Eco-Printing, Echo-Printing


I’ve spent a lot of time this fall learning about eco-printing as if my life depends on it. My creative life does depend on this re-enchantment. I know it’s a luxury to set aside my to-do list, and play with leaves and berries and acorns, copper/tin/brass in an old aluminum roasting pan in the backyard, like some happy wood sprite.

What is so magical about this process of bundling natural elements into cloth and adding moisture and heat to create imprints?


The echo of a maple leaf is thrilling, captured in an organic array of bronze, copper, tin, gold tones: it has given its design in a collaboration.

We artists all know that, try as we might, we cannot ever capture colors as perfect as those seen in nature; we cannot ever create compositions as perfectly balanced as the scattering of fallen leaves on any sidewalk or the soft ghostly imprints of leaves on the sidewalk.


But with eco-printing we partner with nature to coax the contours, tones, textures and compositions; we know that in subtle ways the resulting chance alchemy will be superior to any deliberate effort on our part to mimic nature. We assist, we experiment — knowing that so many factors will influence the outcome.

There are many people who will look at eco-prints and think “hmm, smudged fabric.” And this is OK. There are the few for which these marks are almost spiritual: a kind of message, a whisper from nature in a language we are inclined to comprehend, if not master; and for which we’re so grateful.

We each have our talents and our gifts, and legacies we leave for those we love. I hope that my delight in creating in collaboration with the natural world, and continual re-enchantment with life will bless others.

I thank these artists for their inspiration and generosity in sharing about their eco-printing work and process: Lena Thynell, Nicola Brown, India Flint.


Published in: on October 28, 2014 at 6:06 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Beautiful!!! Thank you for sharing these. Which resorces would you recommend for learning more about eco printing?

    Thanks much,

    • Hi Jill, Thank you for you encouragement! I would suggest anything by India Flint — her blog, “Prophet of Bloom,” and any other info online, as well as her books —
      “Eco-Printing” and “Second Skin.” Her little books, available on Blurb online, are lovely, too — little treasures. She does not offer recipes, more like a magical mystery tour of eco-printing and eco-dyeing. Reading “Second Skin” is life-changing… I am hoping that Nicola Brown (“Clasheen”) will write a book about her eco-printing process; for now, her online facebook page or any other info related to her new eco-printed work is inspirational; her writings are wonderful. The most important info is to know about any element you’re using; be sure it is not toxic in any of its forms, and work mindfully. Depending on where you live, there are sure to be lots of local leaves or even foods you can use. Right now, I have onion skins, red cabbage and beets in my fridge, as well as some frozen elderberries, that I’m looking forward to working with in the coming weeks; and the Japanese maple in front of our kitchen window is just turning scarlet, so I’ll enjoy using those leaves. I collected a windfall of gingko leaves yesterday, but I need to research about them to be sure they do not exude anything toxic in a dye bath or if bundled. I’m still very much a beginner. There’s a wealth of info online as folks share their process. Enjoy this magical process!

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