Leaf Print Process on Silk

Hello Friends,

A couple of people have asked about the process I use to create my leaf print silk scarves, so I thought I’d share that with you today. It’s interesting because it’s a natural method that extracts color from the leaves. No inks, dyes or paints are used — just the colors from the leaves themselves.

The first step is collecting leaves. I only use fallen leaves that the trees no longer need. Not all leaves print well, and it takes some experimentation to find out which leaves will work. Generally I find that trees with deciduous leaves print well, but other leaves can also be good. Shown below are Liquidambar and London Plane leaves.

I flatten the leaves under heavy books for a day or two, then I place them on top of a damp silk scarf. Underneath the scarf is a piece of parchment paper, and below that is a piece of pima cotton. This helps prevent bleed through between the rolled up layers.

I place a seond damp scarf on top of the leaves along with another piece of parchment paper, and roll the scarves onto a stainless steel rolling pin.

The bundle is secured tightly with string, and the scarves are steamed for two hours over boiling water in a commercial roasting pan with the lid on.

I let the bundles cool overnight, and unwrap them the next day. Here’s how they look coming out of the steamer.

Each scarf is then hand washed and ironed. Here are some of the scarves I have available on my website this year.

London Plane leaves

Iron Bark Eucalyptus leaves

Flowering Plum leaves

Are you ready to try it out yourself? It’s a lot of fun to see what the leaves will do, and each scarf is different. I never know quite what to expect.

If you’re not the DIY type, you can purchase leaf print silk scarves in two different sizes from my website.

Are you making holiday gifts this year? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. You can share them with us in the comments section below.

With love and appreciation,
Cassandra

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8 Comments

  1. Hi Cassandra, It was through your tuition of eco prints that I first heard of you. Love your processes…painting too…Uniquely You. I appreciate you sharing, tho I can’t always respond…I will continue to appreciate your newsletters. However am having Cancer treatment over the next 12 months so may not keep up with everyone. I’m grateful for your inspiration…maybe I’ll get someone to make me a silk scarf for Christmas…if I loose my hair….I have a wig and two scarves purchased that will suit. Thank you for your inspirational posts…gratefully! Liz K Australia.

    1. Hi Liz. I’m so sorry to hear about your cancer diagnosis. Sending you love, light and healing energy. May the process be swift, and may you go through it with ease and grace. All my love, and I’ll be thinking of you.

  2. Hi Cassandra

    I too am about to embark on some silk leaf printing. May I ask a couple of questions please? Do you pre-treat the silk at all before printing with leaves and can you tell me which leaves work best. I don’t know where you live, but I am in the U.K. and it is VERY COLD at the moment. Your scarves look beautiful – I have done leaf printing on paper but would like to move forward using silk. Many thanks – you are an inspiration

    1. Hi Linda. Good to hear from you. I soak my silk scarves first in a diluted white vinegar solution — just a splash of vinegar to several quarts of water. Sometimes I use iron vinegar or copper vinegar — a jug of vinegar with iron nails or a piece of copper pipe that has been allowed to sit and oxidize. Just a splash of one of those in place of the white vinegar for soaking. Iron darkens the colors, and copper brightens and gives them a greenish hue.

      As for leaves that work best, I’m in California, and I’m pretty sure the leaves here are different from the leaves you have there! Leaves from deciduous trees often work well. I use eucalyptus, ironwood, sycamore, plane tree, maple, flowering plum, ash. Do you have any of those where you are?

    1. Good question, Kiran! I usually soak the scarves in water with a little added white vinegar. Sometimes I use a little iron or copper, that are made by putting iron nails or a piece of copper pipe in white vinegar, and letting it sit a long time.

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