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Flower Dyed Paper Backgrounds

"Between the villages of Aubiere and Romagnat in the ancient Province of Auvergne there is an old road that comes suddenly over the top of a high hill. To stand south of this ridge looking up at the highway flowing over the skyline is to receive one of those irrefutable impressions from landscape which requires more than a philosopher to explain. In this case it is undoubtedly, for some reason, one of exalted expectation."
Hervey Allen, from Anthony Adverse


experiment (k-spr-mnt) A test or procedure carried out under controlled conditions; to determine the validity of a hypothesis or make a discovery.

Dying Watercolor Paper with Rose Petals

Why on earth would one want to use rose petals to dye paper? It's all about play and experimentation, so why on earth not? It started with an abundance of blooming knock-out roses, brought indoors to enjoy in glass vases. Then the petals started to drop... and with petals at every turn, I started wondering what I could do with petals on an art journal page. So I did 3 experiments using rose petals, curious to see if I could get the look of tie dye...

  1. pureed petals to tie dye paper towels
  2. fresh flower petals with matte medium to add color to watercolor paper
  3. fresh petals with fiber paste and watercolor paper

If you want to try these crazy experiments at home, you'll need a wine cork, a small bowl of fresh or faded rose petals, watercolor paper, a food processor, acrylic matte medium and/or fiber paste, paper towels. To do just the second two experiments, you won't need to use your food processor!


The puree looks like raspberry sorbet, doesn't it? Yummy. 


I used the tiny Oscar food processor to puree the rose petals with just a few tablespoons of water, enough water for the food processor to do its job.

After I made puree of petals {for lack of a better term}, I placed the results on paper towells overnight. The paper towels turned a vivid magenta. I tried to re-use the puree but it resulted in muddy brown. So I would envision the same process with silk or cheesecloth, wouldn't that be lovely? Hand-dyed stuff can be used as collage fodder in your art journal, of course!


On to the second bit of fun with rose petals + salvia petals + matte medium:

The first step was to place a spoonful of matte medium on watercolor paper. Using a wine cork, I "ground" a handful of flower petals into the medium. This is a messy job, but someone's got to do it, right?


The third experiment, playing with rose + salvia petals + fiber paste:

Started with a spoonful of fiber paste on watercolor paper, adding a handful of flower petals and "grinding" the fiber paste and petals around with a wine cork. Fiber paste has a mild grittiness, so the color was more vibrant. At this point, my arm was taxed. Time for a break.


Placed the dyed watercolor papers under a heavy book to dry flat. The extra petals will flake off, leaving wonderous texture and color! I did a half dozen more pages with fiber paste and flower petals, with good results all around. Love the texture as the roses start to dry.

Delicious periwinkle blues + purples.

Here's the interesting thing. The petals that were mixed with matte medium or fiber paste turned purple or periwinkle with just a tinge of magenta. The paper towels with pureed petals turned magenta. Wondering how yellow or orange flowers would work. Fun collage backgrounds, cut up for bookmarks, etc.

For more tutorials, see Art Journal Tutorials Galore.