Printing with Nature

Part of our journey to a slower life is finding alternatives to mass production. The majority of relatively affordable linen and soft furnishings tend to be made of synthetic fabrics and dyes, mostly to cut costs and to stock the fast-growing one-stop-shops (all of the major food chain stores now stock décor).

That is why when I discover someone who has made it her passion to produce lovely natural fibre and dye linen, cushions and clothing I have to share it with the world! Aucamp Studio!

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Leoni Aucamp started twenty years ago in product development where one of her ‘problems’ was to get a photo onto a cushion.

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She is absolutely fascinated with textile and fabrics. Perhaps her background at Pretoria Technikon gave her the technical skills but it is her love for art by accident that inspires her most. She does not follow a recipe she creates her own.

At the age of 30, she started to explore oil on canvas and wanted to further her career in Interior Design. Studying Photography gave her an extra dimension to creatively express herself.

She believes in constantly reinventing herself.

Her passion for textile developed into a project of finding a way to be as natural as possible. That is how her research brought her to the ancient art of natural dyes. Ironically this method of dye (Shibori) originated in the lower class when they were not allowed to wear silk. Indigo was the colour and tying knots to form patterns was the art.

This and nature printing is at the heart of Leoni’s unique creations. Printing with plants, rocks and other natural objects developed in the 18th century but Leoni incorporates these techniques to produce her own style. She has discovered that the age of the leaves affects the colour of the print, just one of many discoveries as she explores this forgotten method.

Hemp has been used for centuries and controversial as it may be (derived from the Cannabis plant), it offers the softness of a natural textile but is seven times stronger than cotton. This makes hemp long-lasting and can be mixed with silk and cotton to produce beautiful varieties of fabrics.

It is really easy to come by in South Africa; when I did my research I found several websites stocking hemp clothing, fabrics and oils. It is just a matter of shifting to a more natural option, probably more expensive but better in the long run considering the durability and sustainability.

Leoni works with nature, she says

“ I am capturing natures alchemy” she also laughs and says “I’m like a witch over her cauldron, brewing beautiful dyes instead of potions”

Maybe so, but her beautiful cushions and linen, clothing and accessories are far from witchcraft, instead it speaks of a beautiful passion for nature and art.

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She has many ideas and does not want to let it all out of the (hemp)bag.

What we do know is that she supplies Weylandts and her humble garage workshop will soon have to expand by the looks of her success and passion.

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watercolour camera

Gillian Coetzee

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