This is a blog post on natural printing with horse chestnut. Horse chestnuts commonly known as conkers are easily seen in parks in the UK and elsewhere. I use the leaves for natural printing as it is easily available starting from spring right to autumn. One doesn’t have to pluck the leaves and flowers of the tree as they tend to shred their leaves by themselves. They are easy to pick from the ground.
The leaves’ shapes are nice and dramatic which makes it a great leave for printing. It is possible to reuse them again twice although the print won’t be as strong. It is also possible to dry them up for the winter season. but not for the flowers they tend to go moldy during the drying process.
Natural printing with horse chestnut
It is possible to use the leaves and the flowers. Possibly even the bark but I have yet to print with any bark. Horse chestnut flowers appear in April and May time and fall off the trees during this time. Later on, they will be horse chestnut shells but due to the shape, it is difficult to bundle print with it.
Horse chestnut leaves produce nice bright yellows to dark browns/ black depending on how many contacts they get with iron mordant. I normally use a blanket but it is possible to soak the fabric in iron solution. I use the same method as described in my blog post on natural printing with Logwood.
It is possible to print on silk and cotton. It works well. The print is fast as well although a gentle wash with mild detergent is recommended.
In my natural printing time so far these are the leaves I use most of the time. As it is easily available and produces dramatic patterns when printed on fabric.