Eco-printing with maple leaves

Maple leaves are high in tannins and so are well-suited to the eco-print process. Tannins help natural dyes bond to fabric and often also impart colour. Tannin levels increase over the growing season. So maple leaves picked in autumn will print more vividly than those picked in spring.

The different sides of maple leaves produce quite different effects. I like the delicate details of the sky-facing side of the leaves:

But the earth-facing side will produce darker prints and be more colourfast:

Tannin rich maple leaves eco-printed on cotton

Before eco-printing, I soaked the maple leaves for a month to get rid of excess tannins, which bleed when combined with the iron mordant. The soaking process helps produce clear, crisp prints. Find out more about which leaves can be used for eco-printing on cotton and how to prepare them with my ebook, The Leaf Guide.



2 thoughts on “Eco-printing with maple leaves”

  1. Thank you for this information – I am from WI and collected a number of different types of maple leaves this fall. We have had a very cold winter so far and I will be mordanting fabric and will start to soak some leaves for use when the weather starts to warm up. Not so easy to obtain Gum leaves so working with maple, oak, sumac, beech and other upper Midwest plants. I really appreciate that you published your ebook on printing on cotton, it has become one of my primary reference books. Thank you

    1. It sounds like you have a great range of leaves suitable for eco-printing. I am currently writing a follow-up ebook that will cover many different plants that eco-print well. You certainly don’t need eucalyptus leaves to get beautiful prints.

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