The Surprisingly Easy Way to Make Your Own Botanical Prints

3 Materials
30 Minutes

Today I want to show you how to make botanical prints almost instantly. They are easy to make from greenery and flowers in your garden or even items you have around your home.

This post was transcribed by a member of the Hometalk editorial team from the original HometalkTV episode.

Gel press printing plate and paint

To start off, I needed my gel press printing plate. It's like a huge lump of jelly. They don't look green when they come, they start off clear but mine is well used.  

Variety of greenery to be used to make botanical prints

I also had a collection of greenery from my garden. I used some leaves, grass, horse tail, and a variety of other little plants and flowers.  

Blobs of blue paint on a gel press printing plate

Blue botanical print on paper

1. Squeeze paint onto the printing press

To make my DIY leaf prints, I first added some blue paint to the center of the plate. You don't need a lot. When you first start doing this, you will likely use too much. I think everybody does to start with but you really don't need a lot.  

Using a brayer to spread the blue paint over the gel press printing plate

2. Use a brayer to spread the paint

Then I moved the paint around with my brayer. Just move the paint all over the plate lifting the brayer up as you go. It's as simple as that.  

Arranging greenery on a gel press printing plate painted blue

3. Arrange greenery

Next, I took some of my greenery; some grass, a leaf, a flower, and some of the horsetail, and laid them over the blue paint. 

How do you use gel press printing plates

4. Place paper over the greenery while applying pressure

Once they were all in place, I took a piece of regular printer copy paper, laid it on top, and pressed fairly hard all over the paper. I wanted to remove as much of the blue paint as I could.  

Revealing the negative image of the printed greenery and flowers

5. Peel the paper off of the printing plate

After pressing it firmly all over, I peeled the paper up and then removed the greenery from the plate.  

Placing flowers onto a gel press printing plate

You will see that it left an imprint of the leaves and the flowers. I left it to dry for a few minutes.  

Acrylic paint to be used for printing

6. Add a lighter shade of paint to the printing plate

Once the paint on the gel plate was dry, I wanted to pull off a print. To do that, I needed to add some more paint to reactivate the blue and remove it so I added a little paint in a softer color,  

Using a brayer to spread out the paint

7. Spread the paint over the printing plate

I worked it onto my plate using my brayer again. Make sure this layer is quite thin and fine.  

Smoothing paper over the paint and greenery

8. Lay a fresh piece of paper over the paint

Then, I laid another piece of paper on top and smoothed it out again making sure it made contact with the whole plate.  

Checking to see if the printing technique has worked correctly

You can have a little peak to see if it's working.  

Fine details of greenery captured from the printing method

9. Peel the paper off the plate

Once I knew it had worked, I started at the top and peeled my paper off. Look at all the fine details in this grass and the veining on the leaves. They are so pretty!  

A dollop of yellow paint on a gel press printing plate

Yellow botanical print on paper

Now I wanted to make another one so that I would have a pair.

1. Add paint to the gel press printing plate

This time I started with yellow first and used my brayer to spread the paint all over the surface of the printing plate.

Corrugated board

2. Lay textured cardboard over the paint

To give this one a little texture, I laid a piece of cardboard that had a wavy pattern on it into the paint and pressed it down.  

Laying paper over a gel press printing plate

3. Remove excess paint

Next, I wanted to remove a little of the paint so laid down another layer of paper and pressed it all over.  

Red paint on a gel press printing plate

4. Add a second layer of paint

I added a little red paint after I removed the paper. 

Removing paper from the gel press printing plate with greenery and plants

5. Arrange plants and press paper onto the printing plate

Taking a piece of fern and a dead flower, I laid them in the paint, and then laid a piece of paper over them and pressed it all over. Once I peeled the paper up, it created a negative image that was quite pretty in and of itself.  

Smoothing paint out onto a gel press printing plate with a brayer

6. Add a lighter paint color

Next, I added a layer of my unbleached titanium again and smoothed it out with my brayer. 

How to do leaf printing

7. Lay a piece of paper over the paint

I laid the final piece of paper on top and smoothed it out to make my leaf print.  

How to make botanical prints

Botanical print in a frame

The surprisingly easy way to make your own authentic botanical prints

Here are my new botanical prints framed. The detail is amazing and it hardly took any time at all to make them. I hope you liked this project on how to make leaf prints with paint.

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Julie McDowell - Design Artist
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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