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Combine my stubborn streak with this mysterious art form of ‘Eco Printing’ and you have a whole lot of unique prints! I have been completely obsessed with this way of printing especially on cotton. Eco printing uses natures gifts in the form of leaves (and sometimes flowers) to create a transfer print to fabric without the use of ink or painting (so no drawing or painting skills needed). Come see this magic of Eco Printing on Cotton…

Preparing the Cotton Fabric:

As I had mentioned in my earlier post, each type of fibre needs to be readied for taking the colour from the leaves. To make sure you are starting with the cleanest possible fibres you should scour your fabric. Most fabrics have some coatings, starches and buildup of oils. Scouring is a strong cleaning to get of these impurities. Cotton should be scoured with a 2 hour simmer in a washing soda (soda ash) solution. Rinse out all the ‘dirty’ water once cooled enough to handle.

Cotton is fairly inexpensive so it seems a great fibre to start with. That is what I thought; however it turns out it is more difficult to print on cotton and other cellulose fibres (such as linen, rayon, hemp) than it is on protein fibers (such as wool & silk). With that said, preparing/scouring and pre-mordanting cotton is even more important.

The pre-mordant that can be used with cotton is soya milk. Multiple ‘soak and dry’ cycles help the fibre allow printing. Aluminum acetate (make at home using alum, washing soda & vinegar) is another possible pre-mordant however soya milk is readily available.

One of the printing mordants that I like to use is iron. I make a bucket full of rusty items and water to create a solution of iron. Vinegar can help you along to create an iron acetate. You may also buy iron sulphate and then use specific recipes for your iron solution. But the artist in me likes to be a bit more adventurous and leave some to chance, but it takes patience.

Oh the Mystery:

As a side note; this Eco dyeing art form is very satisfying when it all works, but it will not always happen. If you want perfect results each time, then find another print method. ‘Just as in life; things that are more difficult to get are usually worth more…’ That’s my theory and I accept the ‘duds’ as part of the process.

I have spent months learning and reading and testing and testing some more. But just like a degree in chemistry it is still no where near knowing it all. But that is also the beauty of this Eco printing; it keeps you yearning to learn more and trying new variations to make beautiful textiles.

I am a great observer. I had left a leaf in the iron water for a couple days and when I noticed it there was some great blue-black created by the iron and the tannins in the leaves. Ah-ha! A chemical reaction of sorts; so much fun!

Materials Needed:

  • Cotton Fabric (practice on ripped strips of cotton bed sheets)
  • strong string of some type (butchers twine is great)
  • scissors
  • some round type of dowel/pipe to wrap the fabric around (thicker is a bit better) (old wood curtain rods work well, copper pipe, piece of pvc pipe )
  • tray to soak leaves in
  • rags/towels (to soak up extra messes)
  • gloves
  • extra old sheeting (optional to make ‘Iron Blanket’)

Step #1 Prepare your leaves

Depending on the time of year, you may have fresh or dried/pressed leaves to dampen. I let them soak in the iron water for at least 30 minutes (enough time to get set up)

A long table is great, and placing some plastic or tarp to protect against stains (from iron)

In reference to the leaves, there are some that are more sure to print well. Maple leaves, japanese maple, rose, sumac, eucalyptus, smoke bush, black walnut, red maple leaves etc. have high tannin content. You will find your favourites. The weather, time of year, area, all play into the way that the leaf prints. The underside tends to print stronger as well.

Is your head spinning yet? That is why you need to take notes, for future reference.

Step #2 Place the leaves

These sheets were scoured in washing soda (not baking soda) well and no other treatment. (see further down for more pre-mordanted cotton methods)

The dipped leaves are placed so that there is a good coverage. Some are facing up and some down.

Step #3 Roll’em Up

Roll it up tightly to keep the iron-dipped leaves well flattened to the fabric. At this time I was not aware that there may be bleed through to other layers (like a fabric sandwich). A layer of ‘barrier’ plastic drop cloth can be put on top of the leaves to make sure there is no bleed through.

