The art of Eco-Printing

Eco-printing is a method of bundling leaves and other plants in fabric, and steaming the bundle(s) to print their natural pigments onto the fabric.

In eco-printing, dyeing and printing is done by using natural pigments present in flora. These pigments appear in different colours depending on the season and time of the year. This process helps the natural pigments to leave incredible details of form and colours on fabrics.

While traditional dye practices provide indispensable information and guidance for eco printing, not every colour available in a plant reveals itself in a traditional immersion dye pot.  Eco printing processes aim to use traditional dye plants in both old and new ways and to try plants not well known as dye sources.  Art, like science, reveals the invisible!

Eco-printing is a one-of-a-kind art where no two pieces can be similar. With change in season, certain flora create impressions, while others don’t.

The conditions in which the fabrics are dried, play a major role in deciding the outcome. Ample factors play a major role in deciding what eventually happens of the fabric.

First, the fabric is washed very carefully and thoroughly with soap. Then it is mordanted which means that the fabric is dyed in different colours. In this process, it is soaked in different solutions such as tea, indigo and so on. It is then spread out and is allowed to dry in the sun. Sun rays also play a major part in deciding the eventual outcome. A cloudy day may ruin the impression. Once dried, the fabric gets ready for dyeing and eco printing.

For defined leaves, the fabric is not coloured. Instead it is rolled very tightly in order to ensure that the leaves come in contact with the fibre and make sure that it is properly imprinted. We either steam or boil it for three to four hours, depending on the leaf. Boiling, results in diffused prints. The prints are more shadowy.

However, unlike other processes, eco printing is only possible on certain fabrics. Eco printing is mostly done on protein fibres and less on cellulose. On cellulose fibres, the colours appear muted. The best absorption of colours is on silk and then on wool.

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