Experimenting with Chlorophyll Prints

Transferring the image of a leaf to paper has been around for years. It’s only recently though, that I learned of a technique using a Big Shot, one of those crafting tools I’ve put off buying for years.

Sizzix Big Shot

Sizzix Big Shot

Dawn, who blogs at Petals. Paper. Simple Thymes created these beautiful cards using the technique. Dawn’s post and her stunning cards were the impetus I needed. I bought a Big Shot so I could give the technique a try. I’m sharing the Big Shot tool with my sister, Sharon, who makes all of her own cards. We bought some fun dies for her to use for her holiday cards this year.

As Dawn says, this is a wonderful opportunity to combine two loves: gardening and paper crafts.

According to Wiki:

Chlorophyll (also chlorophyl) is any of several closely related green pigments found in cyanobacteria and the chloroplasts of algae and plants.[1] Its name is derived from the Greek words chloros (“green”) andΒ  phyllon, (“leaf”).[2] Chlorophyll is essential in photosynthesis, allowing plants to absorb energy from light. – Wikipedia

The technique is simple. You sandwich a leaf or petal between a folded piece of paper, run it through the Big Shot, and the green pigment created by the chlorophyll transfers to the paper.Β  As Pauline King would say, I’m at the messy stage of this process. I’ve yet to make a single card, but not from lack of trying.

I gathered several scraps of paper from my stash to get started, including an old file folder, card stock, old-fashioned typewriter paper and vellum.

File folder leaf print

Paper: File Folder * Verdict: so-so

chlorophyll prints watercolor paper

Paper: Watercolor * Verdict: Nice most of the time but not for all plant material

velum paper chorophyll print

Paper: Velum * Verdict: It looks like a Rorschach Test

I quickly learned that all paper is not created equal. In the end it was a scrap of watercolor paper that worked the best. It absorbed some of the natural moisture and showed off the texture of the plant material to good effect.

My collection of leaves were a mixed bag as well. Some were so wet and juicy, that they produced images that were half leaf imprint, half splat. My prints are definitely not ready for prime time, but I am having fun.

I’m still trying to get a good imprint from my coleus leaves. They’re a beautiful mix of red and green and sometimes purple. They’re also heart-shaped. If I can manage to get the impressions just right without the extra moisture they’ll look terrific on a card.

My favorite imprints so far are the fern and the Nepeta.

This imprint is from my lacy fern, a plant I’ve carted around with me for nearly thirty years. It went from a small, seventy-nine cent plant on my nightstand, to owning a corner of our garden. I love it.

Chlorophyll transfer fern and sweet pea

Chlorophyll transfer of fern and sweet pea petal to watercolor paper

The Nepeta or cat nip also transferred well, and comically, retained some of its potency. Mouse the Cat hopped up on the desk and enjoyed the scent.

Nepeta catmint transfer print

Mouse Approved

Nepeta (cat mint) transfer

Nepeta (cat mint) transfer

I’ll keep experimenting and hope to eventually have some bona fide cards to share. I tossed the small samples, but gathered the rest of them into a sample booklet, held together with baker’s twine and a few strips of Washi tape.

Chlorophyll Samples

Chlorophyll Sample Booklet

Have you been working away at a technique for a while with mixed results? Let us know in the comments below.

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51 thoughts on “Experimenting with Chlorophyll Prints

    • Thank you, Michele. Mouse the Cat is a character. Between Mouse and Tessa, we have many excuses to laugh. Lindy is our mellow kitty, much loved and always at peace. I hope you’ll share more about your accordion panel. I’m intrigued. I love paper crafting.

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  1. Just wonderful, Alys! I’m so happy to see your first Chlorophyll Prints. Isn’t it just amazing to see the colors? Nature’s colors are more beautiful than any ink color! Just this afternoon, I was thinking about making a set of herbal notecards for a friend who loves to cook. I will try using watercolor paper this time. You have also inspired me to try printing with foliage from my ferns. Yours is just lovely!

    I’m so excited to hear that you have a Big Shot! It was one of my very first crafty investments… and I still use it every time I am in my little studio. You can even use it to die cut fabric or felt for stitching projects. The possibilities are endless! Wishing you a creative weekend, my friend! πŸ’—
    P.S. Heartfelt thanks for sharing the link.

