Botanical Printing

I know there are many ways to make successful Botanical Prints.
I have posted the materials that I found to be successful and the results of some of the experiments we did this summer.
This is how we did it at my summer retreats held here at my house in July, August and September this year.
Wet your cloth. If using wool fabric, soak in hot water with a bit of Dawn dish detergent to get the wool wet.
Spray your wool with vinegar to bring out the orange of the Eucalyptus.
The vinegar is not the mordant, the iron or copper pipes are.
Place your plant material on your fabric. Try sprinkling with black walnut hulls, onion skins etc.
Look at Natural Dyeing books for ideas.
We experimented placing wool, then plant material, then silk fabric over that before rolling, sandwiching the plant material in the middle. Two fabrics done at once.
Look at the results of the experiments I did with different pipes in this blog.
Roll your fabric up tightly around the pipe of your choice and tie tightly to get those wonderful tie lines. Use different string widths, wide and narrow for interest.
If you don't want the metal to make an imprint, wrap the pipe with a paper towel or cloth.
Steam your rolled up package for 2 hours, turning every half hour or so.
If you want a light background let it cool overnight. No need to put it in the tea bath. Follow the heat setting and rinsing directions below.
If you want a brownish background make a tea of Eucalyptus bark, leaves and stems. To make the tea bring to a boil and let it sit overnight, then strain.
If you want a gray background, put some iron in your tea, iron pipes, and let it stay in the pot until you like the color. The longer you keep the iron in the pot the darker and the blacker it becomes. Remove the added pipe before adding your material.
Heat the tea again to a simmer and leave the rolled up package in the tea for about 45 minutes. We found that if you can stand to wait overnight to unveil your package the more colorful it will be.
I wait about 5 days then heat set by ironing for a few minutes with a pressing cloth before rinsing. Put about a teaspoon of baking soda in the rinse water to neutralize the iron. If you don't do that the iron will irritate your fabric and it will not last as long.

I want this to be the beginning of a forum on Botanical Printing. If you have anything to add please do so by hitting the comment button. I am excited about sharing our experiences. I'll keep you posted but please add your comments. That is what makes this so interesting.


  1. Thanks, Carin for the awesome retreat and inspiration. And for posting these easy to understand instructions. I am off to gather some botanicals and experiment.

  2. wonderful write-up! Thank you

  3. Great work Carin...enjoyed reading about eco imprinting. I'Ve been busy imprinting wool yardage, silk and cotton. It is so fun. I enjoyed taking your class years ago...Felting 'holy shawl' @tin thimble and seeing you at Fiber Fest. You can see some of my latest artful creations at KERLEY PFLUEGER.BLOGSPOT.COM

  4. That is very helpful for increasing my knowledge in this field. cartes dorure

  5. I live in the goldfields in outback Australia where we have a lot of Iron in the ground, hence the red (rust) earth. Eucalyptus leaves print very well here and I feel this is partially because of the Iron they soak up from the soil.