The eco printing season here in Minnesota is about to end. Some trees are bare, others still hanging on to a few leaves, and a few species have yet to release their foliage. Many blossoms are gone but others, such as the marigolds, zinnia, and cosmos are still happy and going strong. Once we have a freeze, though, the leaves and blossoms will no longer be able to call to me to asking to be preserved by eco printing on paper or fabric. When this moment arrives I feel both regret and relief.
I love eco printing –choosing and picking the leaves and blossoms, laying them out onto the fabric or paper, bundling and steaming, and best of all unwrapping to see what has resulted. But there is always a sense of time limitation, of urgency, especially as autumn approaches. The eco printing season is fairly long but does come to an end. So I eco print while I still can.
But as the fall progresses and my choice of leaves becomes narrower, my attention slowly becomes drawn to felting, my winter occupation. It’s always sad to see the leaves and flowers go but also nice to have a change of pace. Already some of my retail customers are asking for felted items for the holiday season, so there won’t be an immediate slowdown. And since that killing frost hasn’t come yet, my basement studio is still strewn with eco printing paraphernalia – pots, dowels, iron blankets that lay over the fabric and leaves as they steam, iron water, tannin water, but also beginning to fill with bits of wool roving, bubble wrap, netting, pool noodles used to roll the felt into a firmer fabric, plastic resists, felting pads and needles. It’s actually quite a mess.
I’ve always felt that I function better in an organized space, but I think I need to reevaluate that belief about myself. My studio always seems disorganized but when I tackle the clutter, I discover that all of those items are in use and without them I wouldn’t be creating. I’ve heard a messy studio is a sign of ideas and creativity. The mess means something is getting done. So I’m working on finding a balance, on being content in a mess but not letting the mess take over, on finding a balance that reflects the balance of each season’s activities.
And when that freeze comes, my creative cycle will lean toward felting, the busyness of the summer eco printing will take a rest, and my pace will slow a bit. After preparation for the holidays, I’ll work on sewing some of the fabrics I’ve dyed and eco printed this summer, indigo dyeing and shibori, felting for custom orders, making vessels or wall hangings or little felted animals for my website and Etsy shop and to sell at the few summer art fairs in which I participate.
And before I know it, I’ll be picking the first eco printing leaves of the early spring – wild geranium leaves appearing bright green under the melting snow. And as the snow recedes and the days become warmer and longer, I’ll work my way into another season of growing, choosing and printing leaves and blossoms, tending a garden ever more filled with dye plants, and creating clothing, wall hangings, silk scarves, journals and whatever else comes to mind featuring the beauty of nature in my own backyard and neighborhood.