Discharge eco-printing on cotton with logwood and geranium

Discharge eco-printing is a method that has been mostly developed and refined by Irit Dulman. She has some very useful information about this technique on her blog. It is a type of eco-printing where fabric is dyed a solid colour, then leaves are placed on top. When the bundle is cooked, some of the leaf acids and other compounds react with the solid dye and ‘discharge’ it, leaving a leaf print surrounded by colour.

Geranium leaves eco-printed onto logwood dyed cotton, creating a discharge effect

As with other types of eco-printing, most people seem to do discharge printing on wool and silk. But because I prefer using plant-based fibres, I have been experimenting with this technique on cotton. This is my most successful piece so far.

Discharge eco-printing on cotton

I used logwood dye for the background, which has created a rich earthy purple. And I used 2 varieties of geranium leaves to create the discharge prints.

 

As you can see in this video, one variety creates far clearer discharge prints than the other. But I am happy with both, because I wasn’t going for an even, uniform appearance with isolated, clear leaf prints. I like the moodiness of this tope, which reminds me of night skies and fireworks and magic.

Discharge eco-printing: Geranium leaves and logwood on cotton

I am still very new to this technique. But here is what is working best for me so far: First I mordant my fabric with aluminium acetate, then soak it in a warm dye bath until it is the colour I want. I choose a leaf with good discharging potential (Irit Dulman shares many examples of these on her blog). Generally the back of the leaf discharges more, but I like to use both sides and see the different effects. After placing the leaves on the dyed fabric, I fold it up, clamp it between tiles and cook as usual.

Examples of a cotton top dyed with logwood and discharge eco-printed with geranium leaves

2 thoughts on “Discharge eco-printing on cotton with logwood and geranium”

    1. That’s just sloppy writing, thanks for catching it Rebecca. I used aluminium acetate for this top. It is my go to for mordanting plant based fibres because it can be used without tannins.

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