Learning how to make imprints with tropical leaves

After many weeks of hard work and no fun, last Sunday I decided to pamper myself a little. So, I enrolled in an introductory course on how to do eco-printing. For those that have no idea of what this is (like me prior to the course), ecoprinting is a technique to imprint leaves into different fabrics. 

I thought that it would be fun to do something with my hands. Not to mention that it is a super nice way to learn a bit more about the tropical plants of Costa Rica. 

My, it was SUCH a nice experience!! 

We started by walking around the garden, selecting leaves that work well for imprinting. We collected around a dozen different leaves (and some flowers). Many of them are medicinal or aromatic plants. 

Back in the studio, we started by testing how different leaves imprint on silk or cotton, using the same binder (iron sulfate). We also tested how the two sides of the leave had a different imprint. We then prepared the two fabrics with the iron sulfate and placed the leaves on the cloth. Then we rolled it very tightly using bamboo and wrap it with medical elastic band (of the sort that is used at the vet). The wrap was ready to be steamed. 

After 45 minutes in a special pressure cooker, I could check my first eco-print. It was super interesting to see how different leaves imprinted in different colors and how the upper and lower side of the leaf gave such a different imprint. 

Imprint on a silk cloth, with iron mordate

Our next task was to choose those leaves that we liked most and work on a composition, taking into account colors, shapes and front & back. 

We learned how to make imprints (1) with a barrier – basically a plastic bag that prevents the imprint to be soaked by the cloth time and again while you roll it -, (2) without the barrier, which are called ghost imprints, (3) mirror imprints – where one places the leaves in just one side of the fabric and folds it- and (4) imprints with blankets. I leave you some photos of the preps and the results of the different types of imprints. 

Last, we had a teaser combining natural tannin (in this case one home made with the flower of the banana) with the blanket techniques. In this later exercise we added a leaf (the coral leaf) that does not imprint but that “resists” the imprint – this means that it becomes like a negative, with the tannin surrounding the shape. The results were absolutely amazing. 

I left the studio almost 6 hours later walking on my tiptoes and with a package of my first batch of eco-prints. I enjoyed it thoroughly!

I guess that it is the magic combination of doing something with nature, doing something with my hands, doing something with my brain (learning the leaves, figuring out how they react to the different imprinting techniques) and, why not, having an almost immediate (and beautiful) outcome from the job. So rewarding!

This may be the start of a loving hobby!!.

My favourite? The blanket print with the red dried chica leaves and guayaba leaves.

It is going to be our first wall decoration! 😉

PS. And for those that would like to learn the magic of ecoprinting in Costa Rica, here is the contact info of Gaia Prints, who organized this amazing course:

Website: https://www.facebook.com/gaiaprintscr/

Email: gaiaprintscr@gmail.com

4 thoughts on “Learning how to make imprints with tropical leaves

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