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What is Eco Printing?

Eco Printing is the process of transferring the color of leaves, flowers and rusty elements into a piece of fabric or paper. It’s a part of the natural dyeing practices which are sustainable and eco friendly for humans and for the environment.

As a mom Eco Printing has become a go to activity during the holiday times. We collect leaves and flowers, whatever is in season and we bring them home. Because you never know what you are going to get its quite an exciting activity for the kids.

Everyone will get totally different results and most times very unexpected ones 🙂

eco print

Eco Printing on paper with leaves and flowers

I like to take every opportunity I can to collect leaves and flowers when we are out and about with the kids. We now have a little puppy so we are going for walks in the park too.

There are always leaves and beautiful colored flowers that have fallen on the ground so I try to take advantage of these moments and collect as much as I can. I also use flowers and leaves from my garden such as geraniums, dyers chamomiles, avocado leaves, rosemary, mint and eucalyptus.

Eco Printing on paper with rusty nails

Eco Printing with rusty nails is super fun. Just remember to wear gloves for safety so that you are not touching the rust too much.

I love collecting rusty nails but you can also include rusty lids from beer cans, sewing pins, demolition materials such as rusty springs, tools etc. Anything rusty goes!

eco print

What materials do we need to Eco Print on paper?

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These are the materials you will need to get started:

Eco Print on paper step by step tutorial

Word of warning: Anything that you use for Eco Printing should not be used for cooking!!!!!!

Step 1:

Cut your paper into the desired measurements. For this example I have done a couple of A5 final size, so my original size was A4 piece of paper which got folded in the printing process.

Step 2:

Prepare a solution of water and Alum powder. For best results I use 10 cups of water and 1 full teaspoon of alum powder but you may need to follow manufacturers instructions.

Make sure Alum is well dissolved and place watercolor paper in it. Leave it soaking overnight (or at least for 2 hours).

Step 3:

Remove paper from Alum solution. Fold in half to create a halfway crease. Place flowers, leaves or rusty nails on one half of the paper and fold the other half pressing firmly so that the plant material or nails are not moving.

eco print on paper tutorial using eucalyptus leaves

Press tightly. Wrap your folded paper with a piece of muslin fabric. Wrap it as a present and tie with your thread. Tie it really tightly!

wrapping the paper with cotton string to eco print on paper

Repeat the process with as many pieces of paper as you may have. You can include two folded pieces of paper in each little parcel.

Step 4:

Prepare your steaming or boiling pot by pouring water into the pot and bringing it to a simmer. You can decide if you want to steam or boil. I prefer steaming so I will normally use a steamer from the kitchen store.

placing the eco print on a steamer

You need to steam for two hours.

steaming the eco print paper to fix the print and color from flowers and leaves

After two hours, remove from the steaming pot and let it cool.

eco print tutorial

Once you are confident that you wont get burnt fingers untie the little parcel and surprise!

flower print on eco print paper

Try it with the kids it an amazing fun activity to do and you can use the eco printed paper as cards for gifts 🙂

Check out this super fun to make handmade book using eco print paper which makes a great gift.

The photo below shows how the rusty nails made a print on the paper. Read this article for more ideas on how to use iron water and rusty nails to create natural prints on fabric.

iron print on eco print paper tutorial

Reach out and send me pics of how your printed paper has turned out! Would love to check it out and include it in the blog!

To take your Eco Printing to the next level you can use it in combination to Solar Dyeing. Check out the solar Dyeing Video tutorial here.

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