Recent experiments eco-printing with tansy

My latest eco-print plant crush is tansy. This sweet herbaceous plant is in the Aster family, and is native to Eurasia. Tansy has deeply lobed, almost fern like leaves and dense round flowers with flat tops.

Tansy has a lot of medicinal uses in traditional western herbalism, especially for internal parasites. It can also be used to induce abortions. As you can imagine, this means it is a potent plant that should only be used medicinally by someone who understands its uses and effects. But it is only potentially toxic when ingested, so it is safe to use for eco-printing. I’m always fascinated by how many medicinal plants are also exceptional for eco-printing. Many medicinal herbs eco-print well because their therapeutic constituents, such as tannins and flavonoids, contain natural dyes.

Here is a simple eco-print of tansy on watercolour paper. The flowers and leaves both produce bright, clear prints:

Here I pre-mordanted the paper with iron, which has brought out some darker, moodier tones:

For this print, I used paper that I had already eco-printed on. I dipped the tansy in iron before putting it on the paper, which has create a dark print with a colourful background.

I never know what to do with the mountains of paper eco-prints that accumulate. Mostly I include them in orders from my Etsy store or as cards for family and friends. Lately I’ve begun saving and framing up a few special pieces:

Thanks for reading, and I hope it inspires some experiments with tansy.

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