Botanical Jelly Printing with Elderflowers

Elderflowers growing in mass of stinging nettles

The elderflowers are blossoming in the hedges around the farm but they thrive in the most inaccessible places, surrounded by a forest of stinging nettles or high above my head. I thought they’d make an interesting jelly print, so found the easiest to reach flowers and snipped them off.

Using my home-made jelly (gelli or gelatin) plate, I rolled out some ink and started making some prints. If you’re new to jelly printing, read this beginner’s guide to jelly printing to understand the technique.

Botanical jelly print of elder flower

I hoped the detailed print would capture the delicateness of the flowers but was rather disappointed that this didn’t happen as it was difficult to lift enough detail and capture their fragility. I broke the flowerheads up into sections, but still couldn’t get the paper close enough to the stems and the mass of flowers made it difficult to define individual ones.

The silhouette prints (that I thought would be a bit blobby and boring) turned out to be more interesting than the detailed prints and convey an impression of the elderflowers in the hedgerow.

Inked elder flowers after printing session
Annoyingly, but predictably, a few flowers stuck to the plate each time the flowerhead was lifted off, which meant picking up each tiny flower individually and taking prints of ever decreasing flower heads. By the end of the printing session, the inked flowers looked rather pretty.

It was an interesting exercise in botanical jelly printing, but there are plenty of plants that make better prints.

If you’re interested in making botanical jelly prints using elderflowers, I used this recipe for making the gelatin plate and used Caligo Safe Wash Relief Inks.

If you’d rather use your elderflowers for making summer drinks, read how to make your own Elderflower Fizz.

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