Nature Printing Book

About Nature Printing

Nature Printing dates back to pre-history. You can find hand prints, made from dipping hands in a red powder, on cave walls. In one cave there is a handprint and the print of a stalk of grain.

Leonard DaVinci pressed an inked leaf of sage in one of his notebooks, explaining how he did it in his mirror script.

 Benjamin Franklin used nature prints of tobacco and other leaves to foil counterfeiters of colonial money. In early times chemists pharmacists created books of prints of medicinal plants, with instructions on preparation and doses. 

Eventually, the scientific reason for nature prints became less important, and the technique was picked up by artists primarily in the United States.

Today there is a Nature Printing Society with a world-wide membership and a website:

The technique, in its simple form, is to ink a flat leaf and press it against a piece of paper. When you lift the leaf, you will see the details clearly, especially if you use the back of a leaf, which usually has more prominent veining. Inking can be done with a rubber stamp pad, or any variety of paints and inks.


About Sonja Larsen:

Sonja Larsen has been making nature prints since the late 1980's when she saw the Smithsonian SITES show, "Pressed on Paper." Fish prints and botanical prints from Japan and the U.S. created one of the Institution's most popular touring exhibits.

​She has studied with two Japanese master printers and several Americans. She was invited to participate in an annual Gyotaku exhibit in Japan. Her prints were juried into a major exhibit at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and in Forest Lawn Museum's "Artistic Nature" show in 2005.

Sonja hosted two international workshops in Minnesota for the Nature Printing Society. People came from all over the U.S. to attend her annual week-long workshops in MN.

​She edited the NPS newsletter for 10 years and edited the Society's book, "The Art of Nature Printing" through 4 editions. Her art is included in books: "Paper Art" by Maurer-Mathieson and "Natural Impressions" by Carolyn Dahl. Her fish and plant prints are in collections in Germany, Japan, Sweden, Russia and the U.S.

Sonja and John Doughty shared a show of nature prints at the University of Minnesota Arboretu's Andersen Horticulture Library, and one of her prints is in its permanent collection.