Multiple Eco Print Effects

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!

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  1. Thank you Barb for generously sharing your eco printing processes and successes! They are very inspirational. Your information has helped me begin this extremely fun and satisfying craft. I love that there is an outside way to heat bundles with steam or by boiling, and an inside microwave method. I have used both with some successes, thanks to you and some other generous people.

    It seems that not many people with your eco printing knowledge and experience are willing to share their methods unless one enrolls in a workshop halfway around the world. Thank you for making this craft accessible to all of us!

  2. Success today !! I used ferrous sulfate instead of my diy iron water. I used scarves that had Been less than successful and gathered Loropetalum leaves and red maple from my neighbor. Maple trees are not abundant in Texas so I am experimenting with other leaves. Now I know what you mean by “iron blanket “ magic. The Loropetalum leaves were a hit. Now it is time to install a utility sink in the garage and set up my work shop. I am hooked ! Thanks for all the advise .

  3. Thanks barb for all your helpful information, My friend Megan and I have become ecoholics and are really enjoying the journey. I have just bought some myobalan and tried it for the first time today but not such a success at this stage. Anyway I’ll keep trying!
    Also bought some cochineal and did a silk scarf which is still wrapped up. Dying to see what is will reveal in the morning. Anyway thanks again for giving us something exciting during these awful covid times.

  4. Hi Barb,
    Enjoying your site. I just wanted to mention that when I ecoprint, I bundle it up as you do, then put it all into another used plastic bag. Then I throw it in the top rack of my dishwasher when it’s full. We usually run it when we go to bed, so it gets a nice long steam. It works really well. Just wanted to mention another option.

    1. Oh right!!! I remember people would cook fish in the dishwasher! I can just hear it now, hubby; ‘what the heck is in the dishwasher?!’ As before it was ‘what’s cooking?!’ Do you ever just do a whole bunch of bundles. I have a new energy efficient one and the cycles are crazy long like 3 hours! Will try!

  5. “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.” Please explain. For the second round is it the leaves or the blanket that you are avoiding an entire dip? What do you mean “avoid an entire dip? Thanks.

    1. It’s the original fabric that I am avoiding to dip. You can go with dips leaves or iron blanket as each is not a ‘full’ use of iron. If you take before, during and after photos then you can see what reactions happened and where. I always intend to do that but get caught up and rush through…