August 17, 2018

Tutorial for Eco Printing on Paper

There are many Internet sites and videos on how to accomplish eco printing (or eco dyeing). I’m sure they are good, but I always want to keep things as simple as possible. This is the process that works for me.

I plucked this selection of leaves and waning flowers from our yard after some rain.

Pressing them is necessary and can be done any way you like -- under a stack of books, etc. Since my plant materials were wet, I used paper towels between layers in a wooden board press overnight.

The next day I removed the pressed materials and covered them with plain water to soak. Then separately I mixed enough water with a generous sprinkle of Alum (from the grocery store spice section) to cover the 9 watercolor papers I was dyeing. I left both soaks for at least 2 hours. Longer is fine too, even overnight.

I poured the liquid off both soaks and arranged the wet plant materials on my 9 wet watercolor papers. Leaves should be placed backside down to get a good image of a leaf’s veins. Following are a few photos of my 5x7" (a good size for making note cards) papers after arranging plant materials on them.

I sprinkled dried rosemary on the one below.

This one has a sprinkling of chili powder. Experiment with whatever comes to mind!

When all my papers had plant materials, I placed them in a neat stack in the middle of a larger piece of wax paper (also can use parchment paper or similar). Then I put another sheet of wax paper on top of the stack.

Next I put this stack between 2 wooden boards (anything sturdy can be used...2 ceramic tiles, plexiglass, or even cardboard will work). I folded up the wax paper on all sides, and secured the bundle tightly with string, jute, yarn, etc., securing it for steaming.

For this next step, you can use an old double boiler, a vegetable steamer, or whatever you can put together for steaming that will keep the bundle above the steaming water. I used an old small round roasting pan with a rack in the bottom. But the rack wasn’t high enough to keep the bundle above the water line, so I added a flat rock. The bundle went on top of that rock, then another rock went on top of the bundle for weight.

I added water to the pot, brought it to a boil, lowered the heat to simmer, then covered the pot tightly. After simmering for at least 2 hours, I turned the heat off.

Then I allowed the pot to cool (sometimes until the next day) before taking the bundle apart to see the eco printed images on my 9 papers. Such fun, like opening a gift! After opening, I laid them flat to dry naturally. Once dry,  I pressed them in a stack with weight to flatten them even more.

A caution especially when the papers are still wet from steaming: handle with care. They can easily tear and even get surface damage from handling. If some of the plant material is hard to remove, wait until the paper is dry to nudge it off.

Some Internet instructions say not to use an aluminum pot, but others suggest it doesn’t matter. My pot is aluminum, and I’m very happy with the results. Also, once you have used a pot or utensils for any kind of craft, NEVER cook food with them again.

Be sure to let us all know if you decide to try this! ☺️


froebelsternchen said...

Simply fantastic - thank you for the tutorial!
Amazing prints!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

This is wonderful. SO unlike what I did, but you got some incredible results. Beautiful results, Barbara. I'll try it your way next time, but I'll stick with my stainless steel pot, if you don't mind. Thanks for doing this.

kathyinozarks said...

beautiful tutorial Barbara-I had not thought of soaking the leaves overnight or weighing them down first either-great ideas and great results-thanks for all the photos and information

Gene Black said...

Very interesting. For some reason I thought that you were eco dyeing fabric. I wonder if it would work - and if it would be permanent on the fabric.

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Cool to see your process Looks like a lot of work and beautiful results made it worth while.
xx, Carol

My name is Erika. said...

Wow Barbara-these came out amazing. Thanks for sharing those instructions. Hugs-Erika

Debra said...

Amazing process-I didn't know how to do this...

Let's Art Journal said...

Beautiful papers! I enjoyed following along and seeing the process you followed too šŸ˜€. Have a great day! J šŸ˜Š x

Julia @ Vintage with Laces said...

Thank you for this wonderful tutorial, Barbara. I won't get around trying it this year but I saved it for next year. Your papers are beautiful!