Eco-Prints Make Art

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I’ve been experimenting with eco-printing using plants, flowers, and leaves since March. It’s now October and I’m still so interested in the ever-changing results in steaming plant material onto paper. I also experiment with cyanotype process and rusting paper.

Here’s the link to my eco-printing process.

Pile of cyanotype, rusted, and eco-printed papers ready to be turned into original pieces of art by artist Carol Ann Webster

The totally organic, surprise element of eco-printing is exactly what I am searching for in my work. I’m never sure how the process will turn out or how will the colors show up. I can’t predict exactly how the plants will interact with each other and the paper.

The variables are endless:

  • What’s the season? New growth or are the leaves falling?

  • Have the plants gotten plenty of moisture?

  • Are the plants young or are they mature?

  • Some plants don’t have much pigment to release and some are full of pigment. The time of year also affects the amount of color that can be released.

  • Will the color of a plant underneath a sheet of paper affect the color of the one on top?

Through several months of experimentation, I’ve amassed a box full of eco-printed papers.

I don’t want to just keep this box of papers in the closet. I want to make something out of the papers.

I have a craft show next month and I’ll have some items made that I can sell as art, holiday gifts or decorative objects. And some papers will be made into greeting cards.

mantle with finished art artist Carol Ann Webster.jpg


In this tutorial, I’m sharing how to start with eco-printed paper and end up with a piece of original art.

My plan is to glue down an eco-printed piece to a cradled wood panel and embellish it with watercolor.

I like to use 4 inch x 4 inch and 6 inch x 6 inch panels. I have another tutorial here about mounting on canvas, but the process is similar.

wood cradled board.jpg

I like to stain the sides of the cradled board and finish it with wax.

Ecoprint before mounting on cradled board artist Carol Ann Webster
Using a mask to find the focus area artist Carol Ann Webster

I begin with my eco-print straight from the drying rack. I’m using a “magic window” piece of cardboard to focus on the best part of the print. I’m marking the corners so I know where to tear the paper down for the 4 inch x 4 inch board it will be mounted on.

Tearing the paper to fit on the board artist Carol Ann Webster
Golden Matte Medium used as adhesive artist Carol Ann Webster
Apply Golden Matte Medium to board and back of paper artist Carol Ann Webster

I like to use Golden Matte Medium to glue the paper to the unfinished wood cradled board. I put medium on both the back of the paper and the wood.

Use a brayer to press down paper on board artist Carol Ann Webster

Using a brayer, I push out any air bubbles. I use as much pressure with the brayer as I can to push the medium into both the paper and the wood.

When you do this, make sure to focus medium and pressure on the corners.

Brusho Crystals and mini mister artist Carol Ann Webster

When it’s dry, it’s time for embellishing! My new favorite tools for this are Brusho Crystals which are watercolor crystals and a Mini Mister.

Watercolors are perfect for adding color to these eco-prints. I used a soft, printmaking paper for the eco-prints. When it’s dampened with the mist from the mini mister, watercolors run and blur just like the plant colors did in the steaming process. The technique looks like it was part of the original process.

Brusho crystals with push pin in lid artist Carol Ann Webster

A great tip I learned from the guy at Porch School & Art Supply in Oklahoma City, which is where I bought my Brusho crystals, is to use a push pin and poke a hole in the lid. This makes the container into a “crystal shaker”. Then put the pin back into the hole to close it up.

I use the lid from a yogurt container as a watercolor palette.

I’m adding watercolor to my ecoprint using watercolor artist Carol Ann Webster

I add just enough Brusho crystals and water to make watercolor. I paint it on the eco-print to strengthen the color that is already there naturally.

I let the paper dry before I sprinkle the crystals.

Torn paper mask

Now I get to do the fun part! Sprinkling on the Brusho Crystals; a tiny touch but one that brings great personality to my eco-prints.

I make a mask from a piece of scrap copy paper. I tear a hole in it about the size of the area where the crystals will be added.

Then I sprinkle the dry crystals on the dry print.

Sprinkle Brusho crystals through mask artist Carol Ann Webster

The mask keeps the crystals from getting anywhere they wouldn’t look natural.

Brusho crystals on eco-print

Just a little Brusho goes a long way. What I love about these watercolor crystals is that there are several individual colors in each container. When water is added they all run together to get the color on the label, like Moss Green. Each crystal might add blue or yellow or orange. You won’t know until you mist them with the Mini Mister.

Have a paper towel on hand when you mist because they will run if you add too much water. A little water goes a long way.

Misting Brusho crystals
Watercolor crystals misted with water artist Carol Ann Webster

They look a little like fireworks, don’t they? I love the sparkle of color.

Finished embellished eco-print with watercolor

This is the finished look. I’ll seal the surface of the print with either Golden Soft Gel Matte or resin.

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Make Art Using Eco-Printed Papers
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