Eco Printing Tutorial (Paper)

As our zero waste, eco-friendly ideals carry into all parts of our life, they are slowly making their way into my art practice as well. Though I’m still an avid user of acrylic paint, for ages I’d been wanting to dive into eco prints and see how that would work. I follow an amazing eco printing artist on instagram, and I adore the beautiful clothes she makes with her fabric, but to start I wanted to explore dying paper. Hopefully I’ll be able to explore eco printed fabric in the near future though!

So here’s a little tutorial on how to do eco printing on paper.

You Will Need:

  • Watercolour paper
  • Alum (aluminium sulphate)
  • Fresh flowers and leaves
  • Water
  • An old saucepan you don’t need to use for cooking (hit up an op shop for this!)
  • A tub you can soak the paper in
  • Two pieces of metal/acrylic board you can use to sandwich your papers (see video for a better explanation if you’re unsure on this)
  • Twine / String to bind your papers
  • Old towels

Before We Start…

I just want to take a minute to say that doing this eco printing is in no way an exact science. Part of the joy of this type of art is that you get a surprise when you open it up, and you have no real way of knowing exactly how it will turn out! Even when all factors are the same, there is still often variation between one set of prints and the next.

There are lots of factors that could influence how your prints work out including the type of water (mineral content, chlorine content etc), length of time soaking / boiling, types of leaves and flowers, tightness of the binding, and amount of alum used. 

What The Video…


1. Fill a shallow container with water and add in 1 tbs of alum. Mix it so the alum has dissolved and then soak your paper. Leave it to soak until you’re ready to use it.

2. Add enough water to your saucepan so that your leaves and flowers will be covered. Add 2 tbs of alum and mix until it dissolves. Add in your foliage and flowers and leave to soak for at least ½ an hour.

3. Once everything has soaked for a while lay out your old towel to work on. Take a piece of paper, and lay foliage / flowers on half the paper, then fold in half. Place it to once side, and add more foliage / flowers to the top.

4. Make another sandwich of foliage / flowers and place it on top of the previous sandwich. Add more foliage / flowers on top and continue until you’ve made all the sandwiches you want.

5. Take your metal or acrylic blocks and put them on either side of paper stack. Use your twine to bind them together tightly.

The water is pink because the beetroot slices were soaking in here before.

6. Add both sets of water together in the saucepan and add another tablespoon of alum. You can also use vinegar if you want. Submerge your bound paper stack in the water, and put it on to boil. Simmer slowly for a few hours. You can add extra things into your water too. Avocado seeds or skin, spices like turmeric which will give everything a yellow tint, or even rusty bits of metal.

7. Carefully take out your paper stack and put it on your old towel. Slowly take off the twine and boards, and open up your pieces of paper. You can wait quite a while to do this after taking it out of the water, but it is best to do this while it’s still wet so that the foliage and florals don’t stick to the paper too much.

8. Enjoy your beautiful eco printed paper!

Tips and Notes:

As far as I know you will not be hurt from touching the water that has alum in it – it goes into pools after all! If you’re concerned, use some re-usable gloves. 🙂

I bought my alum at a local pool shop – $15 for 2kg, which is much cheaper than anything I found online!

The best things I found to print with were leaves with fine details (think ferns,  leaves with crinkly edges etc.), and flowers with strong pigment, or that sit very flat when taken off the stalk. Mustard or coriander seeds also have a really interesting effect!

Zero Waste Changes – June & July

Hey everyone! Over the last two months we’ve made a bunch more zero waste changes, which I thought I would update you on. I’ve done a vlog, which you can watch below, or continue down further to read all about what we did in June & July.

Video Links

Zero waste changes in May blog post

I buy ugly fruit and veg, and produce without plastic from Charlie’s Fruit & Veg here in Brisbane.

I mostly bulk shop at Naked Foods, and The Source Bulk Foods.

Zero Waste eCourse with Spiral Garden.

Zero Waste Changes


Traveling – tried out a cutlery kit. It was a good experiment, but it needs some more refining. I will probably try some bamboo cutlery rather than stuff from my cupboard just because I have to carry a few sets with me.

Plastic Free July – this was a fail for me. I wasn’t prepared, and neither were any of the members in my family. We’ll try this again another time.

Signed up to Spiral Garden’s zero waste course. I’m excited to have bought this course and have started this week. I particularly love the family meeting questions they have, and long lists of resources. I think it’s important to have the kids totally on board and educated about this!

Zero waste event hosted by The Source with Anita Vandyke (Rocket science) – Luke and I attended this together, and it was great to listen to her story and ask our questions. I wish we’d gone to the Bea Johnson event as well!


Continued with all things from May update.

