‘To dye for’

Plant enthusiast teaches the art of eco-printing

Poppy Hatinger talks about eco-printing at a Saturday presentation at the Peter White Public Library. The process involves printing natural materials on paper or cloth, for example, in an environmentally suitable way. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — You too can have a “garden to dye for.”

That was the title of a presentation by local gardener Poppy Hatinger, who talked about the art of eco-printing on Saturday at the Peter White Public Library.

“It’s that combination of interests and gardening and artwork that brought her to the eco-prints,” said Ron Rossway, president of the Upper Peninsula Master Gardener Association, which hosted the talk.

Hatinger, also a maker of willow basketry, gave a simple explanation of the process: adding color, pattern and texture to a substrate.

“It’s contact printing, and it’s done in an environmentally friendly manner,” Hatinger said.

These prints are examples of eco-printing, made by Poppy Hatinger. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

Eco-printing could be enjoyed by a variety of people.

“Who is this process for? Plant lovers, because it’s another use for our plants,” Hatinger said. “People who like to create. I don’t have an art degree and I’m not an artist.”

Judging from her finished products, though, many people wouldn’t suspect she’s not a professionally trained artist.

She did acknowledge falling into another eco-printing demographic.

“People who like surprises,” she said. “I guess I fall into that category because you never really know what you’re going to get.”

This is an eco-printed creation of Poppy Hatinger. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

One method of eco-printing involves “pounding a petal.”

Hatinger said that in this method, a person pounds a flower petal into fabric, ironing it to help set it.

“It’s not going to last forever, but it lasts for many years,” she said.

Flowers that work well in petal-pounding, she noted, include johnny jump-ups, pansies and red geraniums.

Hatinger also uses steaming bundles and watercolor paper to eco-print.

“That’s where I sort of stepped out of my comfort zone and started to experiment,” she said.

This method involves placing wrapped bundles containing plants in a steamer, placing the steamer on a hot plate or stove, turning up the temperature and steaming for up to two hours, adding more water if needed.

As with many pastimes, keeping records helps.

“If you want to be able to repeat the results, keep track of what you did,” Hatinger said. “For me, it’s just the surprise. I’m not selling this. I’m not selling my products. I’m not trying to repeat it.”

Records could include the name of the plant, date, material collected, process, dye vessel, mordant and remarks.

Hatinger also provided a list of plants for a “Yoopers Dyers Garden.”

Lovers of yellow could plant goldenrod or marigolds, and for people who prefer red, madder root is a good suggestion. Coreopsis and orange cosmos are good plants to grow to get orange, while mulberries and pokeberries are suitable for purple.

To get a blue-dyed product, grow woad or dyers knotweed, and to get a green hue, try black-eyed susans or pink cosmos. Black is even a possibility, with smoke tree and sumacs proper choices.

Resources for people wanting to try eco-printing include: “Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles” by India Flint, “A Garden to Dye For” by Chris McLaughlin and an e-book titled “Plant Poetry” by Louise Upshall.

Membership in the Upper Peninsula Master Gardener Association is open to anyone who enjoys gardening. The organization has field trips and garden tours, develops gardening conferences and live monthly educational presentations, and helps with funding for master gardener projects, among other activities.

The $25 annual fee covers membership from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. A form listing name, address, phone and email plus a check payable to UPMGA may be mailed to Linda Andriacchi, 1500 Aspen Drive, Ishpeming, MI 49849.

For more information on the association, visit UPMGA.com, or email rrossway@gmail.com or linda.andriacchi@gmail.com.