Ecoprint is a technique invented by India Flint, as a way to decorate a surface – paper, leather, ceramic, textile – with natural imprints from leaves, flowers, barks, and other botanical material.
The keys to obtain the mark are contact and heat. The process is totally natural: even on the sidewalk under a tree you may happen upon the mark left by a leaf fallen during the night storm (contact) and baked by the sun the next day (heat).
Working closely with all sorts of leaves in my ecoprint practice, I learned to appreciate their unique “personality”.
Some leaves create a clear print; a strong, detailed mark obtained by pressing them against the surface and boiling or steaming the whole thing up.
Some other leaves, exposed to the same conditions of heat and pressure, act as a resist, preventing some of the effects of the dyeing process from taking place.
A print has a more active quality to it, a resist a more passive one. One leaves a visible mark, the other protects the surface underneath from the surrounding influences.
When I work with Nature, my mind tends to make connections and find correspondences between the natural phenomena and the way us humans go about life.
It is so that the first kind or leaves, the one that make a mark, are my “go-getters”, the doers of this world, loud and determined. The second ones, the ones that protect the surface underneath are my “thinkers”, shy and protective, quietly creating their own kind of mark.
I find them both equally useful and beautiful.
Print or resist…it’s not all there is to printing with leaves, of course. Or to human nature for that matter…
We also have some precious leaves that print an amazing mark on one side and create a resist effect on the other, or that behave differently when in different conditions. Always a surprise, those leaves are my jolly, with their adaptable “personality”.
Some other leaves, don’t print at all and what looks like a resist is actually a “discharge” of their chemicals on the surface below. The discharge don’t leave a mark but interacts with the surface changing it substantially, often with spectacular effects. What shall we call these? The “influencers”? The “gurus”? :))
Which kind of leaf are you?
Do you go about leaving strong marks?
Do you protect? Or tend to influence?
Are you adaptable? Flexible? Do you blend in?
How do you contribute to the beauty of the final piece?