Step #4 Tie the Bundle

To keep the fabric tight to the leaves, wrap at regular intervals quite tightly.

As an extra measure you may wrap the entire roll in a foil or plastic. This will keep the moisture in and not let more in. Each slight variation may give different effects.

Step #5 Steaming (or boiling)

Depending on the type of leaves you have used they may give off odd smells/vapour when they are steamed/boiled. I have read that sumac may be somewhat irritating to some. For that reason I decided to do the cooking outside on the BBQ side burner. Use an old pot or dedicated vessel.

You have the choice of steaming or submerged boiling. I chose to use steaming since it seems like less extra water would effect the print. Make sure the bundle is elevated (on top of some small mason jars or steam basket) and you don’t run dry. You can add metals to the water as extra mordant but I feel that they don’t really get into the bundle when steaming.

The time needed also varies. Some boil/steam for as much as 3 hours and some for about 1.5 hours. I tend to steam for about 2 hours. If you would like extra setting you can leave it bundled for a long time (weeks) or open right away. I chose something mid way. After steaming for 2 hours I wrapped them in a thick blanket to hold heat for a while longer.

UPDATE: As of late I am often using my ‘Alternate Eco Print Processing’ method and it works great and saves so much energy

Since there is generally no indication how things are going it is like Christmas when it is time to open them up. This one was giving me a bit of a sneak peek. I never tire of the opening stage! I bet that is why most find this art form so addicting.

Well, there you have it! I was quite happy with these results!

The amount of detail that these prints made was quite amazing. ‘Like stipple drawings of leaves.

These are walnut leaves were also dipped in iron solution prior to steaming. I love the detail!

Step #6 Neutralize and Wash

After unwrapping you should give them a rinse in a weak baking soda bath to neutralize the iron.  Then wash in a ph neutral detergent like (good for the duckies) ‘Dawn’ or other specialized washing soap. I find there may be a bit of extra tannin washing out, but most of the strong blacks stay put quite well.

If you have too much ‘black’ print then you have a strong iron solution and can dilute it more next time.

So, are you amazed yet!? That is just one simple basic method. There are many more variations, add in some natural colours by using a dye bath with plant dyes and you will be even more amazed how truly magical it is!

Eco Printing Method #2

‘The Iron Blanket’

As a variation of the application of the iron mordant you can also make an ‘iron blanket’. An iron blanket is an extra piece of fabric (even paper towels) that is soaked in the rusty iron water and then wrung out. This layer will be put above the leaves to bring the iron to the fabric in a different way. In this method the leaves are not dipped in iron water, they are used as is (or wetted if dried)

Do you notice a difference in how the colours/prints turn out here? They are now printing the colours outside of the leaf shapes since the iron is applied around the leaf shape. The tannin of the leaf spreads out from the leaf and blends with the iron from the blanket to create the ‘halo’ shape and accent the leaf. Some make soak through the leaf and also print a colour. You just never know exactly…

The Barrier Layer

To keep the colours from bleeding through the layers I definitely use a barrier layer. That can be plastic wrap (Like Saran wrap) or strips of plastic drop sheets (reusable). Some find success in using baking parchment paper, even tin foil as a barrier. I like to use the drop sheets as I can cut off a strip in the width that I am working with.

This is a heavy weight cotton that was pre-mordanted with soya milk. It is soaked in a solution of soya milk and water ( 1 part to 5 parts) and dried and then repeated. This can be repeated as many as 5 times. I soaked in soya 2x.

The results are again quite amazing! I love how they look like water colour paintings! Each specie of leaf can also bring some colour to the mix.

Oh how I wish I could grow some eucalyptus leaves! Go ahead, run out and get some leaves and Eco Print on Cotton. Do check out here before you start on your magical Eco Printing journey. Natural dyes add another dimension (cochineal, pomegranate, logwood, sumac )

Have fun creating botanical prints, so many variables, easy instructions. More complete info here

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

This Post Has 92 Comments

  1. That is so beautiful! I cannot wait until you show more approaching Christmas!

    I’m so grateful for you talents and especially because you share with the world!



