By Laura Bethmann
Photography by Adam Mastoon
Bring nature’s artistry into your home with ideas from Laura Bethmann’s Hand-Printing from Nature (Storey Publishing, 2011). Transfer the beauty of freshly gathered botanical treasures onto paper, pillows, chairs, draperies, clothing and even ceramics. The following how-to is from “Personalized Stationery and Note Cards.”
Craft and paper stores are bursting with options for creating your own writing paper and greeting cards. When you go to your favorite paper source, stock up for nature printing.
Print directly on cardstock, or print on lightweight papers or fabrics that can be attached to cardstock using an acid-free glue stick. As an alternative to premade sets of blank cards and stationery, buy unique art papers and trim to size with decorative-edge scissors, or score and tear them. Successful test prints from other projects are also perfect for turning into note cards. Remember to practice by making test prints before printing on your art papers and cards.
Printed object = flat leaves with strong veining. Sage, maple, hibiscus, hydrangea, and black-eyed Susan leaves all have a maze of texture that you can feel and see; try small flowers, such as daisies and periwinkles, or other easy-to-handle objects, like mushrooms and feathers.
Pigment = stamp-pad ink or water-soluble inks
Printed surface = paper
Printing process = By inking a leaf on both sides, it is easy to print matching stationery and envelopes at the same time, placing the leaf on the stationery and using the envelope as a pressing sheet.
Finishing tips = When using water-soluble inks, allow cards to dry overnight before adding final touches. Use markers or pencils to add more color or lettering, if desired. Refold the cards, and if you like, store them in a lidded box that has been sprayed inside with your favorite fragrance, or tuck in an herbal sachet. A handmade card or letter has a unique advantage over electronic messages: you can’t send a scented e-mail!
1. Using a stamp pad and tweezers, ink a small leaf on both sides. To do this, place the leaf on a stamp pad and turn it once or twice while gently pressing it, to ensure that enough ink has adhered. Use a sheet of your stationery to make some test prints.
2. Use the tweezers to place the inked leaf on a piece of stationery.
3. Position an envelope facedown over the leaf on the stationery where you would like it to be printed, then press with the heel of your hand.
4. Carefully lift the envelope straight up to remove the leaf. Add more prints to the stationery sheet, if desired. Allow the printed sheet and envelope to dry before using.
• Good-quality 8" x 11" blank stationery or copier paper
• Envelopes to fit the French fold note cards: 4-3/8" x 5"
• Bone folder
Converting standard-size sheets of text-weight paper into note cards is easy with a French fold. Envelopes for this size card (known as size A2) are readily available in stationery stores or from your local print shop.
1. Make the French fold by folding one sheet of paper exactly in half lengthwise, then in half again (as shown), using a bone folder to create crisp edges. Turn the card so the folded edges are at the top and left side. Now the card is right-side up, with the front of the card showing.
2. Open the French fold and lay the sheet flat so the top (right side- up) section appears on the bottom right square (as shown). Create your nature-printed images on this square. When printing multiple sheets, lay them out next to one another to dry. Don’t stack them, or the ink may transfer to the back of other sheets.
Reprinted with permission from Hand-Printing from Nature by Laura Bethmann. Photography by Adam Mastoon. Published by Storey Publishing, 2011.