Eco Dyed Paper

This is a technique I came across a couple of years ago and something I love to do. It is great for creating really interesting papers that I add into the journals that I make. You can go out foraging for leaves and flowers to use or if you have been bought a beautiful bunch you can use those once they start to fade a little. 

What is it?

Eco dyeing is the process of extracting the pigments from plants, leaves and flowers to create prints on paper or fabric. This is done by enclosing the plants in textiles or paper, bundled by winding over rods or stacked in layers and then steaming or immersing them in hot water.

What Do I need?

When I was researching it there seemed to be various methods but this is the way I do it. The equipment needed is quite simple:

  • A large saucepan
  • Mixed media or watercolour paper
  • String
  • Leaves and flowers
  • Alum powder (Potassium aluminum sulfate, this is the mordant used. It improves light and wash fastness of all natural dyes and keeps colours clear. It is inexpensive and safe to use)
  • Tea bags
  • Onion skins (optional)
  • Heavy stone
  • Water

The Process

Once you have your equipment all you need to do is to cut and fold your paper to ensure that once folded they will fit in your pan. Then start to lay flowers and leaves between the folds and start stacking the papers on top of each other until you have a thick sandwich of paper, leaves and flowers. Grab your string and tightly bind your bundle together. 

Adding onion skins between the layers will produce more colour. Yellow skins for yellow, red for a pink colour. But this is optional, the leaves and flowers will have their own colours but they won’t be what you expect. A pink flower for instance once dyed will turn out green and yellow. It is one of the reasons I love it, because you never know quite how it will turn out and it is different each time.

Add your bundle to the pan with some water and a couple of teaspoons of alum powder. Add a couple of tea bags for added colour. Weigh down your bundle with the stone and bring to the boil. Once boiling turn down to a low simmer and leave for an hour.

Drain and leave to cool then you are ready to unwrap and reveal the results!

Once dry your pages are ready to use in whatever project you choose!

It’s an easy process and the results are amazing. I highly recommend giving it a try 🙂

Love LIsa