Leaf Prints

Recently I was inspired by India Flint’s book “Eco Colour” to experiment with leaf prints. India’s book contains a wealth of ideas and is full of beautiful images of her printed fabrics. This fascinating technique has become very popular among dyers and can have really lovely results.

I collected some leaves from my garden, mainly from a eucalyptus tree and a Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum), and used cotton and silk fabrics mordanted with alum. (I decided to pre-mordant the fabrics to improve the fastness of the colours.) I placed the leaves on the wetted cotton fabric, added a few rusty nails, put the silk fabric on top of the cotton fabric and then carefully folded the fabrics into a bundle, which I tied with string. I decided to put this bundle into the compost bin my husband uses for grass clippings, as it can get quite hot in there and this therefore seemed a useful way of setting the dyes.  After four days, I removed the bundle to reveal the results below. Now I need to do some light- and wash-fastness tests to see how fast the colours achieved from this method will be.

The first photo shows a section of the cotton fabric and the second photo shows a section of the silk fabric.



8 Responses to “Leaf Prints”

  1. Debbie says:

    These are lovely, Jenny. Was there any colour transfer from the compost or did you put the fabric in a bag first?

    • jennydean.co.uk says:

      I didn’t put the fabric bundle into a bag before putting it into the grass compost bin. (I think part of the idea is that the compost might contribute to the overall effect.) There were one or two spots of colour that may have come from the grass clippings.

  2. Caroline says:

    This looks fascinating! Could you let us know what the fabric looks after your light- and wash-fastness tests?

  3. velma says:

    it will be interesting to see what your dyefastness tests say. will you wait a bit as india suggests? 

  4. Shannon says:

    this is amazing! i want to try this. however, i do not have a compost i wonder what else i could use? i wonder if the trash bin for my yard waste might get hot enough?

    • jennydean.co.uk says:

      I don’t think the bundles need to be kept warm – I just thought heat would speed up the process. India’s instructions indicate that the bundles should be left for as long as possible before being opened & the longer they are left, the better. (Weeks & months, rather than days.)The other important thing is to make sure the fabric is nice & damp when the bundles are made – either by using a spray mister or by wetting them out & then squeezing out the excess water. (I did the latter) I would also advise the use of pre-mordanted fabric, as this will give the colours a better degree of fastness. Good luck anyway!