i'm beginning to wish i hadn't given the name 'ecoprint' to the contact print that results when eucalyptus leaves are heated together with cloth in a damp environment.
since i first observed the phenomenon back in the early nineties the word 'ecoprint' has been adopted by countless commercial printing houses
and these days it seems everything is 'eco'
what concerns me too is that the method i've been teaching [which does not employ synthesized adjunct mordants] has been adopted by others who seem to be less concerned than i am about environmental concerns and student safety
if you teach, you have a duty of care
the bottom line is : printing with leaves using toxic adjunct mordants and layers of plastic is not environmentally sustainable*
and students participating in classes where fabrics pre-mordanted with Ferrous sulphate and layered with plastics for "clear leaf prints" may like to consider that as these bundles are heated, the vapours given off comprise a toxic cocktail of polyethylphthalates as well as the poisonous mordant in combination with whatever plant matter is being used. it is to be hoped that the latter has been identified and that toxic plants are being avoided but either way...you're breathing it in. i worry too about those teaching these methods... Ferrous sulphate is a cumulative poison.
not all eucalypts are safe to use either...some contain cyanatogens, others offer small quantities of arsenic and E. nitens has been implicated as a possible carcinogen
remember that if you can smell something, you are breathing it in...and that the surface area of your lungs [if they were opened out] allegedly approximates that of a tennis court
i know that microscopic amounts are used to treat anaemia but overexposure to Ferrous sulphate can cause
is it worth it?
i use found iron as co-mordant to achieve dark colours. archaeological evidence supports this. time and again you'll read in texts about discoveries that cloth found in proximity to metal in the absence of oxygen was best preserved. whereas traditional plant dye advice was always to be cautious about using Ferrous sulphate as it makes cloth brittle
iron soaked in an acid solution [vinegar, fermented fruit waste or an exhausted leaf-based dye bath] makes a safe mordant for dark colours
the current craze for rust has me worried too. rust particles are sharp and if breathed in, can cause bleeding of the alveoli [those little things in your lungs that take up oxygen]. be careful with it. and avoid wearing cloth that has been 'rust printed'. remember that your skin is your biggest and most absorptive organ
do your homework, make sure you are well informed and stay safe.
and if you want clear leaf prints, put recycled paper between the layers. you'll have the bonus of making something gorgeous to write on.
* yes i am aware that my extensive travel is not sustainable. that's why i plant trees. lots of trees.