SchoolArts Magazine

October 2016

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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repeat the results of their experiment, they must keep meticulous notes, as demonstrated in Jenny Dean's book, Wild Color: The Complete Guide to Making and Using Natural Dyes. Student note-taking should include the scientific name of the plant, parts of the plant used, and time of harvest; the cellulose or protein content of the cloth or paper to be dyed or printed; the processing times; and the types and amounts of mordants. A mordant acts as a bond between the fiber and the dye, which alters the final color of the dye or print, depending on the variables used. Although the possibilities of natu- ral dyeing and eco-printing are end- less, we simplified our experiment to four kinds of leaves chosen by each student to be tested with four vari- ables on four accordion-folded books. Day 1: Gathering Leaves Our school sits near a wooded area on the bluff along the Mississippi River at the southern edge of St. Louis. My seventh- and eighth-graders col- lected four sets of four different kinds of fresh leaves as I guided them on a short hike. Back in the artroom, students recorded the common and scientific names of their leaves before storing them in unsealed plastic bags. Day 2: Accordion Books Using rulers and scissors, each stu- dent measured, cut, and scored four accordion-fold books from 18 x 24" (46 x 61 cm) 90 lb watercolor paper. Each book had eight pages. I gave each stu- dent a research document to complete with four columns, one for each test book. Each book had only one vari- Printing and d eing with plants is superb for exploration and experimentation that often leads to serendipitous results. ableā€”the mordant. (Test A: vinegar mordant; Test B: soymilk mordant; Test C: alum water mordant; and Control Group: pH neutral water, no mordant.) On the front of each book, students wrote their names, the Test (A, B, C, or Control Group), and the variable using a pencil. (Ink can bleed through when steamed.) Inside the books on the right-hand page of each valley fold, students wrote the scientific and common names of one of their four leaves, with a different type of leaf on each page, always recorded in the same order. Day 3: Oxide Immersion Wearing non-latex gloves and working on one book at a time, students placed one set of four leaves in a small tub of iron oxide (Fe2O3) to soak for three minutes. The solution was made in advance by immersing rusted objects in water for one week before strain- ing. While the leaves soaked, students dipped one book in one of the four

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