Eco prints with dried flowers

I like fresh flowers. During the winter, I saved roses and carnations from bouquets until I had enough to make a print. When the chuppah needed a break from me, I made another eco print from the dried blooms. I chose a fragment of dry, pre-mordanted (alum acetate) silk velvet, my first time printing this fabric. I soaked the cloth in water again and scattered dried red and yellow roses and dried deep pink carnations over the surface adding a wee branch of eucalyptus (it had been soaking in water) for the perfume plus a stick of liquorice ( a story for another day)

I rolled the bundle loosely and left it in a plastic bag in a sunny window for half an hour. Almost immediately the flowers began to give up their colours:

Pretty soon the outside of the bundle looked like this:

The inside of the bundle:

After only a short time, the colours had begun to mark the silk. It looked so promising.

Hmmm..should I leave the bundle to soak in the sun or should I apply steam heat as usual?

I tried the steam heat. After half an hour steaming, I saw that the rich pinks and reds and violets had begun to turn dark…I recalled that last summer, dried pink rose buds from a flower tea mix had dyed brown…better take it out of the heat. I let it dry then rinsed it: and most of the of the colour washed away, except for some dark red-pink and violet from red rose petals:

What next? A pot of five blue hyacinths getting dry, about ready to fade. Hyacinth flowers and leaves went in the wet bundle with more dried roses and carnations:



The hyacinth blues began to release right away, the greens from the leaves too, even before an hour’s steaming:


The back of the bundle, when opened after steaming: reds, pinks and purples from the roses, blues and turquoise from the hyacinth blooms:


Dried, rinsed and dried again:



Several dye authors recommend no heat at all for obtaining contact prints from fresh flowers, and instead, advise soaking, composting, pounding, pre-freezing or solar dyeing as processes for extracting eco printed colour. That advice might also work for some dried flowers used for eco prints. More What Ifs to come!

Next post: Depends…



5 thoughts on “Eco prints with dried flowers

  1. Have you considered not rinsing and drying between processes. In my experience, as taught by India Flint, there is little need to be “cleaning things up” and in fact the longer you leave the bundle closed the better. Once you DO open it, there longer you leave it to cure without washing, the better. Might be worth a try 🙂

    1. Yes, your suggestion is a good one and I would like to do more of it. I have actually refrained from rinsing some of my cotton and linen eco dyes. Most of the stash from last summer was not rinsed. They are stored in the dark until summer this year when I will rinse them and wash in Orvus paste or maybe olive oil soap. This was a deliberate choice because cotton and linen are known to dye in less intense shades. Last fall, after I had used up my stash of small linens, I started experimenting with silk which is reputed to take dye colours more intensely…I found this to be true and so felt comfortable rinsing for there was only some but not a lot of crocking…This spring, I plan to try compost or decomposition dyeing/contact printing1

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