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What is "Eco Printing"

Eco Printing is a process that has been gaining popularity in recent years.  After all, look around and there are plants and trees everywhere. Beautiful and artful prints can be made with the simplest of materials.  But actually, what is Eco Printing?  It is a process of placing tannin rich leaves onto fabric or paper, the use of iron sulfate and exposing to pressure and heat.  The tannin in the leaves meets up with the iron and a print or image of that leaf is left behind.  

There are a variety to techniques within the Eco Printing process but the fundamentals are simple and pure.  This process is fun and easy because there is no mordants needed for the fabric or paper.  Protein fabrics such as wool and silk are best suited for this process while cellulose fabrics such as cotton and linen are better suited for Botanical Printing.

But what is Botanical Printing?  The process is similar to Eco Printing, but natural dyes and a pre mordanting process is added.  A broader range of fabrics and plant material are used with the addition of natural color.  The techniques of Botanical Printing are broad and easily adapted to the region in which you live.  Not all plants are tannin rich and Botanical Printing is a way to achieve beautiful imagery. 

When using the natural dye processes with your Botanical Printing, it is important to mordant the fabrics.  Knowing which fabric type and the method used is very important.  Actually, the mordanting process is the most important step.  Once mordanting has taken place, then any of the natural dyes will attach to the fabrics.  Botanical Printing can then take place once the fabric is dyed.  However other printing techniques can be applied when using natural dye.




Guest Author: My name is Kathy Hays and over the past 7 years I have written several online courses and shorter tutorials about the Eco Printing and Botanical Printing process. All courses are video based with downloadable documents. I am a lifelong textile artist who once used synthetic dyes but has made the switch to natural dyes. I have taught in person workshops around the United States but primarily at the local art center in Florida. I have enjoyed garment construction and surface design on cloth for many years. With these combined interests I enjoy teaching as well. Passing my knowledge onto others is rewarding. I truly enjoy each person’s happy smile of success. Join Me at:,
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