  2. Barb,
    You constantly amaze me with your creations, yet another beautiful project that you created, thank you for allowing us to share in your creations.


    1. That’s kind to say. Even after so many years of painting my own art I get such a kick out of the unexpected results each time! Better than playing the lottery…

  3. Thank you for your kind ideas and new creations. I’m very enthusiastic to begin some projects. Tell me please some dyes for Christmas time.

  4. I have never seen anything like this! So unique and amazing! Hope to start in the spring. I’m lured by the Iron Blanket ! Thank you so very much for sharing your art & looking forward for more.

    PS I have a love for linen. Is it possible to apply this method to linen?

    1. It IS such an amazing art form! Yes! I have seen many people who use linen. Just be aware that you will need to do some testing (perhaps small pieces) until you find your magical ‘combination’. Good luck!

  5. Hi barbara, i have a question. Im new at this technique. Not sure where to put the barrier?
    Cotton with fresh leaves then iron blanket on top then the barrier on top of all OR do i start with the barrier sheet ( iow back of corton) then my cotton with leaves then the iron blanket. As im not sure about this.
    I used a iron blanket once ontop of silk but most of the prints went onto the iron blanket itself?

    Thank you

    1. I put the barrier on top before rolling to prevent bleed-through printing. (I bet some people put it on the bottom but the result is pretty well the same as since it ends up between the ‘sandwich’ layers) The iron blanket works well when the fabric is dyed first so that the iron reacts around the leaf shape to create a different type of silhouette print around the leaf shape. I use them mostly with the silks that are pre-dyed.

      The iron and tannins react to make prints so yes, you will get prints on the iron blanket as well. Sometimes I find parts that I keep some to use in projects from the iron blankets. My guess is that you will have a silhouette type of print from the way you are layering. It’s all such an experimentation process. You could make a roll that has a few small trials in it.

      Good luck. Keep researching and reading. There’s also dipping in tannin solutions… No steaming outside in this -10º weather.

  6. Hi Barb, just found your blog about printing on cotton. So informative and comes just at the right time as I was going mental trying to print on cotton. Soya milk must be the answer as you have said, soak fabric in 1 part soya milk to 5 parts water, dry and do it again at least once . BUT…SOAK for how long? 1 hour, 4 hours, overnight? and I’m guessing no final rinse before printing technique?

    1. I’ve read that cottons should also be well scoured as they can collect a lot of oils etc. Overnight seems to be my way of doing things, but that is not a rule. As you may see there are few steadfast rules. I’ve even heard that some do many soya milk soaks, or even other milks. The rinsing is something I did not do, but again some do rinse as it gets kinda stiff. Sorry for the vague answers, it’s the nature of this art form. It’s funny as some of the best results happen by a mistake… Good luck

  7. Never heard of the iron blanket before…..interesting. New things to try are always exciting. Thank you for inspiring others, myself included. So happy to have found your blog, as you and I share many common interests.

  8. Hi Barb, thanks a lot for your clear explanation. I started eco printing one year ago. Proof after proof. Different mordants/iron/rust/allum/gallnut… . Best works are on silk but I love work with cotton. How do you use Iron blanket?
    All the best for you!.

  9. Hi Barb,

    Could I use just reg. Soy milk out of the container from the store? Or is it best to use Soy Beans?

    Love your work and thanks for sharing such wonderful information!

    1. Yes, I used soy milk from the store. I have read that some have even used regular milk. It’s strange, I remember my mom soaking the calf liver in milk before frying, said it would make it more tender. Oh, if only I could have followed chemistry more! Good Luck!

    1. I have been thinking of doing that too! Do let me know how it goes! I had someone generously offer to ship me some from ‘down under’ but it is not allowed. I am sure I will find some new way to be creative!

