The Magic of Eco Printing with Caroline Bell

On Monday 18 June 2018, Caroline Bell came to talk to us about Eco printing, a topic that was unfamiliar to most of us. She explained that she had been a social worker, but after bringing up her family decided to turn her attention to more creative pursuits. This led to enrolling on a City & Guilds embroidery course where she discovered a passion for natural dyeing and hand stitching.

Later on Caroline completed a foundation degree in Stitched Textiles at Eastleigh College and was selected in 2013 by the Embroiderers Guild to be exhibited at the Graduate Showcase at the Knitting and Stitching shows in London and Harrogate.

During her time at Eastleigh College she studied natural dyes and came across eco printing, a process where plant imagery and patterns are transferred onto fabric and paper. She explained that the process is relatively simple, in that plant material is wrapped in fabric or paper and either boiled or steamed to transfer an image.

Afterwards the prints are fixed with a mordant. Caroline went to explain what this meant and how it worked.

 Caroline explained that with this type of printing every piece of fabric or paper is unique and it is impossible to recreate the same design twice. However, with practice (and no doubt perseverance!) similar designs can be obtained.

Caroline combines natural dyes with eco printing and then adds stitching to her designs, producing some very beautiful embroideries.

Caroline also introduced us to India Flint, Irit Dulman, Kathy Hays and Fabienne Dorsman-Rey, all of whom have inspired her.

Thank you very much Caroline, for a fascinating talk and for bringing so many of your subtley dyed fabrics in such wonderful tones to show us. We are looking forward to the workshop you will be running for us later in the year.