This is a blog post on how to print fabric using Cotinus leaves. It is also known as a smoke tree as the matured plant produces fluffy grey smoke-like clouds that resemble smoke. The long name is called Cotinus coggygria (red beauty). There are a few varieties of Cotinus from what I understand not all produce blue easily. Cotinus is a shrub that produces red or green leaves in the eco printers world it is heaven-sent. As it produces some lovely blue color if done correctly. Besides indigo, there are not many plants that can produce natural blue shade. Hence, that is why most natural printers love these Cotinus leaves.
It is not easy to produce or extract the blue color onto the fabric as compared to some other types of leaves. Cotinus is a slow-growing shrub that is quite easily available to buy and grow in one’s back garden. It is normally grown as a shrub in front gardens. It can grow to quite a big size (2-3 meters tall) as a result the leaves are quite big as well.
How to print fabric using Cotinus leaves
I have recently bought a new plant this year so I am quite new to producing prints from Cotinus. But after lots of experimenting, I did produce some blue with iron mordant. Due to a lack of leaves, my plant is still quite small. I didn’t produce as many blue hue prints as I would like.
The color extracted from Cotinus leaves when printed on fabric can range from greys, and browns to blues. The type of fabric used protein or cellulose can affect the outcome of the print. Using different mordants I manage to extract the prints and colors out of Cotinus leaves. Here is a link about the use of mordants.
Using tannin and iron will help. On its own, it doesn’t happen easily or at all. Using fresh leaves will help to yield strong prints but it is possible to reuse printed leaves. Most of the time I found that I get blurred prints after reusing printed leaves. It is possible to store the leaves in the fridge to keep them for their freshness.
Update 2022, Over time I found more Cotinus trees I found that the leaves produce different colors. I think the color printed quite depends on the amount of heat applied when printing. I even got great results printed on scoured cotton.