Eco Prints with Eucalyptus on Paper, Silk and Wool

I had heard that sometimes soaking eucalytpus leaves for a while before printing can help to release the colours into the paper or textile, so over the busy-busy-busy Christmas holidays I left  some plant material to soak  in water in separate containers until the Twelve Days were up.

After soaking, the leaves looked like this: (Starting at top left): 1. Seeded Eucalyptus , larger oval leaf 2. Seeded Eucalyptus, smaller oval leaf 3. Israeli Eucalyptus (variety TBD) 4. Silver Dollar Eucalyptus (rounded leaf) 5. Baby Blue (centre) Eucalyptus

              Each kind of eucalyptus (with bits of bark, too) was sandwiched between two sheets of watercolour paper and stacked for steaming as usual. The “What If..???” for this session was to insert some silk chiffon (see later) in between the papers, to trap the leaves and stalks and to catch some colour.

I liked the print made by the stalks, as well as the range of colours.

Note the colour variation on the Seeded Eucalyptus: large oval leaves gave chartreusey yellow; smaller ones gave bright red orange, as did the seeds and stalks. The brown blotchy parts are from some aby Blue that began to slime up and compost in the water. The soaking seemed to coax more orange-reds out of the seeded eucalyptus on to paper.

Browns, tans and sagey greens from this variety (TBD) collected as both fresh and dry specimens from a park in Tel Aviv. Now this lot was not pre-soaked for I received it as a gift on New Year’s Day only.

OOO, Eye Candy! The sunny yellow eco print on paper from this variety (E. Globulus?) is pretty much the same intense colour as the one obtained on silks and wool (see pics below) without prior soaking but with longer cooking.

Baby Blue Eucalyptus eco prints (like strings of rounded fruits) on handwoven wild silk dupioni (lots of slubby texture), modified with iron liquor (rusty nails in vinegar) to shift the yellows and red-browns to greens and greys. Some  Seeded Euc is on the left. The panel has the feel of an oriental scroll –  I look forward to stitching this one.

The semi-transparent silk chiffon pieces that were  sandwiched between plants and papers are layered here for a painterly look. I am planning to stitch them in to some woollen pre-felt to create a new textile  from ecoprinted fragments layered over  wool.

Last fall, Baby Blue E. (no pre-soaking) gave bright yellow on wool jersey in an eco bundle with Black Walnut (brown).

More Fall 2011 prints: Silver Dollar E. (not pre-soaked) gave yellows on silk charmeuse (centre), and golds, oranges, and orange-reds on silk-wool blends. 

  For Seeded E., a shortish steaming (two and a half hours) brought orange-reds on both paper and silk when the plant material was pre-soaked; and chartreuses whatever process was adopted. Steaming for as long as four hours (and certainly not less than two) , seems to bring out the orange -reds in Seeeded, Silver Dollar and Baby Blue E., at least in my practice so far. 

Next posts

1. Some more updates to my Dye Plants page. In January, month of snows, what better way to brighten  dark, late afternoons than look at the images of a summer garden?

2.  I have broken down and bought some Couleur de Plantes natural dye extracts from Maiwa in Vancouver…I could no longer contain my curiosity about madder, logwood, etc etc. Can’t wait to see how – or IF! – they will work with  my  usual dye stuffs in the next collection of eco prints on silk habotai.

Happy New Year, Bonne Annee 2012!



About wendyfe

I am a fibre artist working in mixed media textiles with a focus on vintage cloth reworked with stitching, natural dyeing, eco printing and rust printing . My work can be seen at
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5 Responses to Eco Prints with Eucalyptus on Paper, Silk and Wool

  1. jean tate says:

    Wendy, i’m interested in eco printing onto fabric. ?natural fabric – silk, cotton, wool? do i need to pre-soak the fabric? in/with what?
    regards jean

    • wendyfe says:

      Hi Jean,

      A good place to begin learning is to check out my tutorial tab on the blog. Then follow specific links in the “cloud”‘of tags e.g. Eco printing on silk, mordants, the plants to use, etc. Lots for you to read up on.

  2. Hi Wendy, I am very new to eco printing, and I am wondering how long you cooked the papers with the leaves. Thanks.

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