Friday, January 20, 2023


Examples of eco-printing on paper

Are you a saver like me? I don't mean just saving money. Do you have the impulse to save something that you like too much? Maybe a sweater or a pair of shoes?

Do you ever buy a piece of clothing, hang it in your closet, consider wearing it, only to hang it back up after you decide it's too good to wear for whatever occasion you are preparing for? I have a couple of such items in my closet. They may get worn eventually or my shape will change, so they no longer fit. But they sure looked good in my closet. I wonder about the logic of my thinking. Why did I buy it in the first place if I just wanted to save it?

This savings attitude affects my use of art supplies and projects too. Recently, I purchased two composition rulers designed by Nico Ng. They arrived in such a beautiful package that each time I went to open the envelopes containing the rulers, I set them aside. But what a treat to look at.

Lettering on the packaging for
composition rulers
by Nico Ng & Lindsay Bugbee 

The composition rulers are good lettering tools. You can make curved banners with lettering to fit the curves, which is not an easy process otherwise. I finally opened the envelopes to remove the rulers and I am now experimenting with different ways to design with the rulers.

I have friends who have stacks of fabric ready for use with the "perfect project." Anyone with a love of color, texture or patterns will likely find themselves squirreling away pieces of fabric for another day.

After taking a technique class in eco-printing, which creates naturally dyed papers using leaves and flowers, I ended up with a wonderful stack of papers that I can use for either book arts or mixed media pieces. The eco-printing process involves layering natural objects between sheets of paper, simmering them in a bath of water, vinegar, and rusty elements, and letting them dry. Both sides of the paper pick up the imprints of the natural objects with extraordinary and beautiful detail. 

Every time I think to use the paper, I ruffle through the stack and discover once again how beautiful they are. Which side to choose? Where do I cut the paper without losing the interesting textures and patterns created by the natural elements? 

 Finally, I dug out my two cardboard corners and laid them in various positions on one of the papers. This method helped me find designs that stood out and could be used for the endpapers of books, for book covers, or for framing as a print.

Possible designs found on one sheet of paper

Like magic, I could finally cut through the paper as long as I didn't look on the other side!

The other side

Learn how to do calligraphy or order the composition rulers:

Clear directions for eco-printing on paper:


  1. I have a pair of white buck shoes I bought in 1963. They are so easily messed up when I wear them I seem to convince myself it isn't worth the risk every time an occasion comes up. What exactly I am saving them for?

    1. White Buck Shoes from 1963! That's beats any story I've ever heard. Thanks, Gary, for a good chuckle today.

  2. From: Eileen by FB: Enjoyed this..don't get me started on some garments living in my wardrobe. I don't buy many, but still manage to create more historic pieces, never ready for the very occasion. ..and storing nice papers, fabrics, wrappings

  3. From Jane on FB: Those eco-prints are gorgeous! I totally get why you don't want to cut them!!

  4. From Letty by email: My sister can relate to your clothes closet. I will go with the Eco printing that looks like a genuine, absolutely gorgeous idea for art for that matter, save that paper, knowing your artistic skills you will find uses for them beyond the imagination.
    I hope the sun is shining for you today Martha.

    1. Letty, The sun is bright and warm today. Whoopee! And yes, one of these days I will find a good use for these papers. Thanks for your comments!

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  6. From Mary by email: That looks like such a fun technique with beautiful, natural results. I sooo understand your desire to save and not wear something or cut into the fabric and paper. I remember doing that as a child with a toy nursing set I received that had candy pills. By the time I finally ate a pill it was stale and gross. Aren’t we funny beings.

    1. Funny story, Mary. We are strange, aren't we? Eco-printing works beautifully on fabrics too.

  7. From Cheryl by email: You know I am not a saver. HOWEVER, your finished projects of leaves are AMAZING and you could easily sell them! LOVE WHAT YOU DO!

    1. Thank you, Cheryl, for your comments today.
      The one big difference between us! Savers/non-savers.


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