Plant portraits

Sixteen plant portraits on Hahnemühle Ingres paper

I made these in preparation for Margo Klass’s concertina class tomorrow. I will need to use 8 to 12 of them for glueing into the album.

When I first took them out of the steamer yesterday, I was very disappointed. It looked like nothing had happened! Just the palest wash of colors, the slightest suggestion of leaf forms. And brown edges that looked like the paper had been burnt. Maybe something was wrong with my steamer? I gave up for the day, figuring I’d have to try again after class was over to make contents suitable for the album.

Today I had some time and energy to try again. I thought I’d have to overdye with new plant material, in other words start from scratch. I made a much stronger solution of iron-vinegar potion and dropped a piece in. I know this, but I had forgotten that an iron-vinegar dip can “develop” a pale print. I was shocked to find deep shadowy tones and shapes emerging! So I went ahead and developed all the rest. In the end, I only overdyed the chrysanthemum (leftmost, second row from top) because it didn’t have enough definition.

I feel good about using these for my album content. They portray my most familiar, most local plants and my current skill level. I don’t have the patience to get detailed prints showcasing single plants. Everything kind of mashes together in a great purple wateriness because I stacked four sheets into my plant sandwiches. And I don’t have the knowledge to control what dye oozes out of which plant to influence the whole stack. Still, forms are identifiable in most of these and there is most definitely a magic going on. I’d like to repeat in a second album someday so I can view progress.

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