Eco Prints on Paper: Leaves out of the Freezer!

Can one print successfully with dried or frozen leaves?  Dye tradition says that certain dried plant materials will colour fabric, and India Flint documents successful colour extraction from frozen flowers.   

For winter natural dyeing here in Canadian Zone 4 (Ottawa) , I have been drying plant materials and putting others in the freezer, particularly those  that have worked nicely for my recent eco prints. This time I tried printing some of the frozen leaves on paper.

I used two kinds of paper, watercolour 140 lb (Canson) and my own handmade embossed papers.

Handmade paper (20 mins in alum water before steaming)


Eco print on handmade, embossed paper: Sweet Gum
Eco print on handmade, hot-glue- and lace-embossed paper: Sweet Gum and Chokecherry
Collection of leaves, eco-printed on handmade, embossed papers. Yes, strange smudges of purple emerged..
Sweet Gum on hot-glue- and lace-embossed handmade papers, from the other side.
Eco prints on water colour paper ( with a quick pre-soak in alum water)
Two sheets of paper enclosed a collection of leaves; sets of these were stacked , weighted down with bricks and steamed in a turkey roaster:


Eco printed Japanese Maple, previously frozen.
Eco printed Cotinus Coggygria (Smokebush), previously frozen.
Eco printed Chokecherry, previously frozen.
Eco printed alder leaves, previously frozen.
Collection of eco printed leaves, previously frozen.
Eco printed Ginkgo leaves, previously frozen.
Details from the watercolour paper eco prints:
Japanese Maple and Sweet Gum eco prints
Japanese Maple  eco print- blue!
Blues: Cotinus and Japanese Maple eco prints
Japanese Maple
Honour Roll for this post
Cassandra Tondro: Check out her image tutorial on the process of extracting natural colours from leaves onto paper ( and some fabric). She asks on her blog :”What can I do with all these things I have printed?”
Note on alum: I understand that alum is used in the making of watercolour paper. Would explain why the colours seem to take so much better on watercolour paper than on my handmade stuff?  I did not soak the papers very long, maybe 20 mins while assembling the project.
Next post: Frozen leaves eco printed on silk -wool panels. What worked on cotton rag paper …. 
Sorry about the clunky editing…

4 thoughts on “Eco Prints on Paper: Leaves out of the Freezer!

    1. Thanks, Julie in Wales! I learned about embossing in printmaking/papermaking courses.Our prof had us make designs with hot glue gun trails.I used thin pellon (freudenberg) as my substrate as well as a felt when pulling a print. Of course, lace, weavings, raffia, etc etc came soon after as paper embossing agents for the texture-mad fibre artist…

  1. I know this has been many years since you asked the question. but good watercolor paper cotton in it and alum is a mordant for cellulose. so I speculate that could be the reason. another reason is the coating that is on some papers. the chemical attraction gives the dye a place to attach. but purely it is speculation. beautiful work.

    1. I think you are right, Janey! It is the alum that helps fix the print. In addition, sometimes calcium carbonate may be in there and that is helpful, too.

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