      1. Thanks for all your information. I did my first last evening and am already steaming some houseplants like coleus today. You can start eucalyptus from seed and grow outdoors to zone 8 . OSC seeds has them. I also read that you can bring them inside to overwinter if you have lots of sun.

        1. I did manage to buy a couple eucalyptus plants and was super excited! I did everything the garden centre said and they just dried right up! I had them in bright light as well. Maybe it’s just not meant to be…

  10. Hola excelente trabajo, la leche de soya entonces se utiliza como el mordiente de la tela de algodón, o se debe aplicar algo más, y para sellar la estampación se debe utilizar bicarbonato? Me encantan tus trabajos quiero comenzar con algodón saludos desde Chile.

    1. From what I translated yes, soy can be a mordant. I have read that some using a little baking soda to neutralize the iron afterward. Yes, it may take a few experiments to figure out which leaves work best in your area. Good luck!

  11. Desde Argentina te envío un agradecimiento enorme por la generosidad de explicar muy bien cada paso. Amo el Ecoprint y tus datos me han servido muchísimo.

    1. translated: From Argentina I send you a huge thank you for the generosity of explaining each step very well. I love the Ecoprint and your data has helped me a lot.

      It always amazes me how far and wide my posts go! I wonder what type of plants you have there? Happy printing!

  12. Hi.
    I really enjoyed reading your blog.
    Ecoprinting is not new to me. I was working mainly with silk and some wool.
    I like cotton and want to practice more with it.
    Your instructions are very friendly and clear.
    Thank you
    I would love to follow your blog.
    Best wishes

  13. Hi Barb, really nice post. I wish i’d find you before haha. I have a question, in the first method, I understand you used soy as a pre mordant, but, when you talk about iron is that another mordant? Or is it just for leaves? I didn’t get it. Thank you so much!

    1. There are so many answers in this world of eco printing. As soon as there seems like a definite method then someone figures out something new. I guess its like cooking; so many recipes. Iron can be used as a pre-dip, or to soak leaves or to make an ‘iron’ blanket. The strength of the the iron will also play a role. Grab an old bed sheet (100% cotton) and make some tests, take notes and have fun!

  14. I love this!!! I was recently married and would love to do this with my wedding bouquet. I currently have the flowers in the freezer. I’m just terrified it wont work.

    1. Well, I did make a scarf for my daughter in-law with the leaves from her wedding bouquet roses. The flowers from what I have ead and learnt don’t really make good prints that last. But rose leaves, not flowers do. Practice with some regular ones then use yours from the freezer when you are getting decent results. That’s the nature of echo printing, there’s some magic needed…

  15. I live in Australia on acreage and I have literally billions of eucalyptus leaves is it legal to post them to you if you can find out Im happy to post you some please contact me via my email if you’d like me to do that for you maybe we could swap leaves if its legal to do so – I love your blogs so so informative so interesting Ive made a donation hope it helps to keep you afloat lol have a great day

    1. Bonjour Leona. J’ai lu votre commentaire sur le blog de Barbra ( où vous dites que vous avez plein d’eucalyptus chez vous. En France, nous avons aussi des Eucalyptus mais ce ne sont pas les mêmes. Les feuilles marchent moins bien. J’ai vu que pour avoir de bons résultats il faut un certain Eucalyptus qui n’a pas une écorce lisse sur son tronc mais, au contraire, une écorce épaisse et craquelée. Si vous avez ce type d’arbre chez vous, voudriez-vous m’en envoyer quelques feuilles pour que je fasse des essais ? Chez nous les Eucalyptus ont des feuilles plutôt longues et pointues. Le tronc a une écorce lisse qui pèle en longues bandes très fines comme du papier. Sur mon blog, j’ai mis des photos de ces arbres que j’ai tout près de chez moi. Je me dis toujours qu’il faudrait que je trouve un parc exotique pour, peut-être, y trouver un eucalyptus différent qui donnerait de bons résultats…. Actuellement, je prépare un petit travail d’art textile avec quelques-uns de ces tissus teints. Bien sûr, quand ce travail sera terminé, je mettrai la photo sur mon blog. Ici l’été commence tout juste mais nous n’avons pas encore très chaud. D’ailleurs, en Bretagne, il ne fait jamais très chaud contrairement au Sud de la France où habitent ma fille et sa famille. J’espère que vous voudrez bien envoyer une petite enveloppe avec quelques feuilles vers la France ? Je vous souhaite de beaux ecoprints avec les recettes de Barb !!! A bientôt peut-être ? Merci d’avoir lu …. Mimi

