Eco Printing on Cotton

by Fiberartsy
7 Materials
12 Hours

What is Eco Printing?

The way I understand it, Eco Printing is a form of natural dyeing where the colors from plant material are transferred to paper or fabric via steaming or boiling. (If anyone out there has a better definition, by all means let me know).

SAFETY NOTE: Even tho it’s called ‘Natural Dyeing’ and ‘Eco Printing’, beware that some substances used can be very toxic.

Before you try any natural dyeing methods at home, please do your homework first.

See full step by step instructions at (link below)

I did two experiments:

For my first eco printing experiment, I used what leaves I have available in the yard: black walnut, red maple, green maple, cleome, croton and redbud. These were laid out on half of the dry silk chiffon.

I folded the other half of the chiffon over the leaves and rolled the whole thing, very tightly onto a piece of pvc pipe. You can use a dowel, stick or even a piece of pipe for this.

Next, I wrapped a cotton string around the package, again very tightly to make sure there is good contact between the fabric and the leaves for printing.

I steamed the bundle over plain water for about 1 1/2 hours. Let this cool completely and left the bundle to set overnight.

Not surprisingly, the black walnut leaves printed the best. Black walnut contains its own mordant (tannin??) and is washfast and colorfast.

My second printing experiment turned out much better!

Instead of silk, I used cotton flour sack towels. I also dipped the leaves in an Iron Modifier before rolling up the fabric. People sometimes call it a Mordant but in this case it’s used to “modify” the color. 

See the bottom of my blog post for how to make the Iron Modifier (link below)

As you can see, the prints are much darker and more defined.

There are many other variations to the technique as well as other modifiers you can use. Check back for my future experiments.



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