To the right is the first of my sumac pieces. Sumac is a weedy shrub which proliferates in Vermont. In the fall, its leaves turn a beautiful orange-red. It felt very luxurious to have as many leaves to use as I could possibly want, and the varying sizes made a nice variety in the resulting fabric.
Below is another of the sumac fabrics, and here's a link to a page that has yet another length, in quite different colors.
To the right is one of the pieces I've done in California. It uses the artichoke leaves which originally inspired all this leaf business in the first place!
For a larger image of this cloth, click here
For many years, I've been playing with leaves and leaf images. Living in Vermont, I'm very aware of the seasons, and one of the big distinctions in terms of time of year is whether the trees outside have leaves on them or not. When I started with the leaves, I was living in California --a dry but warm climate-- and each leaf was fairly precious, but they were available all year 'round. Now, when I have leaves, I have LOTS of leaves, but several months are completely devoid of deciduous leaves, and I miss them terribly!
One of the kinds of leaves which sparked my interest initially came from the artichokes growing in our back yard in California. Artichokes are big thistles, and the leaves have a very convoluted edge. They worked beautifully with one of my favorite techniques:
Working on a flat surface, I hold a leaf on the cloth in one hand and apply thickened dye with a roller held in the other. I make many separate layers in one cloth, overlapping shapes and colors to create a very complex visual surface.
On the left is a piece of artichoke cloth. I especially like the way some of the leaf images appear dark, and some lighter. I'm working on white cloth, and making negative leaf images. I work from lighter to darker colors, and there's still white on the cloth by the time I reach the darkest color (in this case a rich brown). But the white is in the shape of artichoke leaves, having survived from the masking done with an earlier color, and so when the brown hits that white, it can fully saturate the cloth, and so makes dark leaves appear. This feels like magic to me!