      1. Hello Leona. I read your comment on Barbra’s blog ( where you say you have lots of eucalyptus at home. In France, we also have Eucalyptus but they are not the same. The leaves don’t work as well. I saw that to have good results you need a certain Eucalyptus which does not have a smooth bark on its trunk but, on the contrary, a thick and cracked bark. If you have this type of tree at home, would you send me a few leaves for me to try out? With us the Eucalyptus have rather long and pointed leaves. The trunk has a smooth bark which peels in long very fine strips like paper. On my blog, I put pictures of these trees that I have very close to my home. I always tell myself that I would have to find an exotic park to, perhaps, find a different eucalyptus tree that would give good results…. Currently, I am preparing a small textile art work with some of these dyed fabrics. Of course, when this work is finished, I will put the photo on my blog. Here summer is just starting but we are not very hot yet. Besides, in Brittany, it is never very hot unlike the South of France where my daughter and her family live. I hope you will send a small envelope with a few leaves to France? I wish you beautiful ecoprints with Barb’s recipes !!! See you soon maybe ? Thanks for reading …. Mimi

        As far as I know, the post office does not allow shipping of leaves. People have offered to send some to me and it was not allowed. Good luck.

  16. Hi there! Just found this post and your work is beautiful! I have a question for you. Could this be done using dead plants? Like the dead leaves in the middle of winter? Could it also be done using sticks or bark? I read that the bark of trees also contain tannin so I would assume it would work, but I was just wondering if you or anyone you know has tried. Thanks!

    1. Funny, I just picked up some a couple minutes ago and it’s winter here! The whole question is always ‘which ones print best?’ I have heard that some eucalyptus bark prints well and I had tried small branches from my birch; which did not work for me. But that may also be about the prep and the fact that they are hard to get contact with fabric. Soooo, I stick to nice flat leaves. There are methods to making some ‘teas’ with found things like gallnuts and acorns to use as tannins. There is really a whole book-worth and it’s generally hard to get exact info since many factors have impact on the result. Check out the entire ‘Eco Print’ section I have under the ‘Home’ menu. You’d especially like the latest cotton printing I have a stock pile of dried leaves ‘calling my name’ right now… Happy making!

  17. Hello Barb, thanks for sharing… its very interesting making some ecoprint. How about flowers? Do you have some experiment with flowers?
    Thank you

    1. Well, on the most part, flowers may transfer colour but it tends NOT to stay or be permanent or fade over time. A major part of this eco printing is doing tests as changing any part of the process will possibly give different results. I did have a lot of fails but I do learn from them… If you want exact results then just use paint/dye. Do also check this post Happy making!

  18. Thank you for your wonderful tutorials, Barb! I have been attracted to Eco Printing for several months. It was a pleasant surprise to come across your Pins on the subject and your blog with easy to follow instructions. Although there are many variables, you have separated the variables out into separate lessons. I am so happy with the results, I couldn’t help but donate to your blog. You have taken the mystery out of the process, not to say the results aren’t magical! Thanks again.

    1. Oh thanks so much for that! It really does help. I could just paint some scarves but what’s the fun of that?! It’s much more satisfying to crack the eco print code! Good luck in your eco print journey!

