Seed paper is a fun and eco-friendly material to use for many projects. From scrapbooking to stationery, cards to making little paper gifts, it is one of the most versatile paper media to use for crafting. However, trying to print on seed paper can turn out to be not so much fun if you do not have a full understanding of how the paper works. This article will provide tips and tricks for printing on seed paper using an inkjet printer.
Why use an inkjet printer?
Although other types of printers can be used for printing on seed paper, there are disadvantages to these printing methods that render seed paper almost useless for planting. Some printing methods destroy the seeds in the printing process so the paper would not be plantable in the end. Using an inkjet printing method, so far, seems to be the least impactful method that would allow you to have a paper that grows. Inkjet printing involves spraying the paper with a jet of ink as it goes through the machine. It does not involve heat or extensive pressing that can kill seeds. Below are some tips to consider when using an inkjet printer on plantable seed paper.
1. Use a rear feed or straight feed printer.
Most home office printers fold paper when printing. While this does not pose a problem with regular copy paper, seed paper tends to get jammed in these types of printers. If your seed paper has seeds that are well embedded in the paper and the paper is fairly smooth this will not happen too often. However, different manufacturers produce different weights and textures of seed paper which may not run through the printer easily. A rear feeder or straight through feed does not bend the paper allowing easier passage through the printer.
2. Test your print on copy paper first.
This is not just true for seed paper but any other specialty paper as well. Test your print on standard copy paper to reduce waste. Seed paper is pretty expensive when compared to other types of paper and the cost of errors in graphics or color can add up pretty quickly if you are making those mistakes on your valuable seed paper.
3. Give yourself extra allowance with design items on the sheet.
Seed paper can be very unforgiving as a print media. You will find that due to its rough texture (because of the seeds embedded), print elements such as texts or graphics may be slightly warped. If the paper isn’t aligned properly you will find that your graphics may not be in the same location on the seed paper as it is on plain paper. This error is usually reduced with a straight through feed printer. The bending of the paper in other types of printer tends to throw the position of graphics off when printing. To avoid any mishaps give yourself an extra 0.5 inch when printing if you are not using a straight feed/rear feed printer. This will help with graphic misalignment issues like text that will be very obvious if not printed in the right position. If you want to center text on a seed paper page, for instance, you may want to slide your font a half inch further left. Please note that this may not always be the case with every seed paper but ones that have a more cottony feel and can slide easily in the printer tend to do this.
4. Choose the right paper.
This brings us to the topic of paper choice. Your choice of seed paper will greatly impact your print experience. Some seedpapers are made just for printing and will usually say so on the package. These papers will be a lot smoother and the seeds will be embedded more evenly for this purpose. It is recommended that you pick printable seed papers for use in your inkjet printer. