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eco print showing layers of imprints from multiple print sessions

When things don’t quite turn out great; don’t ever despair and give up! Try to be even more creative, take it up a notch. Eco printing is not limited to one print; so many amazing effects are possible. I’ll show you how to take drab prints to ‘Fab’ prints!

madder dyed with fresh leaves placed

The basic Eco Print:

It probably starts somewhat like this; damp dyed fabric (madder dyed in this case), leaves placed and then layered with an iron blanket, barrier layer (upcycled reused plastic). Tightly rolled, tied and processed (my favourite in microwave) and waiting with anticipation for an amazing result! It’s so exciting!

Reddish eco print showing sumac leaf details

Oh wow! Unroll and see all the details and tones. When the prints are wet they tend to be darker and brighter. Washing will also sometimes take some of the contrasts away.

reddish silk scarf with many tones

Everyone has their own taste and preferences. This would be totally acceptable and beautiful, but I like more defined details. That’s just how I am, even how I paint. I also tend to think there is always a way to improve designs… the curse of being a designer.

preprinted scarf with new layer of leaves

Eco Print Round #2:

So after washing and some contemplation I decided I did not have much to lose by trying another round of Eco printing. Out came the leaves and a simple use of and iron blanket again.

unveiling of print showing more depth

Tada!!! Well, much to my surprise many things seemed to happen inside that mysterious bundle! Can you see it!? The layering of shapes is interesting, since you can the silhouettes through the leaf shapes.

unrolling of bundled leaves and silk scarf

Even though the fabric was washed and dried and even sat for a while, it still possessed the ability to react with the ‘new’ tannins and ‘new’ iron blanket. Yes, I know it now has a lot of darks meaning there is quite a bit of iron which can degrade the fabric over time. I’d like to think I am making heirlooms but I’m much more in the ‘now’ than the +75 years!

placement of maples on pre-printed scarf

Once I realized that multiple printing gives such new opportunities, out came some so-so prints for round #2!

so many details when unrolling

Such amazing layering! And that does not even explore some additional options of dyes and tannin use. You just need to be aware that the iron and tannins in the first round are still able to take part in the reactions! For that reason I would avoid an entire dip in iron solution.

unexpected prints from iron blanket

This print was an accidental shocker! See the wonderful fern prints?! These just happened to transfer from the prior use of the iron blanket. It only managed to transfer where the tannins of the maple leaves were. How novel?!

round #2 leaves placed

Once I figure out something new… I’m off and running! And Rolling! Some drapery silk (cochineal printed months earlier) was a bit too predictable!

so much more layers and details print

So much better in my opinion! Look carefully and you will see the first maple leaf prints in this multiple eco print!

notice images from each printing session

Can I say it again?! This is so much fun; even though it IS unpredictable!

So, do not just stash your dull prints! Give them new life! Try Multiple Eco Print effects! Let know what magic you make!


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

This Post Has 8 Comments
        1. I don’t think so, only because the protein fibres require that you use an acid to make the dye into an acid dye (like vinegar) This did mimic the details of ice dyeing. I always say… where there’s a will! However maybe using a dye carrier blanket with the Eco printing!

        2. You can dye silk with Procion mx dye in ice dyeing. I use silk all the time to make scarves and fabric. Scour the silk, use a soda ash soak and ice dye using your favourite method… ie with powder or liquid dye. Give it a go. The procion mx dyes don’t work on wool.

          1. Be careful as Soda ash will hurt the protein fibres of silk. Just wash with a good soap. Use an acid like vinegar to make the dye act as an acid dye with silk and wool. True blacks are difficult to get on silk however. But it’s all fun and interesting!

  1. Hi Barb.
    I have a question re: your multiple print above.
    On the 2nd printing you said “don’t dip entirely in iron because there is aready iron from first print. How I’d that achieved exactly. . Do you leave out the 2nd iron blanket or maybe you only dip leaves in iron. Sorry to be so obtuse but want to try this method.
    Many thanks

    1. I do not dip the pre-printed fabric in iron. I do use an iron blanket (probably since it’s my favourite method) but it could also be interesting with just leaves dipped in iron! Or a combination! Hmmm, worth another try! Whatever happens… it’s magic!

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