  19. Hi,
    I was looking through Instagram pictures getting ideas for art/craft projects for a summer camp with kids 10-13 years old. Do you think this is a project that could be done with this age group, or would it be too complicated? I love your results!!!

    1. The fact that you will be outdoors makes it sound great. The concerns I’d have is that there will be heat involved (unless you take that responsibility) and also possibly the mordants. Whenever planning a kid-involved craft it’s best to pre-test and also simplify. Perhaps printing on paper would be easier, I do also use the microwave I know attention spans are quite short so plan easy ways for each part. Good luck!

    2. I teach textiles to this age group. The dyeing I do in class is Sun Dye. This is a brand in Australia, so not sure what would be the equivalent in other countries. No pre treatment of fabric required. Just paint the dye onto your cotton fabric then lay objects, such as leaves or cardboard cut outs etc, on top – or even scrunch it up or make pleats. Leave it in the sun to dry. The areas where the sun has been blocked will dye a lighter colour resulting in a pattern. Set the dye by ironing or putting in a tumble dryer. The kids love it – even the boys.

      The eco dyeing won’t be practical for an energetic class of 27 kids, but guess what my family are all going to get next Christmas. I can see me working all year on scarves!

  20. Hi Barb,
    Thanks a lot for your blog. You are an artist! 🥇
    I have just begun with the eco print. It is amazing! 💕
    Today I have done my first work with the help of your tutorial. I’ve done with cotton. I love the result, but it is a little bite light for my pleasure. I don’t already clean with the baking soda solution. Is there something I can do to improve? Next time I am going to try with another plants.
    I will keep in touch. Thanks again 😉

    1. You should scour (clean) with washing soda not baking soda. Not all leaves perform the same. It’s all about figuring out your personal best with what is available to you… It will come! My first prints looked like dirty cloth but was determined. Sometimes I think it’s playing with me.

  21. You are the best! Thank you very much for these wonderful tutoriel….I am living in Argentine , and l love nature …and eco diying will be ma next activities…

  22. Thank you for your informative explanations. I am a beginner and this week I got some good result and then when the cotton pieces were dry, I through them in the washing machine ( end of the day and I was tired) with no washing powder and silc washing. But nevertheless, 50 % of the prints did disappeared. How do you rinse it after Printing?

    1. I try to wash the prints by hand, but that’s not a rule depending on the use of the end product. I don’t through the silks in the machine. The machine does tumble them quite a bit. You may want to let them dry to see if they can get a bit more stay power as well. Yes, some of the ‘colour’ does wash away especially if it’s not reacted with any mordant or iron. Do scour your fabric before mordanting as well. My water is very dirty sometimes. Cotton is one of the toughest, and mordanting it is especially important. Lately I have been using Aluminum Acetate recipe and find it works really well. These Maples held up really well. It’s a learning process, don’t despair…

  23. Hello,

    First of all thank you very much for writing this article, helped me a lot to understand the process. I just had today my first try with printing after documenting and reading a lot about the process. I am not sure about the following thing. I read that after simmering, the textiles should be left out in the nature to dry out completely. Have you ever tried this ? I also saw lots of videos where they were unwrapped after simmering. Please advise if possible.
    Thank you,

    1. Just like there are so many ways to eco print there are beliefs about the ‘wait’ as well. Some eco printers say it does not make a difference. I’d say letting it rest/dry/sit can give more staying power or prints. I often let mine sit after the microwave processing under the blanket until morning. It’s then my morning joy to wake up to! Like Christmas… I’d say almost everything I now know I figured out by trial and error as many won’t divulge their secrets, so experiment as you go…

  24. Found this post after having 2 cotton and 2 linen print attempts fail. The one time I successfully dyed linen, I scoured with salt for two hours, then boiled with blackberries for two hours and then let it sit for a full day in the bath. It was a lovely dirty lilac color. My print attempts with cotton and linen have not been so magical… thinking I need to scour these (I did not scour) and I’ll add an iron blanket for security (lol)

    Thanks for all your insight and sharing!

