

Closeup of some pages after drying, resting on the creamy white damask napkin that will become the cover. Clockwise from top: tansy, iris, blueberry.

The plants all came from the yard. Some notes:

  • Blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry all print well. Sometimes with dots, which I love.
  • Oxalis does not print any colors but made a pretty heart-shaped resist on one page.
  • Tansy reliably gives a greenish yellow print.
  • Sweetfern is probably my favorite dye plant. It grows rampantly here and gives a rich dark print, even without iron.
  • Purple iris gave a lovely strong blue that spread subtly through several pages.
  • Yarrow is inconsistent. I got a great print from it once and have been trying to recreate it ever since. This time all I got was subtle grays.
  • I used some baby rhubarb leaves and stems. I think they yielded a light print, nothing impressive.
  • Milkweed – a very faint green. Leaving it for any monarch caterpillars that come by.

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