Made spaghetti from scratch (holy delicious batman)

Added new compost bin

New keep cup so Luke & I both have one

Bought super cheap tomatoes to turn into puree/freeze to use instead of canned tomato


Safety razor

Shampoo bar



VLOG : What’s In My Bag? Stay at home mum edition – zero waste & sustainability focus.

what's in my bag? zero waste, sahm

Hey hey! I’ve got a vlog today sharing what’s in my bag! As a stay at home mum with three little kids (1 at school, 2 at home), I usually have a few random bits and pieces in my bag. Spare undies, a random toy, a lonely shoe, or even a few pens and a notepad. I took these totally random things out, and just showed you what I actually intentionally have in my bag. No one wants to awkward conversations about kids undies on youtube… Oh, and I put all the loose coins away too before my middle son confiscated them to add to this money box!

As we’re trying to be more sustainability focussed at home I have a few items in there to really help us with that journey! I’d love to know if there’s something you think I should have in my bag that I don’t have yet, or something I have in there that surprises you!

Bag notes:

  • keys
  • 2x cloth bags
  • container & hair tie
  • reading glasses & case
  • mints
  • wet bag
    • stop itch
    • tweezers
    • hanky
    • 2x microfibre cloth
  • my son’s wallet
  • my wallet!
  • bullet journal & pen
  • personal colour pallet
  • extra phone battery
  • crystals/gems and a hair clip
  • lip balm (Doterra)
  • Essential oils 



Zero Waste Changes in May

In just a month we’ve made a whole swag of changes to our lifestyle to bring us a step closer to living more sustainably. There is still a bunch of changes to make, but I’m feeling really positive about this journey, and what it’s teaching our children.

Here are some of the improvements we’ve made in May.


  • Consistently buying F&V from Charlie’s – and specifically buying ugly produce where possible, and requesting no plastic.
  • Consistently shopping at the bulk store for relevant groceries.
  • Made note of any groceries that I couldn’t buy bulk, or in a recyclable container. This list will be used in later months to either stop buying them, or find a suitable alternative. For example, this month I bought spaghetti in a cardboard box instead of in the plastic bag. It was more expensive, but my son specifically requested spaghetti over regular pasta shapes (which we can get from the bulk store). It would be easy enough, and easily zero waste to just make my own spaghetti (I already own a pasta maker), but it turns pasta from a quick “oh gosh, I can’t be bothered making dinner” kind of meal into a “okay guys, we need a few hours in the afternoon to get this done!” I would like to experiment with freezing spaghetti, as that would make it a more “easy” dinner…
  • Compost is going well. Have had to trouble shoot it a few times, but that’s going pretty well! Will need to consider a second compost of some sort as this one is already almost full!


  • I sewed those cloth bags for bulk dry goods, but my sewing machine died half way though, so I need to get that repaired to finish them off.
  • Sewed some extra shopping bags from some favourite fabric.
  • We moed house this month and didn’t use any new boxes (just got second hand ones off Gumtree) or any packing material – we just used the towels, sheets and clothes we already have!
  • Significantly downsized our home. This is important in keeping us more accountable for our space and what we bring into it, but also not using more than what we need.

Improvements to make in the coming months:

  • Stop buying grocery items that don’t come in appropriate packaging
  • Next Summer – bulk buy tomatoes and turn into passata to freeze (so save the bottles now!)
  • Start to shop at op shops for clothes instead of new shops
  • Put together a take out pack of plate and cutlery to go with water bottles. We started at a new playgroup this week that provides morning tea, but they use a lot of disposable crockery etc., so it would be ideal to bring out own. I have a bunch of wet bags I bought a few Summers ago, and I think that’ll be perfect to store this stuff in in our car. It won’t leak anywhere!
  • Thinking of reduced plastic ways to start our new veggie garden
  • Explore making a few of my own beauty products, or buying sustainable alternatives. I don’t use many beauty products other than face wash, exfoliator, deodorant, and mascara so hopefully this won’t be too hard…
  • Explore more sustainable ways to art…


warning: rambly post ahead!

I suppose we’ve been downsizing for ages now. Years really. Let me think… probably when Eli was still a baby (he’s 4.5 now), was when this all started. Before this I was a moderate level hoarder. I come from a line of moderate level hoarders on both my mother and father’s side. I actually find quite a lot of joy in “stuff”, and things that bring back memories, and more than anything in having just the right and perfect things for a project somewhere in my stash!

For many years it has been with great pride that I can help my kids to make, on the spot, any craft project Mr Maker sends our way. Just a few months ago a friend sent me a photo of some lovely candles and suggested we make some for a girl’s day, and I said “Oh yes, I have a heap of soy wax we could use!“. In actual fact, I had a whole kit of candle making supplies including wicks, dyes, and scents.

I still like this part of me, even though we are downsizing and becoming more minimalist. For sure I do almost all of this to please my husband. Not in a weird “he’s controlling me” kind of way – just in a way where I know this is his preference, and that it would reduce his stress a lot if we had less stuff. Plus he is always going on about the cost of keeping “stuff”.

But on the topic of the cost of keeping stuff, let it be know that there is also cost in always having to buy new things. And there is also an emotional and stress-level cost in getting small children into the car and taking them out on an errand to get the “stuff”.

I do agree that physical clutter in your house, or space contributes to mental clutter, and I suppose that’s another of the reasons I am into downsizing and decluttering, because I certainly have plenty of mental clutter to get rid of. Plus I like to not have so many decisions to make all the time, and less things to clean up and tidy!

