Eco-printing on paper video tutorial

This video gives step-by-step instructions for eco-printing on paper using a rusty can. I love this method because it is easy to get interesting prints with most types of paper and leaves, although I have used some of my favourites for this demonstration.

This is one of the methods I share in my eco-printing on paper ebook, Plant Poetry, along with lots of information about plants, papers and bundling techniques to try.

If you just want to watch a quick preview of the whole process, check out this short video:

I hope that this inspires you to get creative with the plants around you. Have fun experimenting!

44 thoughts on “Eco-printing on paper video tutorial”

  1. A great clip. Everything was clearly explained and easy to follow. I loved the results. I would love to see more clips from you on eco dyeing. Thanks for sharing👏❤️

        1. This is Arches watercolour paper. I often use these to make cards or to cover small journals or to draw over.

      1. Yes, but you need to prepare the fabric with a mordant or binder first to help the colour bond, and so it will last through washing. We use rusty cans for a few lessons in my Living Colour eco-printing ecourse.

  2. Rebecca Washbrook

    Please could you explain how you size the paper with gelatine? Is this an Art gelatine or a normal food dissolvable one that you then pain on the watercolour paper and leave to dry?
    Many thanks, inspiring tutorial with clear instructions. Many thanks Becky

    1. Hi Becky. The paper I used (Arches brand) is sized with gelatine in the manufacturing process, so I didn’t do it myself. I have seen some people use ordinary food grade gelatine on paper and I’ve occasionally used soymilk which creates a similar effect- just soak the paper in a diluted liquid of either. I’ve got some instructions and photos about using soymilk in my eco-printing on paper ebook if you are interested. But the gelatine sizing is optional and you can also use other types of paper.

      1. Rebecca Washbrook

        That is such a great help, thank you very much for your time. I would be really interested in the soya milk method as I try to be as chemical free as I can after my past diagnosis of breast cancer. I will buy & download your book. I live in England UK so I presume the download etc will work? Many thanks again Becky

        1. Yes, the ebooks are available worldwide and can be downloaded immediately after purchase. Thank you, and enjoy!

  3. Does the paper “warp” or wrinkle or curl as it drys? If so, what do you do?
    Also, how are you using the finished strips?
    Thank you for the video!!!

    1. It gets a little crinkled from the eco-printing process, so sometimes I iron it on a low setting- either while it is still wet, or after I gently mist it with water. I mostly use the strips to make little cards but they can also be used as artwork backgrounds or for journalling or collaging.

  4. I purchased a pad of 140lb cold pressed paper, but it isn’t 100%cotton. Will it still work or should I buy more expensive cotton paper? I’m going to do this with a small girl’s camp I will be doing in August. I enjoyed seeing how the paper was dyed by the different things you put in the pot. I will have the parents of my campers start saving onion skins now!
    Thank you

    1. As long as it is made from some kind of plant based material (which it should be!) then you will be able to get some colours and prints on it. You may want to do a little test before the camp, because paper can vary a lot and some will work a lot better than others.

    1. This is with Arches watercolour paper. Watercolour paper works great, but you can try any type of paper

  5. Sasha Broadstone

    Hi! Thanks for sharing your methods! I really want to do something like this, but on a large piece of water color paper (22×30). Do you think aluminum foil – if rusted first – could work in place of your aluminum cans? Since the foil is flexible I was thinking I could layer it over my paper, then roll the whole thing up tight, then curl it into a spiral to fit in my dye pot. What do you think??

        1. Yes, I cooked this one in a dye bath of onion skins to get patches of natural colour on the outside. You can also use plain water to get a different effect. I cook it for about 1 hour.

    1. Hi Sasha. Aluminium foil won’t rust, you need iron or steel for that. But what you could do is create an iron blanket by soaking a piece of cotton fabric in iron mordant (made by dissolving rusty iron in vinegar). Then you can layer this on top of the paper and leaves. You can also do this method without the rust, you will just get a different result. I use both hot press and cold press of various weights, just depending on what results I want. I have some photos comparing different papers in my ebook, Plant Poetry. It’s just a matter of personal preference if you want thin or thick paper, and if you want a smooth or rough texture, as all will work for eco-printing. I hope that helped.

  6. Sorry but I noticed that you had previously answered that question so I will ask if you prefer one or the other of the papers? Thank you!

    1. I really like the texture of cold press paper, but hot press is good for finer details in the prints. So it really depends what kind of feel you are going for.

  7. Pingback: Eco-printing on paper tutorial – Gumnut Magic

    1. Hi Janet. They are only available in digital form, sorry. But many of my customers get their copy printed professionally or print it out themselves.

  8. Fantastic video! All of the information necessary and not too much unneeded info. Clear and concise. Thank you so much for sharing making this video! I guess I do have one question-can you do that on cotton fabric? And will I need different plants then?

    1. Yes, you can do it on cotton too – we did this in my recent Iso Dye Club ecourse. For long lasting results you need to prepare the fabric with a mordant or binder, but you can still get good results without these. Generally you can use the same plants on both fabric and paper

    1. Just plain water, with the left over plant material. I know it is commonly suggested to add vinegar to the dye bath or fabric, but it doesn’t have any benefit.

    1. I don’t tend to use alum on paper, often I use plain paper or sometimes I soak it with a splash of iron mordant for a few minutes. But you could use a similar percentage of alum to what you would use for fabric.

  9. Lynda Holloway

    Thank you so very much. Have been wanting to do Eco printing for a time but did not know how to go about it. This will be a good use for all my water color paper as I am hopeless at water color. Will down load that e-book. Thank you again.

    1. I’m so glad this helped you Lynda. It’s a very fun and satisfying craft, with so many possible variables.

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