Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Nature's Beauty

After picking up the latest issue of Cloth Paper and Scissors "Pages" magazine, I wanted to try the technique that Laura Ryan shared in her article entitled "Boiled Books."  The technique uses plant material for dyeing paper to make books.  I couldn't wait to get started, so I grabbed the dog and headed outside to start collecting plant material!

All of a sudden, there was a whole new reason to take the dog out for a walk!  I found myself scrutinizing my neighbor's yards.  My eyes were drawn to colors, more so than textures.  I was also focused on finding fresh plant materials, not so much the decayed leaves or tree bark.  By the time we finished our walk, nearly two hours had elapsed!

I took my treasure trove of nature's palette and spread  the items I had collected out onto a paper towel.  As they were drying, I created my little accordian fold book out of a single sheet of 9 x 12 watercolor paper.  The finished book came to roughly 2 x 3" sized page.

I began to place my plant material into each fold of the tiny book.  When all the folds were filled, I used binder clips to hold the book together.  I placed the book into a large pot with 2 gallons of water and 1/2 cup white vinegar.  I brought it to a boil and then let it simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

I removed the book from the pot to cool.  When the book was cool enough to handle, I removed the plant material from the folds.  The paper is very fragile when wet.  To help the pages of the book dry completely, I used a hair dryer.

I was surprised to learn that the flowers that I thought would bring lots of vibrant color to my pages barely left a mark.  Other plants that did not seem to be very interesting left beautiful texture markings. Note to self: the next time I gather plant materials, I will try to focus on plants with more texture including decaying leaves and tree bark.

To give my books (yes, I made two) a more finished look, I created simple covers for the ends using chipboard and scrap paper.  I also made paper clasps to keep the book closed.  Aren't they cute?


  1. I love these! What plants did you use?

    1. Janet, I couldn't really tell you what plants and flowers I used. I just looked for color. I chose small flowers because the pages were small, but it's not necessary. There were purple ones, yellow, orange, red, white...One was a pink geranium, but some were ground cover or even weeds! You can use any kind of plant material but I am still trying to figure out plants which ones leave color (or not) and which leave texture (or not). Next time, I am going to also look for tree bark and decaying leaves and see what results those produce. Try it!

  2. I can see where the surprise of seeing what plants produce what effect could become addictive. I would love to try this.