Anyway, I think that’s the end of my ramble post! Not sure what the point was other than to get this stuff out fo my head!

No Spend Month Summary

Photo by on Unsplash
Photo by on Unsplash

So we finally finished our no spend month. It felt like a lifetime, especially the first and last weeks! Here’s a summary of how we went!

How Did We Do?

We have done pretty well! Lots of temptation, but we survived. We did spend some money on a few birthday things for family and friends. I don’t regret doing that though – it was good family time, and gifts are important, especially when this is only one month of the year! We didn’t really ever talk about gifts and how they fit into it, but I think they’re perfectly acceptable (within reason).

I also went and got a massage one day. I was stressed, in desperate need to alone time, and the tension in my shoulders was just crazy. It was amazing, and I do not regret that either. I have been a far more relaxed and happy mother in the days following it then I was for the week before it!

We also had one or two slip-ups, but for the most part, we resisted any temptation, and really denied ourselves a bunch of things we would have bought without thinking.

Thoughts & Feelings

After about a week I totally regretted doing this month. Hah! But it also had some benefits. I liked that we could easily explain to the kids about what we were doing and why we couldn’t buy them things, but I missed being able to go out and do something special as a family. We missed out on some really fun and important events because they had entry fees, and that was dissapointing.

BUT, it was a good experience overall. I was able to identify where I just spend money without thinking, and that in itself is a pretty powerful thing!

Next Time?

I’ll be honest, I’m not in a rush to do this again. We manage to stick to our budget well almost all the time, so we’re not exactly spending big, or racking up debt. This no spend month came at a frustrating time – with a number of events on, and at the same time as we started to get into all this zero waste stuff, so it was annoying to not be able to enable our new love for zero waste stuff because we weren’t spending things!

I think if I did this again I would allow op-shopping (thrifting), and I would also allow entry to events (within reason)! Also, possibly giving ourselves more than 2 days notice like we did this time would have been helpful!


Zero Waste – The Next Steps

Here are my personal next steps. I’ll let you know how they go!

  • Sew some more reusable bags (this will use up some of my fabric stash also – yay!).
  • Sew a reusable cutlery bag for days when we go up the coast.
  • Have a go shopping at the bulk food store (not aiming for perfect first time – just better!).
  • Commit to always buying F&V from Charlie’s (plastic free packaging).

How Far We’ve Come

man with dirty hands doing the peace sign - Photo by Eddie Kopp on Unsplash
Photo by Eddie Kopp on Unsplash

I thought it might be fun to document all the ways that I’ve moved from single use to reusable items, and from plastic to an alternative over the last few years, and that we’ve amped up even further in the last month or so. Partly to provide some sort of inspiration to other people, but also to give me a bit of a reality check. We are at this stage with zero waste and sustainability, where most of the obvious and basic things are done, and we are now moving on to the things that require more sacrifice, preparation, and thought. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and for your mind to get a bit “you suck at this, look how far you have to go!”, so this post is here to remind myself “Hey! Look how far you’ve come!”.


  • Converted from Tupperware to glass jars for all pantry items (storing flour, etc.
  • Stainless steel straws for everyday smoothie use.
  • Keep cup for coffee on the go.
  • Reusable water bottles to take with us.
  • Plastic free lunchboxes every day.


  • Using microfibre clothes for cleaning instead of chemicals (in plastic bottles no less). I know microfibre isn’t perfect, but I didn’t know at the time, and it is at least a step in the right direction.
  • Recycling.
  • Reusable bags for groceries (the trick is remembering to take them!).
  • As of yesterday – a compost bin! Have spent quite a few hours already watching youtube videos on the best way to compost!

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash


  • Using bar soap instead of  body wash in the shower.
  • Changed to reusable pump bottle for hand washing instead of buying a new one each time.
  • Changed to a menstrual cup instead of using tampons and pads.
  • Using essential oils to replace some first aid supplies.

I’m not sure how extensive this list is.

I wrote this all a week or two ago, and then I see the most wasteful lifestyle choice from people as I browse instagram (cooking in single use foil containers instead of a dish you can wash and reuse – WHY?!), and then I think perhaps I do much better than I think I am.

I am truly so grateful to my mother, who hardly ever used single-use items, except for the “standard” things like cling wrap, and alfoil, and who always made our food from scratch (admittedly this has made us all food snobs to a degree, but there are worse things in life than refusing to eat packet mix cake!).

I feel like these messages have really influenced my life a lot, even without her specifically teaching us anything on the subject. I wouldn’t even consider buying packaged food for my son’s school lunch box. I wouldn’t even consider using a single use foil tin to bake in when I could so easily use a proper dish.  I wouldn’t consider using disposable plates as a lazy night thing (even though we don’t have a dishwasher).

Anyway, even with those things I would never consider, and with the list of things I’ve changed, there is still room for improvement, and a chance to be more mindful about the way I live. I’m excited! This feels so right for me/us, and has brought me huge peace along with the excitement and a new passion project to sink my teeth into!