Answers to your most common questions about the process of botanical printing also knows as eco-print and leaf printing
So, you tried eco or leaf printing but maybe it didn’t turn out quite the way you expected? Or maybe you are unsure about some of the process steps and so you have not even started?
Well, I am here to answer some of the most asked questions from which leaves make the best prints to how long you boil or steam your bundles.
What is botanical eco printing?
This technique goes by many different names: eco printing, eco dyeing, leaf printing, contact printing, bundle dyeing, botanical dyeing and more.
Basically, it is a natural dyeing process where color particles in plant materials are transferred to a base such as fabric, paper or ceramic by applying heat and moisture.
In simpler terms, you can take a leaf or a flower, place it firmly onto some fabric and then steam or simmer that for a time. The colors or dyes (if any) contained in the leaf or flower may then print onto the fabric.
How do you eco print on paper and fabric?
This article covers the most common FAQs about eco printing aka botanical printing or bundle dyeing so I will not go into the details of the actual process.
However, if you want to learn how to make eco prints on paper, you can find that information in this article.
Also, the detailed step by step instructions for printing on fabric can be found in this tutorial.
Make sure and grab my free guide below! ⇊⇊
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List of eco printing FAQs
Here we go… these are some very basic questions that I have been asked over the years about how make eco printed fabric or paper. The questions are in no particular order.
If you have a question that is not addressed here, by all means, comment below and ask! I will do my best to give you a comprehensive answer.
What are the best materials for eco printing?
The best choices for fabric are natural materials such as animal fibers (wool, silk) and plant fibers (cotton, bamboo). Each type accepts the dyes a bit differently.
Depending on different factors, you may need to pre-mordant your fabric in order for the prints to stick and be light and washfast. You can learn more about mordants here.
As a general rule, synthetic fabrics (nylon, polyester) are not well suited to this dye process.
What paper is best for eco printing?
Personally, I like to use smooth 65 lb. cardstock paper to make my prints. This type of paper is heavy enough to hold up to simmering or steaming for several hours and smooth enough to produce clear leaf outlines.
Cardstock paper is also sturdy enough to manipulate later into journals, greeting cards, bookmarks and more.
Is eco printing permanent?
The permanence and color fastness of the prints depends on a few factors. What type of fabric did you use? Did you mordant the fabric? Does your plant material contain natural tannins which act as a mordant?
These have been used in the kitchen and have all held up very well to constant washing and drying. The organic cotton fabric fell apart before the prints faded.
Which leaves are suitable?
The best plant materials contain some natural tannins. Here are leaves and flowers that I have personally used with pretty good results:
- Maple (red and green)
- Black Walnut (leaves and stems)
- Willow Oak
- Staghorn Sumac
- Wild Grape
- Tulip Poplar
- Eucalyptus (leaves, stems and berries)
- Roses (leaves and flowers)
- Nasturtiums (leaves)
- Four O’Clock (leaves and flowers)
- Garlic Mustard
Can I use dried leaves for eco printing?
Yes, you can! To my great surprise, actually. The first time I gathered dried leaves and tried to print with them, they were apparently already way too dry. This was after the Fall season and there was not much dye left in the leaves.
However, if you gather freshly fallen leaves and dry them out of direct sunlight, they hold their color and dye inside for later printing.
How long do you soak leaves?
When you are ready to use your dried leaves, you first need to reconstitute them. You can easily do this by soaking them in some warm water.
I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules about how long to soak them. Personally, I like to leave them in the water for a minimum of one hour. It doesn’t hurt to leave them longer.
Some natural dyers also like to add vinegar or lemon juice to their soaking water. I have tried it with and without this addition and can honestly say I do not see a difference.
How long do you have to boil your eco prints?
If I submerge and simmer my eco bundles in water, I will usually leave them for about 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Then I let them to cool completely overnight.
How long do you steam eco prints?
When steaming, I allow at least 2 hours or more. The steam takes longer than water to penetrate the materials and reach the inside of a bundle.
Again, I let everything cool overnight before opening my botanical prints.
I hope that answers your most common eco printing FAQs to your satisfaction. If you need clarification on any points, please let me know. Also, if you have any questions about botanical prints that I have not covered, feel free to leave a comment below.
This Eco Printing Kit contains Silk Fabric, Alum, Craft Thread, Collection of plants materials, Pdf of Instructions with pictures
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