|Left: Trametes versicolor Right: Auricularia Mesenterica|
It's a simple enough process. You need a hammer or mallet, a couple of pieces of thick paper or mat board, and some sort of relatively smooth woven cloth that's either been mordanted or has been through the washing machine a number of times.
You fold the fabric over the leaf or flower, then you sandwich the cloth between two pieces of mat board. Next, you hammer the heck out of it. I tend to start out hammering through the mat board them I hammer softly, directly onto the fabric. You've got to be careful not to squish the leaf or flower into the fabric. I have a dish towel that was used in a demonstration and I still can't get the little bits of vegetable matter out of the fabric.
For these prints I used woad leaves. I wasn't sure what color they were going to give me. Sometimes they give me blue, but this time they gave me a clean bright grass green.
There were a few hints of blue in the stems. These leaves came from old plants that have been in the shade most of the winter, so I doubt that there's much intigotin in them. Still, they made beautiful prints.
I love using old dish towels for printing. You don't need to mordant them. They've been mordanted by the detergent from many many washings. Also, people aren't precious with dish cloths so when the colors fade they won't be as disappointed. Of course, the towels can always be refreshed with a new layer of prints when the original impressions fade.
I'm going to the market tomorrow and will buy some pansies to finish off the cloth. I love printing with pansies. They make very delicate and detailed prints. The pansy prints don't survive many washings, but I've had good luck with woad leaves. I'll run an iron over the towel when I'm done printing just to set the dyes a bit. Then I'll put the towels away for a couple of months just to let the prints cure. This type of printing isn't supposed to make durable prints, but I think that's debatable. I've got one dishcloth that has some buddleja leaf and flower prints and it's been through the washer and the dryer multiple times with no real change to the quality or strength of the colors.