    I would say for first timers, start with silk. It’s far more forgiving and you’ll get that little dose of magical inspiration to keep you going through the harder fabric times…haha!

    1. Yes, silk is just amazing as is wool! It’s like any art form, there is a learning curve and this one has so many variables to deal with. I don’t know anyone who is an absolute expert…

    1. Partly, there are quite a few ways to mordant. Using (or making) Aluminum Acetate is one of the preferred ways. I have also heard that mixing alum with washing soda (sodium carbonate) will yield something quite similar, but I have not tried it. Using the tannin(tea, myrobalan)/iron combination seems to make such a strong bond that cotton/linen don’t even need a mordant. This is without a mordant. With all the variables in fabric, scouring, leaves, mordant, temperature, it’s really difficult to pin-point definite recipes. I’d rather leave a bit to chance/magic… Happy experimenting!

  25. Love your process and work Barb. I have printed material. And have seen that transferred. (Blanketing). Can you give me steps or info how to do that. Happy printing. Mary anne

  26. Hi! thank you for all the infromation you share with the world! i am so inspired with your work and entusiastic of the microwave method … It do work! I was wondering if you have done ecoprint by steamming on the microwave.

    1. I have not used a vessel to steam in, but when it’s damp it is in a sense ‘steaming’ since the water particles get very hot and even boil if too long. I avoid boiling as it will burst the bags. See here Have fun!

  27. Hey Barb, I love your amazing share! That’s really helpful.
    I have a question, is it any leaves can be make ecoprint?or I mean What kind of leaves are good for ecoprint?
    Thank you.

    1. That’s a big question as there are thousands of species! And many countries. Check through my posts and see some of the best print ones. Some reliable ones; rose leaves, maple, sumac, walnut, eucalyptus. Try what you have and build up your choices… It’s all fun

      1. Hi Barb,
        Very happy to come across your page while searching for some details on eco printing. I am from India, got some success with the local leaves, not fully. My obsession is driving me crazy. as my artistic sensibilities don’t get satisfied easily 🙂
        The processes you have mentioned, most of them I have tried already. I do understand there are varied factors involved in satisfactory printing, weather, leaves, fibre and the processes.
        I wont get the exotic leaves available in other parts of the world, have to keep experimenting with the leaves around me 🙂

  28. Soy milk is not a mordant. Mordants include tannic acid, alum, chrome alum, sodium chloride, and certain salts of aluminium, chromium, copper, iron, iodine, potassium, sodium, tungsten, and tin. Soy is considered a binder, not a mordant. It may have an effect on pH and change dye colors, but its primary function is to “glue” the dye to the surface of the fabric. It is not considered durable compared to alum mordants as it does not chemically bond with the fiber but sits on the surface and holds the dye to the fabric., so it’s more susceptible to washing and rub-off.

    1. Thanks! I often see/read the term mordant used in the wrong context. I’d rather just have fun with the unexpected outcomes instead of the strict science…

      1. I agree with that Barb, it’s the unexpected results that are the fun in this process. But in respect for those who have taught natural dyeing and written books etc. we should use the proper terminology. It really bugs them when wrong information is presented as facts.

  29. Bonjour et merci pour vos articles très constructifs sur l’ecoprinting. Je joue aussi depuis quelques années et j’ai fait un tas d’essais, notamment par fermentation, nettement moins productive que par cuisson. Mes meilleurs résultats se trouvent avec le Sulfate de fer et l’Alun. Mes meilleurs végétaux : les feuilles de rosiers, les feuilles de mûriers, les feuilles de Sumac. Certaines feuilles ne marchent pas du tout. J’ai vu des personnes obtenir de merveilleuses empreintes très rouges avec les feuilles d’Eucalyptus mais les Eucalyptus que nous avons chez moi (Bretagne, en France) ne donnent pas ce résultat. J’ai ramené des feuilles d’Eucalyptus du Sud de la France mais il me semble qu’ils ne donnent pas un résultat très rouge non plus. Alors je cherche…. Peut-être vais-je prendre contact avec votre lectrice d’Australie qui propose d’envoyer des feuilles ? Ses Eucalyptus sont sûrement différents des nôtres ! En tout cas votre article me donne envie de recommencer mes essais. C’est tellement amusant ! Et l’été, quand il fait beau et chaud, on peut travailler dehors ou dans le garage sans salir la maison …. Mon mari aime mieux ! Je vous souhaite bonne continuation et je vais m’abonner à votre blog pour continuer à lire vos articles passionnants. Bien amicalement !!!

