DIY Flower-Dyed Thank Yous


What to do with the once-glorious wedding garlands and bouquets after the big day? When they sadly begin to wilt, you can plunder those bouquets for the natural colorants to dye your thank- you cards! We used yarrow, marigold, and hollyhock to give these notecards a wash of delicate hues and confetti marks. -Natalie Stopka

Materials

• white notecards – look for 100% cotton or watercolor paper • masking fluid
• alum (aluminum sulfate or potassium aluminum sulfate)
• flowers, see below

• tray – enamel tray, lipped baking pan, or plastic bin • rolling pin or empty wine bottle

Flowers

Many plants and flowers contain the natural dye colorants, notably those with the species name “tinctoria” following their genus name. Here are some of the many options:
Chamomile
Coreopsis

Blackberry
Black Hollyhock Daffodil
Dahlia
Eucalyptus
Garland Chrysanthemum Golden Marguerite Goldenrod
Heather
Hibiscus
Ivy
Lady’s Mantle
Marigold
Queen Anne’s Lace Russian Sage
Sunflower
Tansy
Yarrow
Yellow Cosmos
Zinnia

Process

Using a stencil or your best calligraphic hand, write out your message on each card using masking fluid and a paintbrush.

Fill the tray with warm water, measuring as you go. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons alum per quart of water, stirring to dissolve. Submerge the notecards in the water one at a time, making sure there are no air bubble between them. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Fill a pot with the same quantity of water and bring to a boil. Remove the cards from the alum bath, and empty the tray. Scatter a layer of flower petals, whole blossoms, and leaves in the bottom of the tray, gently crushing them between your hands as you go. Cover this with a layer of notecards, and continue layering plants and notecards until the tray is full, ending with plants. Run the rolling pin over the contents to further crush the plants, releasing their dye.

Carefully pour the pot of hot water into the tray until the cards are covered, and watch as the color blossoms! Allow the dye bath to cool, 1 hour or overnight.

Remove the notecards from the bath one at a time, gently swishing though a pot of clear water to remove any plant material (though stubborn bits will easily come off when the cards are dry). Lay the cards out on a trash bag to dry, and when they are just barely still wet stack them beneath books to dry flat. Remove the masking fluid with your finger or an eraser.





  1. These are beautiful, I would love to receive a note on one of these cards.

  2. vicki says:

    Beautiful cards! What is the purpose of the alum?
    Can this be done without it?

  3. This is such a great idea! I gave the centerpieces from my wedding toa few local friends, and dried my wedding bouquet, but I like the idea of sharing the flowers with everyone who attended your wedding in a new format!

  4. Kate says:

    What a NEAT idea. These are so beautiful.

  5. These are amazing! I especially love the blue ones. I am going to so try these now! My moms friend just recently got married and needs to send out some thank you cards. She has a lot of leftover flowers so I think it will be a great idea to use them for the cards and it will match her COLOR PALETTE!

    wohooo
    xoxo
    prince repeller

  6. These are lovely, what a great idea! My mom has a flower shop and is always looking for ways to use the flowers that don’t sell, I am going to show her this! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Josh Brancek says:

    Wow!!! These are fabulous!!!

  8. Eileen Voss says:

    What masking fluid do you use? I am a calligrapher who would love to try this, and only know of rubber cement as a masking fluid. It would be too thick for my calligraphic
    style. Is there a brand name for the fluid you use? Thanks.

  9. These are amazing, thanks! What a great idea. I had to add this to StumbleUpon right away. I guess I’ll have to go and raid a flower shop, now, but it’s given me something creative to do this weekend! It keeps raining here (Manchester) so not much to do outside.

  10. Lissajous says:

    @ Vicki – the alum is a mordant, which helps fix the dye. Based on what I know of wool dying, you could also use acetic acid, copper sulphate, ammonia… there’s few other salts that can be used too. Different mordants bring out different colours in the dye from the same plant. Most plants have a colour in them – think of all the tannin that turns rivers brown – and it’s not always what you expect. I’ve seen a gorgeous pumpkin-y orange from onion skins, silvery grey and mauve from the really deep red rose petals, and rich rusty red from one of the (many, many kinds of) eucalypts.

  11. Christine Murphy says:

    “The earth laughs with flowers.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

    I always dry my colorful flowers and now I know something else wonderful to do with them.

    Would you please tell us what you use as a masking fluid?

    Thank you, Christine

  12. Hanna says:

    so fun! I’m going to have to think of a way to do this…

  13. Natalie says:

    Masking fluid is a latex-based paint or ink available at craft stores, usually in the watercolor area; we used one from Dick Blick.

    Alum is a naturally occurring compound that helps the paper fibers bond to the dye colorants. You can dye paper without using the mordant alum, but it makes the color brighter and longer-lasting.

    Enjoy!

  14. Isabelle says:

    Beautiful cards.

  15. Emily says:

    I wonder if there’s a way you could transfer the colors onto fabric instead of paper? Then you could make a quilt or some other long-lasting project, to enjoy for years beyond!

  16. Paula says:

    Emily – I wonder if this wouldn’t work with a 100% cotton fabric as well. Any man-made fabrics would not take dyes well. You would probably want to wash and dry the fabric first, both to pre-shrink and to remove the stiffeners (what makes fabric feel brand new) . Don’t use fabric softener as that could prevent the dyes from taking. Then I would proceed as above. I wouldn’t recommend drying in the dryer after your quilt is done, as that can speed fading. Also – since these aren’t professional dyes, they may not last through as many washings as regular fabrics.

  17. jessica cervonaro says:

    really really beautiful work.. very creative and inspiring.

  18. Laura C says:

    These are lovely, what a great idea.

  19. Beautiful work , it would be fun to preserve a summer garden. Great project.

  20. Cathy Severin says:

    These cards are really lovely. I look forward to trying this project with the flowers from my own garden.

  21. Cathy Severin says:

    Oh, and I was wondering if a card with an embossed message would hold up to the process. I do some stamping and it would be nice to be able to use up some of those supplies. I am unfamiliar with masking fluid. Is it readily available?

  22. KP says:

    Hi, I’m having trouble finding Alum to buy in Melbourne, is there a substitute to use?

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