Saturday, July 31, 2010

Leaf Printing - Ferns

This afternoon I got in a little leaf collecting and pressing, which led me to thinking about printing...

Winsor Green YS watercolor and Holbein Rich Gold gouache. In this first image, the fern sections were brushed with color, placed on sketch paper, and pressed with heavy cardboard. After trying various consistencies, it just seemed that the watercolor didn't detail, although the gouache was showing promise.

Switching to Oxide of Chromium seemed to improve detail. Was it consistency, opacity, or both? Not sure about that, but I did like the color combination. For these last two test, instead of painting the fern sections, paint was applied to cardboard and the fern positioned and pressed into the paint. I somehow accidentally switched over to Holbein Brilliant Gold Gouache (duh...) and those oversized sparkles reduced detail.

I liked the look of the overlaid gouache so dropped bits of gold gouache on the Oxide of Chromium before pressing the fern into the paint. There is kind of a nice sparkle on the printing that's missed here.


  1. The chromium oxide is a wonderful colour! I must get some as soon as I'm back in the UK.

    Brief sparse messages while abroad ... no internet connection at the flat or the workshop, and the public library is closed for the summer holidays.

    Nice pressed petals, too :-)

    If you would like the perfect exercise for practising your spheres, do a floral-and-pearl border à la Renaissance trompe-l'oeuil style. A dozen pearls in slightly different colours will get you grooved right in -- as if you weren't already ;-D

    btw there are some gothic majuscules up on the calligraphy site if you fancy ...

  2. You know, Katharine, that sounds interesting. You have previously encouraged Renaissance style... I think I do have a few books that could help.

    Hey, thanks for the majuscules! Oh my, I want to try them now! I enjoyed the articles on books and decorated letters too. I wonder if that is all new or perhaps I've overlooked in the past?

  3. My favorite way/medium for printing leaves/ferns etc., is to use stamp pads; not the old fashioned dye kind at the stationery shops but the new kind designed for rubber stamp artists. I enjoy carving my own stamps and have these highly pigmented pads on hand; I've experimented with them and found them to give amazingly and precise prints when using leaves, ferns and other natural objects. As the viscosity of the ink is made specifically for printing, it has enough tack and body to allow for crisp prints. I lay my specimens onto waxed paper or scrap paper, take the pad and dab all over the leaf and then carefully pick up the leaf and lay it ink side down on my chosen surface and press softly with my fingers, then equally as careful, peel up the leaf to reveal the print. I like to ink the underside of the leaf with the veining for the most dramatic results. You can use multiple colors on the leaf before printing, too. Sometimes I keep a few of these pads in my nature journaling kit to be able print while "on the road".
    My favorite ink pads are the pigmented ones by VersaColor I buy the tiny one inch square ones (bark, bamboo and green tea are some of my fav colors). I also have some by ColorBox that are tiny cat's eye shaped and come in stacked sets of 6. I have the green set and one called rustic (browns). Out of the two, I prefer VersaColor as I feel it yields a more delicate print.

  4. Well now, I have never heard of such a wonderful thing! Those little stamp pads sound like just the ticket!

    It just so happens that I am temporarily working out of a remote office and my travels take be by a rather large craft store. I will be checking them out tomorrow!

    "Tack and body..." That is it exactly, Gretchen. It has been rather hit or miss for me so far. I have been considering working off a glass surface and/or trying brayers of various degrees of hardness. I think that first I must try VersaColor. Awesome, and thanks! :-)

  5. I have some of these little pads too and have been utterly inspired by your leaf prints. I hope to try later.
    Yep, I am still visiting long after your little birds have flown.

  6. Well hi there, Threadspider! : -) Nice to see that you are still about!

    Leaf printing has been such fun and I will get to more at some point.

    Ah, the little birds... They were such fun. I hoped for another round on the nest but nothing doing. Perhaps next year. I am looking for an excuse to set up a web cam! :-)