By EcoCraft Contributor Amy from the blog The EcoCrafter
Eco-printing is a beautiful way to create wonderful decorative paper from natural items. It creates unique textures and patterns that make great cards, notebook covers, notepaper, art journal accents, and scrape book embellishments. But diving into eco-printing can be a daunting endeavour with a wide range of techniques to learn and supplies needed.
This tutorial offers a quick and easy way to start eco-printing today with items you likely already have or can easily find. It uses no harsh chemicals and gives beautiful results. This craft is good to do with children old enough to be safe with an iron.
What To Know Before You Get Started
This technique is somewhat limited as opposed to more in-depth methods involving mordants and longer cooking times. Not all plants will successfully print onto paper with this technique. I have found dark purple “juicy” flowers work best but had some success with getting faint prints from some other flowers such as dandelions.
Eco-printing is an art form that encourages experimentation so I encourage you to try out different flowers and paper types and learn what works and what doesn’t.
- grape hyacinth
- Watercolor paper
- Printer paper
- Spray bottle
- Tin foil or parchment paper
Get ready by cutting a bunch of grape hyacinth leaving the stem about 4 inches long, filling the spray bottle with vinegar and water at a 1 to 1 ratio, and cutting a piece of watercolor paper to any size you want. I used a piece 8 1/2 by 5 1/5 inches long because when folded it makes a nice size for a card. Also, set your iron to the highest setting and let it warm up.
Lay a piece of tin foil on your ironing board and place your water-colour paper on top. Lightly spray the paper with the vinegar-water mixture. Lay your flowers on the paper in any arrangement you wish. Spray again with the vinegar-water mixture. Lay the printer paper on top, spray the paper, and cover with the second piece of tin-foil and finally the cloth.
Press the iron on the stack to press the flowers flat. At this stage, it is best to not rub the iron since the flowers are still loose and can be moved.
Once the flowers are laying flat run the iron across the stack for about 5 minutes. Gently lift the stack and check the progress. If you see any places where the flower’s colors are not showing through the paper or if you see any dry spots give them a quick vinegar-water mist and continue to iron giving these places extra time under the iron. Iron for another 5 minutes or so.
Gently lift the paper and one flower to check if the print is finished. When you are satisfied remove the cloth, tin foil, and printer paper.
Remove the flowers revealing your print.
Your print is finished. It will look quite purple at first but will become bluer as it dries.
Learn More About Eco-Printing
This is eco-printing at its most basic. Here vinegar is the only chemical used to help the process. This works fine with some flowers such as grape hyacinth but to use a wide variety of flowers and leaves you will need to use a mordant, most commonly alum. To learn more about the wide range of possibilities with eco-printing, including dyeing fabric, check out this great article on eco-printing.