In Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts (soon to be followed-up with the Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts later this month) there are two consecutive chapters on Botanical Pressing and Botanical Printing, the perfect guides for undertaking these projects at home.
Below is a gallery of some of the leaf-printing projects from Martha Stewart Living. The basic supplies for this project include: sponge brush, fabric paints, a flattened leaf of your choice, fabric of your choice, paper towels, rubber roller, tweezers and an iron, which is used to heat-set the fabric paint to the material, following the paint manufacturer's instructions.
Oddly enough, there are only ten basic leaf shapes found on earth, but that number encompasses thousands of subtle variations in shape, size and texture. Above, a plain white table cloth serves as a canvas for lush botanical prints. Here, huge monstera leaves were used. One side of the leaf (the side with the most texture) is painted and then carefully placed onto the fabric. It is then covered with paper towel and rolled gently to help the paint adhere to the cloth. After a few minutes, remove the paper towel and gently peel the leaf away to reveal the print. Be creative with the arrangement of the leaves on the fabric, but keep in mind to save enough 'negative space' to allow the shapes of the leaves to shine.
For these linen porch pillows, the bright mustard yellow fabric was printed with three different sizes of anthurium leaves in three different shades: red, orange and white. The effect is a hot, sunburst of colour.
This blue lemon-leaf print on a white linen table cloth looks beautiful against the woodland pattern of the tea set. When printing leaves or other plants, don't worry about maintaining the botanical integrity of the leaves. The charm is in the abundance of leaves and the surprising softness of their shapes. Using part of the branch, as shown above, gives gorgeous context and helps connect the leaf patterns to create a whole image.Linen-covered journals look elegant and adorable printed with a variety of leaves, including eucalyptus, bay leaves, crossed palm fronds and magnolia leaf. In some cases, it is the boldness of one leaf that makes the statement, using symmetry and contrasting colours. In other cases, it is the asymmetry and random placement of the leaves that lend charm to the effect.
For this tote bag, the geometric arrangement of leaves creates a modern pattern. In this instance, the 'leaves' that were used were in fact cut out of paper. (One should never restrict oneself to the whims of nature; create your own leaf shapes!) For this project, it is best to design the pattern on paper first before printing.