Snapdragon Life helps you rekindle your creativity, reconnect to the natural world & create a slower, more intentional, more joyful way of life.

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Eco printing on paper with Elisabeth Viguie Culshaw

eco printing with leaves on paper uk

Over the past few months, more and more eco printing has been appearing in my social media feeds. Suddenly Instagram is full of leaf printed clothing and Pinterest and YouTube are crammed with eco print tutorials. It is a technique that seems to be having its moment and gradually I've found myself mulling over how it could fit into my art.

So last week I went into Glasgow to do the first of four evening classes on eco printing on paper with Elisabeth Viguie Culshaw.

I've known Elisabeth for almost 30 years - back when I was an art gallery curator at the Hunterian Art Gallery and she was primarily a stencil artist we both worked a lot with the Charles Rennie Mackintosh archive - but it is only recently that I have been taking workshops with her and have realised what an impressive teacher she is.

For Elisabeth is a serious artist - by which I do not mean that she isn't fun, for she is indeed great fun - but rather that she is very considered and methodical in her methods. She wants to know why things work or don't work, she sets up experiments, she makes proper notes and when she is happy with her process she teaches others.


It is a great privilege to learn from someone who devotes their lives to finding things out.

My interest - of course - is in finding out whether the plants that grow here in my garden and the wild land surrounding me will print.

So many teachers use the same small range of leaves that are known to give excellent predictable results every time, but that have little connection to place.

That just doesn't interest me artistically.

I get a thrill from baking all the magic of where I live into the things I make.

creating eco prints on paper from garden leaves

Elisabeth was happy to let me experiment with anything I wanted . . . . and so I arrived in Glasgow clutching a bag of leaves from my garden - willow herb, herb robert, sanguisorba, sweet cicely, apple, rose - just to give them a go.

We are still at the very beginning of the process - bundling up pre mordanted papers with various leaves, dyes and impregnated blankets - but I'm incredibly excited at how the leaves I took printed.


eco printing with garden plants Scotland

(three leaves of willow herb are in the centre with rose and apple to the lower right and herb robert and sweet Cicely to the left)

They aren't the same as the eucalyptus or cotinus leaves in colour but in terms of strength of print they are really promising - I was particularly delighted with the sanguisorba, as that is a plant that loves my garden and self seeds all over the paths.


If I can work up to printing from full stems . . . . capturing the curve and unfurling growth . . . well that is something to aim for.


eco printing classes Scotland

(top left is the flower bud of sanguisorba)

Elisabeth will be running the Introduction to Eco printing on paper course again in January and also has lots of online courses available. You can find out more her courses here.

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Snapdragon social

Pulmonaria “Blue ensign” was one of the first plants I bought for my garden. 

The perfect Bristol blue colour. Bright in the border, beloved of bees. 
Back then - over 25 years ago - it was a rarity, now you can get plug plants of it. 
Does that make it any less precious? 
Not to me.
Were you someone who read blogs ‘back in the day’? Back when they were ugly but with soul?  I’ve been thinking about them - and more particularly the blog rolls that connected them. Curated lists of recommendations, no algorithm, no payments, no angst ridden strategy. 

It occurred to me that I could create something similar by using a playlist on my tube channel - a vlogroll if you like. 

That’s what I’m chatting about this week in my Friday film - about how so many of the people my age making videos are talking about “what you shouldn’t wear after 50” or “how to avoid the appalling fate of looking frumpy” 😂😂😂 And how, as an antidote to all that depressing nonsense, I’m collecting suggestions for an alternative playlist!

Pop over and let me know your favourites. 

I’m also talking about why I’m not sowing any seeds until the end of March this year.
Stained glass colours on the studio windowsill
Another Friday . . . . another sitooterie selfie.
Today's Friday film is about which seeds I am planting in my new dye garden . . .
I dyed my beret to fit with some things I'm taking on holiday. It is an overdye with some onion skins that I had left over from a zoom workshop that I did in The Studio Club. I do love the sense of play that being able to cook up colours gives you.
If you fancy growing your own colour there is a free download of the varieties and suppliers over on the tube . . . .

#fridayfilm #botanicaldyes #dyegarden #snapdragonlife
The second spike is always the best.
Another Friday, another daft selfie. This week Teasel gets into the frame- there is a matching photo of Dixie but she looks frankly terrified. 
This week’s Friday film is about going ‘out out’ - there is a tour of @bettysbeautifullife wonderful exhibition of botanical printing that is on in Kirkintilloch at the moment, and a visit to my parents garden in East Lothian where they have a mimosa tree flowering . We went on a dog walk on Gullane beach and then I attempt to find signs of spring in my own garden (very few but lots of shots of snuffling dogs).

I also address the issue of the tank top I’m knitting being clearly much too small for me. 

All this in just over ten minutes- you can find the film via my links page and I’ll put a link in stories too.
In the spirit of copying to find out how to do something ….. this is the photo I took when I got home from last week’s workshop with @eva_nemeth 

The last photo of snowdrops for this year - laying them roots and all on an old flagstone and trying to work how to get the whites to pop without becoming brash.

And then I cut off the flowers to press for a project and planted the bulbs and leaves out under the hazel tree to bring cheer next spring.
It has been sunny all weekend. 
I weeded and hoed and cleared and felt myself opening up just like these bulbs that I photographed at @cambo_gardens last week.
The absolute joy of the first sunny weekend of the year.

About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I help bring the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Find out more about The Studio Club