There's been a lot of eco printing going on at my house lately, the house seems to permanently smell of vinegar by now.
If you prefer just pictures and not a lot of chattiness, just scroll down to the bottom.
I've learned a lot, and here is a summary of what I like, don't like and a few observations:
I basically like the process, it's fun to gather leaves, flowers, various papers and assemble everything and be surprised by what comes out of the pan after the steaming process.
I tried both steaming and immersion printing and found I like steaming better. For the simple reason that it's easier with the equipment/supplies I have. When I first looked into this, two years ago, I bought a roasting pan which is meant for steaming. I cannot find the link or the instructions I must have printed out, but I'm sure that's what was recommended and I went with it. My pan is shallow, so when I add enough water to submerge my paper bundles, it almost comes up to the top of the pan. It's difficult to get everything out of the pan afterward and that's the main reason I prefer steaming.
I don't like using rusty things in the process, it makes for more grungy papers (for me, at least); not unattractive, but not what I'm after.
Adding dye to get a bit of color does not seem to work well for me. I use either too much or not enough.
I like being able to use such a wide variety of papers. Everything I've tried has worked out. The results on printed paper - book pages - are not as impressive as on plain paper, but it works. Also, and I only learned this in the last few experiments: when using thinner paper, it's quite possible that the plant imprint will transfer to the papers on top of and below the paper that's actually being printed. Could be a drawback or not, depending on what one likes.
If there's any paper I don't like as much, it's the really thick watercolor paper. I can't really think of a way to use it at this point. Everything else I can easily see going into a journal.
Flowers are tricky. You take a pretty, colorful flower and expect colorful results - and, no, red flowers do not translate into red imprints, neither does purple etc. My colorful mums ended up either brown or dark something (hard to tell, it could be blue, green, purple). Pansies don't work so well.
Anything thin, like pansies, thin leaves etc. can end up sticking almost permanently to the paper. There has been a lot of scraping things off with fingernails going on.
Dry leaves can work. I found that soaking them in water beforehand gave much better results. The same goes for bark.
Waxy leaves don't work so well. Neither do really delicate ones.
Fresh leaves, in general, work better than dry leaves.
What works best for me are maple leaves, eucalyptus leaves, hydrangea leaves and the leaves from those dreaded raspberry plants (they are like weeds around here. Don't watch for them, and your whole yard could be overrun with them.)
Alum versus vinegar - I haven't had the results I had hoped for with alum. Probably because I used more than recommended. The colors are pretty wild. I just might try that one more time, but with lots less alum in the soaking water.
I think Saturday's session may be the last one for a while. My house is overrun with wild papers by now and I signed up for an online class that requires a lot of my time.
It's been fun and a real learning experience and I am sure I'll do more of this - probably next year when there are flowers and new leaves.
Until then, here are a few pictures from my last steaming session:
I used mostly thinner papers for this session and the above are just a few of the papers that came out of my pan afterward. The rest are kind of forgettable. Splotchy with not enough definition. There is a bit of pink involved. I had scooped out the water (a rather slow and painful process) from the immersion dyeing session and saved it. After I took the papers out of the pan this time, I heated up the reserved pink water and dipped the pages into it. The results are actually quite nice.
But, as I said, this is going to be it for a while. Hope you enjoyed my little journey into eco printing, it's been fun and I am sure there will be more, just not right now.