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    • Dawn the colors are amazing, and the scents, too. It’s hard to describe, but the closest I can get is earthy and organic. I remember reading your post last December and how excited I got. I know you’ll enjoy working with the water color paper. It’s pricier then the card stock, so I’m going to keep working on technique and also a variety of greens till I get there. Did you have the “too much moisture” problem? I wondered if I harvested the leaves and let them sit longer before running them through. Any thoughts? Your friend will love a set of herbal note cards. That is what I would like to eventually do: make sets of cards for gifts.

      I’m happy to link to your post, and hope that others find your calm and creative blog space and enjoy it as much as I do.
      xo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very intriguing, although I don’t quite understand what this machine does. I’ve done some eco printing with leaves, where you soak the paper in alum and then steam it. Interesting effects…

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  3. I had a post about this very thing pop up in my You Tube feed a few days ago – I was so tempted to look at it and then decided it would be just another thing to muddle my brain with, so I let it go by. πŸ™‚ Just as well as I don’t have a big shot – just an old cuttlebug. But so very tempting – that fern and nepeta are gorgeous…. and Orlando would be on that paper right beside Mouse πŸ™‚ So, now I’m thinking if it works in a BS it would work in an old cuttlebug. πŸ™‚ (TIm H products are so expensive here, I was drooling over his new stamp platform until I discovered it sells for $80 here. Can you imagine!!)

    Any how I imagine you are in for a time of playing with all kinds of foliage and petals and papers as you get to understand how it all works and comes together. Don’t toss your fails though – everything is a layer that can be added to and built up to make card fronts and backgrounds. I keep the paper I wipe my brushes on and smear left over paint onto and when the paper is full I stamp and doodle and turn it into cards, book marks, decorative tapes etc.

    You could also fussy cut small and imperfect results and layer them to make a pretty card – just a thought. Have fun, can’t wait to see what you come up with ❀

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    • Funny you should mention fussy cutting, as I ended up doing that for my sample book. That said, they had badly faded within a few short days so I’ll have to sort out why. The other leaves are still looking vibrant.

      Those platforms are around $50 or $60 even here, but perhaps the price will come down as they are on the market for awhile.

      I’m having the weirdest sense of dejavu, thinking I already replied to this post, so if I did (WP says not) you’ll know why.

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  4. After the early experiments, it looks like you figured it out – the fern is beautiful! I don’t have craft projects that I’m working on, but I’ve been trying to improve my bridge game by taking lessons – that’s as close as I can get. πŸ™‚

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    • Oh, bridge lessons! Good for you. I’ve never learned the game as it always seemed quite intimidating. Now that I know you can take lessons I’m even more intimidated. There must be so much to learn. My sister and I played card games the whole time we were growing up. Sometimes we would take our deck outside and a whole group of us would play. We had very little money in those days, so we stretched the deck of cards into lots of fun activity.

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  5. What a cool device β€” and what a perfect new hobby for an enthusiast of nature such as yourself. I have to agree with Gallivanta that you already seem quite skilled at this craft β€” your print of the fern was especially gorgeous. And I’m glad to see also that Mouse approves of your artistic efforts (because as you know, cats can be fearsome critics!). Thank you for bringing this refreshing and inspiring bit of beauty to my day. xx

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  6. Wow, this is so new to me that I don’t know where to start! I never even knew such a technique/machine existed – what a revelation! I love that Mouse is joining in as well. You’re having some success obviously – the fern is perfect!

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  7. hey! so that’s what you’re up to. That’s a new twist on a Bigshot! I remember as a kid, someone had a flower press. it was a bunch of stuff stacked together with butterfly bolts. This looks far more practical. I think the fern leaves are the prettiest. I just read Paulines note…teehee, I know what I’ll bring to NZ.
    I’ve not tried to cut fabric, but did do some felt and it worked OK. Will you put all your prints into an album Alys? It’s seems so English doesn’t it? Except maybe they used tissue and stacks of books in a library. You’re the modern version of a time honoured hobby. xox K

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    • I still see those flower presses from time to time in shops. Aren’t they sweet and nostalgic? I’ve pulled the pages together and attached with a bit of twine. I don’t think I’ll get any fancier than that. It’s been fun though. Now that I know the fern works so well, time permitting, I’ll focus on that. There are a few other things to try, but I’ve sampled most of the herbs and broad-leafed plants by now. I have so many potted succulents, and they are filled with water so they won’t work with this technique. We can play around with it on your visit.

      xo

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  8. Pingback: Halloween Cards: Chlorophyll Prints From My Garden (Part 2) – Gardening Nirvana

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