Eco Printing

Eco Printing

Cathy  (Luvswool) and I had an Eco Printing day this summer.  I mordanted my fabrics before hand and picked some flowers and leaves from my garden and froze them to bring.

Elizabeth had kindly sent Cathy some Smokebush and Japanese Maple leaves.  Cathy generously shared some with me.  Thanks Elizabeth and Cathy!

I had brought some coreopsis, day lilies, lobelia, verbena, petunias and leaves from my neighbors tree.  I have no idea what kind, but they were red, not maple, and a little wavy.  Other than a few faint marks none of my stuff did much with the exception of the coreopsis.

Cathy also had some coreopsis, a little bigger in flower size, plum, geranium and rose leaves and pansy flowers.

Of course, time was at a premium and we were anxious to get started and forgot to take pics with the leaves and flowers before wrapping.  My bad.

My first experience with eco printing last year was a disaster.  So, I had a lot to learn and fortunately Cathy had everything ready when I got there.  So we got right to work laying out, dipping leaves in iron water and wrapping. We used copper pipes, bamboo mat and binders and clips.


We had two pots going, one plain and one with  sweet gum seed water.  I had brought the seeds from California.

The light plum fabric below was Egyptian cotton from an old bed sheet. It’s too tightly woven to felt, but I wanted to try printing on it.  We also added a piece of handmade paper on the inside to print on both sides.20160719_130528

While still wet:

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Now dry:


Here are both sides of the paper:

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I had brought a variety of fabrics — silk habotai, cotton broadcloth, cotton voile and cotton kona cloth.  This was the kona cloth while still wet.


Here are both sides and a couple of closeups:

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After drying you can clearly see the string marks and the bamboo mat marks.


20161031_150421The silk piece came out nicely. Here it is wet:


Then dry:

20161031_145914 20161031_145939 20161031_145950 20161031_150108I think the Japanese Maple, Smokebush, rose leaves, coreopsis flowers and leaves, plum leaves and geranium and pansies made the nicest prints.

The broadcloth didn’t fare as well except for the very ends.

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The cotton voile:

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Thanks Cathy for your guidance!  I’m pleased with the results.

Well, we’ve managed to hang on to summer for one more post.  Next time I hope to remember to take before pictures.  Now I have to figure out what to do with all this.  Any suggestions?



17 thoughts on “Eco Printing

  1. Some very nice prints there Marilyn. Smokebush and Maple are some of my favourites for eco-printing. What size are they?
    Depending on sizes:- Mount onto a canvas and hang. Embellish with stitch. Add painted detailing. Back with wadding and backing fabric, then quilt for a hangnig or perhaps a cushion cover. Chop up and insert into greetings cards. Chop up and stitch the pieces to a textured backing. If the silk piece isn’t long enough for a scarf, then you could cut it and felt in some cobweb felt- using the silk pieces for the ends. This list is not exhaustive! 😉

    Have fun! 🙂

    1. Thanks Judith! I appreciate all the ideas. I guess I’ll have some new projects to work on.

      The leaves were about 3″ long.

  2. I’ve been on a mission to learn eco-printing for quite some time. Two friends and I have already dedicated time to it twice…..and were fairly unhappy with our results. With more research I’m finding there are so many variables: ph of water, leaves/materials used, mordants, fiber content, length of time processing, to use an iron blanket or not…..oh my. Your pieces inspire…thank you….I’ve not given up!!

    1. Thanks Mary! I was lucky to have Cathy’s guidance. My experiment last year was a disaster. I’m glad you’re inspired. I look forward to seeing your success! Have fun.

  3. Great post, Marilyn, and I was so happy to be a part of your successful eco-printing day! I do use my own eco-prints in story cloths, wall-hangings and personal clothing and accessories. My eco-printed paper makes special greeting cards.

    I can’t top koffipot’s list of suggestions, but I will add one more: I have sold small packs of my natural-dyed and eco-printed cloth in my Etsy shop. Quilters, mixed media artists, and art students are my customers.

    1. Thanks again Cathy! This may be good for when I travel and can’t felt. Although, I feel all thumbs when I stitch or paint. 🙂

      I guess I’ll have to get more creative in my thinking.

  4. Looks like you had fun Marilyn. I mainly use my eco prints for cards. I think they look better in small pieces anyways. Hope you have fun exploring the many choices from Judith!

  5. Nice work Marilyn! The online eco-print class I am taking with Nicola Brown officially begins tomorrow, although she has already provided information about gathering plant material and created a facebook page for the students to chat and post work. I am very excited to begin and have never done any dyeing or printing before. I, too, am wondering about what to do with random pieces of printed fabric. You’ve received some great suggestions! I like many of the ideas but am thinking that really lovely leaf prints would be rendered unrecognizable if used for nuno felting. But maybe that’s a great idea for some prints that are more muddled. Love the idea about using pieces for quilting!

    My intention for Nicola’s class is to get the basics down with a few samples, then make wet felted placemats and trivets and eco print them for Christmas gift giving. Vessels would be nice too, but that seems pretty complicated for a beginner. Nicola posted a GORGEOUS wool cowl she felted, then eco printed. I want to make it, but I can’t quite figure out how she did it! She is planning another class in the spring to teach how to eco print on dimensional pieces…I’ll be signing up.

    1. Thanks Terri! It sounds as if you’ve got some good ideas for Eco printing yourself. I like the idea of placemats. Knowing you inexperience won’t stop you from the vessels! Have fun! And please share your creations with us. I look forward to seeing them and hearing how you like the class. I follow Nicola online and she makes some terrific creations.

  6. You have some lovely prints there! The print where you can see string and bamboo marks looks a bit Japanese. You have enough material for a lot of the projects suggested above – busy winter evenings for you.

    1. Thanks Lyn! Bamboo mat and shibori style wrapping would give it a Japanese look. 🙂 It’s nice they can be portable since we travel through out the winter.

  7. I think Judith covered all the best ideas! I do like the idea of greetings cards. If you don’t want to lose any definition from the silk in nuno, you could do a thick piece and make a book cover? You could try some of the surface design techniques Ruth does and combine them with the prints too. You got a great variety to choose from 🙂

  8. Thanks Zed! I do have a lot to think about. But then I’ll have to make a decision. :-0

  9. Looks like you had some good success with the eco printing. It seems like a difficult thing to get nice prints. A lot of experiments with lots of different leaves. It’s nice to be experimenting without just looking up what works in a book.

    1. Thanks Ann! I think it takes experience to know what works in your region and what doesn’t. I also think seasons may make a difference. But the only way to find out is to experiment. 🙂

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