Lee Valley Tools Gardening Newsletter
Vol. 3, Issue 5
October 2008
Nature Printing by Foilography
Oregon grape leaf
A print of an Oregon grape leaf.
  In its simplest form, nature printing involves applying ink to natural material and then pressing the inked material onto paper to make a print. I developed the process of foilography to allow for the production of many prints from one subject without harming it.

As a simple introductory example, I've outlined the process involved in producing a print from a skeletonized leaf. Essentially, the leaf to be printed is placed on a flat, smooth backing and the entire thing is wrapped in aluminum foil to make a printing plate. The plate is then inked and printed.

  • Dried, flat leaf (The moisture content in a fresh leaf will form objectionable bubbles under the foil.)
  • Heavy-duty household aluminum foil
  • Piece of thin Plexiglas® a bit larger than your leaf (The edges and corners of it should be rounded and smoothed to avoid tearing the foil.)
  • Speedball® oil-based block-printing ink
  • Ink roller or brayer
  • Masking tape
  • Cotton swabs
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Two pieces of thin felt about 9"x12" (23 cm x 30 cm)
  • Rolling pin
  • Two 9"x12" (23 cm x 30 cm) pieces of stiff flat board, old countertop material or plywood or MDF 3/4" (2 cm) thick
  • Printing paper such as card stock, watercolor paper or vellum-finish art paper
  • Plastic-coated freezer paper
  • Sheet of acetate or Mylar® that is a bit larger than your Plexiglas®
  • Permanent felt-tip marker
  • Utility knife
  • Plastic spoon or spatula
  • Vegetable oil
  • Liquid soap
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