Wondering about it? It seems to be the latest rage and it is definitely fun – and mysterious, all at the same time. But first, a recipe everyone should have for next year’s Thanksgiving Feast – Roasted Coot. Enjoy.
(First of all, I want to thank Vicki Michael for allowing me to use her beautiful eco-print of a maple leaf. It is just amazing and I’m thoroughly jealous). For those of you who don’t give a hoot about the recipe or seeing all of the steps, scroll down to end of blog. There’s a supply list and really short step-by-step for you.
And thank you to Charles “Charlie” Brown for his famous Roasted Coot recipe, undoubtedly enjoyed by his kin for many years. Okay, I admit it. I had to google ‘coot’ to see what one were.
- Run down a flying coot with your bass boat.
- Gut him and pluck him. Rub him down with Parkay. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Press him between two preheated bricks.
- Roast in a covered charcoal grill at 325 degrees for 3 hours.
- Separate the coot from the bricks.
- Throw away the coot and eat the bricks.
NOW ABOUT THIS ECO-PRINTING THING
It’s pretty cool. I got into this with the help of my two friends, Trish and Jacqueline. I happened to see their work one day while we were having lunch together. BIG MISTAKE. I fell in love and promptly begged them to show me what they knew. Sounds easy enough, yes? Well, the thing about eco-dying is it can be done so many ways with so many different things. Not only that, you use stuff I’d never heard of before – like “mordant”. What the heck is a mordant?
NEITHER HELL NOR HIGH WATER
What can I say? Once I saw what this process could do, nothing could stop me from trying it. My friends made it easy on me because they already had all of the stuff. For my first try, I brought only paper and also a few scarves that I already had from my batik classes.
As I say, there’s a lot of variables – it’s not difficult, only veeeery sneaky. Everyone seems to have their own recipe. There are a lot of ways you can go about it and, for me at least, each and every time you do it, it’s different.
I’m gonna try to simplify this as much as I can for the sake of this post, but you remember there are many ways to do this, okay? At the end of the posts, I’ll give you some links and other references you can google if you’re interested in pursuing this.
GIT YOURSELF A BIG POT to cook your bundles. A turkey baster is great (and they’re on sale this time of year) Some people use a crockpot. Or heck, you can cook it on the stove. It’s nice, though, to have a temp control and something you can use out in your garage or the yard. Whatever you use, DEVOTE IT ONLY TO THIS PROCESS – do not use it for cooking.
WHAT IS A ‘BUNDLE’?
A bundle is the plant material (the things that make the print) placed onto the surface that you are going to print. I know, you’re thinking two things:
- What plants can I use? Omg, this is a plethora of plants that will work. However, some will not work well, so do a bit of research for this. Check out this Threadborne link which is a great list and photos of plants this author has used: https://wendyfe.wordpress.com/plants-for-eco-dyeing-and-eco-printing/
- What surfaces can I use to make a print? Again, you can use a multitude of surfaces from deli paper to watercolor paper to fabrics. Everyone seems to have their own fav, but one thing is for sure – we all like to experiment and try many surfaces! That’s part of the fun of this whole process. The not-knowing what will work and just how beautiful it might be. Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the process:
PREPARING THE PLANTS AND YOUR SURFACES
You’ll find yourself driving down the road and instead of looking at your cell phone, you’ll be looking at the side of the road trying to discern what plants are growing there. Last time I was about to do this eco print thing, I spied some of the very-wanted staghorn sumac on the side of the road. SCAREEEEEEECH! I need a “We Break for Sumac” sticker on my bumper.
Anyway, you gather your plant materials. In the meantime, you can also SOAK YOUR SURFACE IN A MORDANT. A mordant is something that allows the plant material to stick to your surface and make a print. There are many things you can use for a mordant, but one favorite is Alum. Soak your paper and/or scarves in alum + water. How much alum? It’s like your Aunt Betty making her favorite pie crust – some just sprinkle it in and other aunties measure it out. I’m the sprinkling sort. Then how long do you cook it? For a bit.
It may also be a good idea to soak your plant materials in the alum/water tub. (Be sure to use rubber gloves).
NOW YOU’RE READY TO MAKE YOUR BUNDLE!
Spread out your paper and/or scarf. Lay your plant material on top just like this:
The cool thing about this is there’s a reason it’s called a bundle. You can layer more than one surface at a time! For example, you could lay down a piece of paper, put plants on top, then put on a scarf, then more plants, then more paper. You’re making yourself a sandwich!
THEN ROLL IT UP – TIGHT AS YOU CAN.
Roll it around something – could use a big stick, or a PVC pipe (check to be sure there’s no printing on it or it may print onto your surface), or a copper pipe, or a dowel. You get the idea. A lot of things can work for this. Wrap it with a lot of string to hold it tight. The important thing is to roll it as tightly as you can because this is a contact print. This is what it may look like after you’ve rolled it.
PUT IT INTO THE COOK POT, LIKE THIS:
But wait – what is in the cook pot and what temp is the cook pot?
The cook pot can be plain water, or it can have something in it to dye the surfaces. For example, it could be alum water, or rusty water, or onion skin (my personal favorite) or something else. There are many – enough to drive you bonkers thinking about it. Ha!
Whatever you use, make sure it is steaming hot or simmering is great.
LET IT COOK FOR AT LEAST 2 HOURS. MORE IF YOU WANT.
And then you take it out and let it cool. You can let it sit for more time – hours or weeks. Or if you’re impatient, you can just go ahead and open it. That’s what I do. Are you kidding? I’ve gathered plants and cooked this thing for 2 hours already. I want to see what’s in there! So, I gently open it. This is FUN!
[vsw id=”mp90aXKMI90″ source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]
TURN ON YOUR SOUND FOR FULL EFFECT
SUPPLY LIST. Very short. First-timer short.
At a minimum, you’ll need:
- Plant material – you use it to make your ‘prints’.
- Surface to print on. You can use different types of paper or fabrics.
- A large pot used only for this purpose, never again for food.
- Utensils only for this, not for food. Wooden spoon or tongs helpful.
- Alum for mordanting. (google it or try Dharma Trading Company).
- Rubber gloves. Apron is good idea, too.
- String to roll bundles.
PROCESS: First-timer short.
You’ll be hooked and then you’ll want to read the entire blog. He, he.
- Gather plant materials. Try eucalyptus from Trader Joe’s.
- Get surface material: try watercolor paper and or silk scarf.
- Soak plant materials and surfaces in alum/water solution. Plants in one bucket, surfaces in another. Soak perhaps 15 minutes?
- Lay out surface and layer on plant material. Carefully lay another surface on top (you can mix paper and fabric when doing this). Then more plant material, then perhaps another surface. It’s like making lasagna.
- Roll it all up around something: PVC pipe, dowel, big stick, etc. Wrap it TIGHT with string all around the whole thing. Now you’re ready to cook it.
- Water in your pot should be simmering slightly. Immerse your bundle and let it cook at least 2 hours.
- Time up? Take it out, let it cool and unwrap it. Ooooh and ahhhh.
Now you wanna take a class to learn more? You can try these ladies, all friends of mine that have shown me what they know. Thank you ladies!
I know that you in New Orleans mentioned giving this a try during my visit this year – it’s a possibility. We’ll talk about it.
India Flint is the mother of this technique. She lives in Australia and has gotten great results, hence the spread of this technique.
Thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. I’d love to hear how many of you are going to try this – and if you do try it, what results you get. I’m going to do this again sometime this month. I got my very own turkey roaster on sale at Target. Muah-ha-ha!