Well hello there. How’s your week been? We’ve just got back from a two week holiday and that always seems to make my creative juices go into overdrive. I just want to paint or draw or make something 😀 So the timing of this month’s Int’l Bloggers Club challenge was just perfect. It’s all about paper. And when you’re a wanna be artist like me, then a paper challenge is just so cool. There were so many things I thought of doing but at the end of the day I decided to let Mother Nature be my muse and guide me in creating some unique art. So without too much further ado let me introduce you to the wonderful world of eco prints.
Can you believe that those beautiful, random patterns in the background were all created by Mother Nature? I just sketched the safety pin in ink and now we have an original work of art to add to our gallery wall.
Well actually we have quite a few new pieces to add the our gallery wall, since there were loads of eco prints I could use. But more about that later 😉 Let me first tell you a little bit about the Int’l Bloggers Club (IBC). Every month a group of bloggers from around the world get together to create something using a common theme. Our previous challenge was pebbles, and it always fascinates me how we can all take the same thing and end up making so many different things.
This month is extra special one since we have a few new club members. So if you give me a moment I’d like to introduce them to you before we jump into the “how to” of making eco prints and turning them into art.
I’m real happy that another South African has taken up the challenge. So first up we have Ella from just Just Ella Bella. She hails from Nelson Mandela Bay and her blog will make you laugh and cry in equal doses. She shares heart warming stories about being a mom and isn’t shy to tell it like it is.
Then we have Leanna from Faeries and Fauna who lives in Edmonton, Canada. If you’re looking for ways to make your home beautiful with very little money, you’ll love the ideas she shares. From RV makeovers to quick and easy slip covers, she does it all on a very tight budget.
Just 20 minutes down the road from Leanna, in Sherwood Park, is Marie who blogs over at The Interior Frugalista. She’s the Queen of gunky, junky furniture makeovers. Seriously this lady can turn the most boring piece of furniture into something WOW and she shares the step by step instructions so you can do it too.
And then you have us old timers 😀 Katrin from Kreative K; an uber talented German lady who now lives in the South of Spain. Mary from The Boondocks Blog who recently moved from Greece to New York and Pili, a free spirit from Sweet Things in Mallorca. And then there’s little ole me from Centurion, South Africa 😉
Okay back to the challenge and how I made eco print wall art with the help of Mother Nature.
So What’s An Eco Print?
An eco print is kinda magical. It involves taking leaves, flowers, stalks or whatever bounty Mother Nature has to offer and placing them between layers of paper or fabric. Everything is wrapped up tightly and steamed or boiled to release the naturals dyes found inside the plants. The resulting prints are astonishingly beautiful and always a surprise. Apparently the earliest surviving print dates back to AD 1228 and even Leonardo experimented with eco printing.
What You Need to Make Eco Prints
This must be one of the most inexpensive things to do. All you need is a whole bunch of leaves from the garden and some artist’s watercolor paper. Look for at least a 200 g/m2 in the craft shop. It holds up better. If you can’t find watercolor paper, normal printer paper will also work. You just have to be careful so it doesn’t tear. You can even eco print on fabric if you prefer. Cotton, silk, drop cloth. It all works as long as it’s a light color.
I used ferns, rose leaves, lavender, some salvia, our beautiful indigenous Crassula pellucida, seed pods and old rusty bits to make the eco prints. You’ll also need something heavy to weigh your eco prints down, plus a big pot (not one you use for cooking) and a stove. Since one of our national sports here in South Africa is braaing (it’s like a BBQ but soooo much better 😉 ) I just got the hubby to make a big fire and used that instead of our stove top.
How to Make Eco Prints
Take your watercolor paper and fold it in half length wise. Place your leaves, stalks, flowers etc. between the fold to create an envelope, without the back flap.
Create as many as you want and don’t be scared to mix different leaves to create interesting patterns.
Place all the “leaf envelopes” one on top of the other.
Wrap them up tightly between two pieces of wood.
If you don’t have any wood off cuts you could use tiles or even chicken wire . Basically anything that helps keep the “leaf envelopes” together will work. Place your tightly bound bundle together with those rusty bits inside a pot and fill with boiling water. You may need to top up the water every now and again.
Let the mixture simmer on a hot fire or stove for at least 2 hours, before carefully removing the bundle.
Wait for it cool down for a little bit before opening it up.
Let’s see What Mother Nature Has Cooked Up For Us
This is probably the best part. The big reveal and seeing what Mother Nature has cooked up.
A fern leaf, seeds and a rusty nail or two
Slowly peel the paper layers apart and rinse them off in cold water to get rid of the plant material. Would you look at all those amazing patterns. So random and so unique.
I swear I was like a little kid going “Wow babes, look at this one” and “Oh my, I love how that turned out”. There were just so many surprises. It was really hard trying to pick a favorite……… but maybe it’s this one.
Can you see the little elf face in the bottom left corner? Maybe if I turn it around?
He looks a little cross though. I hope it’s not because I picked the leaves from his lavender bush. I’ll have to make it up to him and build him a swing or something 😀
Using Eco Prints to Make Art
Those lovely patterns can be framed as is, or your can let your creative soul take over.
One of my biggest problems as a wannabe artist is that I tend to over analyze e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. So instead of trying to think about what to draw, I let the patterns guide me and drew around them. One of the prints looked like it needed to be pinned together, hence the safety pin.
Another print resembled a hoodie, so that one became this mysterious man.
And I still have a loads more to play with. I can’t wait to see what little secrets they reveal. That’s the wonderful thing about drawing around eco prints. There’s no right or wrong, there just is 😉
And if you’d like to try something similar and explore your creative side, don’t forget to pin it for later 😉
Okay I think I need to stop now. The post ended up way longer than I intended and I would love you to see what the other ladies from the IBC have done with their paper challenge. Their links should be down there at the bottom.
Oh and before I forget. If you’re looking for some of the things I used to make the eco prints, I’ve got you covered Disclosure: Clicking on the links below, means we may receive a very small commission from Amazon. But don’t worry it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us come up with more unique DIY and craft ideas for you 😉