    1. Hello and thank you for your very constructive articles on ecoprinting. I’ve also been playing for a few years and I’ve done a lot of testing, notably by fermentation, much less productive than by cooking. My best results are with Iron Sulfate and Alum. My best plants: rose leaves, mulberry leaves, sumac leaves. Some leaves do not work at all. I have seen people get wonderful, very red prints with Eucalyptus leaves but the Eucalyptus we have at home (Brittany, France) do not give this result. I brought back Eucalyptus leaves from the South of France but it seems to me that they do not give a very red result either. So I’m looking for…. Maybe I will get in touch with your reader from Australia who offers to send sheets? His Eucalyptus are surely different from ours! In any case your article makes me want to repeat my tests. It’s so much fun! And in summer, when the weather is nice and warm, you can work outside or in the garage without dirtying the house. My husband likes it better! I wish you good luck and I will subscribe to your blog to continue reading your exciting articles. Sincerely !!!

      Yes, I have gotten good prints with many of those leaves. Use what you can get and have fun with it. Add a dye or dye blanket and so many options!

  30. Thanks you so much for sharing and I wish I could send you some eucalyptus, I have a huge tree outside my gate.
    I know some people make and sell eco printed dish cloths on hemp and linen but wonder about the constant washing of them, surely they won’t last too long, they are advertised as colorfast. Will they last? Thanks again 🍃

  31. I am quite late to this post, but so intrigued by this process! My question is about the iron water. Do you have a ratio estimate of iron water to plain water in the tub with the leaves? Thank you! Your site is just fantastic!

    1. That’s always the question. I tend to be quite heavy with my iron as you see these are almost black. When using rusted pieces it’s quite an estimation. If you buy Iron Sulphate it is better to measure. Many factors can influence the outcome so I generally work like an artist, by ‘feel’. If dipping fabric you can weigh it and then use 1% (more or less) iron in a bucket. Some leaves ‘want’ more iron to print some less. Best way; test your leaves, water differences can also influence. But do mordant/prepare the fabric properly. I love these prints using maple

  32. Hello!! I’m trying to apply this technic for my thesis (it envolver sustainable ways of producing fashion garments), I’ve made multiple attempts and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

    I do believe that my issue is the mordant. I didn’t have time to make it as you with the rusty stuff and wait 2 weeks (have a deadline). So I used the iron sulfate suggestion. But I still can’t make it happen. The flowers and leaves look like they lost all coloring but it doesn’t stick to the fabric. And I did go throu the cleaning process of the cotton.

    Please help.

    1. Not all the leaves have the ability to print. Maple, sumac, rose are reliable. Flowers tend not to print as the tannins are not there. Also cotton is more difficult than silk. Make sure it is indeed 100% cotton. The best mordant for cotton is Aluminum acetate. Check this post

  33. Thank you for sharing this captivating info! I was wondering using the “iron blanket” technique, if I were printing on silk can I use cotton as the iron blanket or vice versa? I’m assuming some color may transfer to the cloth used as the “blanket” so I want to use a unimportant/inexpensive piece of fabric for that. Do you know?
    Thanks again!

  34. Thank you so much barb! I have a question regarding the premordant process, because in my case I have a hemp-silk fabric. 60%hemp-40% silk, what would you recommend? Sending love your way!

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