Printing leaves

Luca Pacioli’s instructions for printing leaves are very basic, but with a little modification and the use of polyurethane rollers results can be achieved that look ‘very natural’ even without colouring. Using commercial oil-based printing ink and the hand roller to roll out an even film, a composite blackberry leaf was laid top side down on the ink. The back of the leaf was inked, using the roller, then lifted from the ink and placed on a sheet of paper, top side down.

Another sheet, held in register in an improvised tympan with frisket was lowered onto the leaf. Pressure was applied using a roller and the tympan raised to reveal a print from the top (above) and the leaf adhering to the other sheet (below).

Carefully removing the leaf the more detailed print from the vein side is seen:


  1. Thanks for explaining your method. The outcome looks beautiful and so crisp! I tried something similar before, starting out with dried leaves and were not so much after the clean look you had here but something more - erm grungy maybe would be a good word. I wasn't convinced about my method and the results, though.
    But you encouraged me to try again. I can see several things I could change to improve my results now. Thanks again!


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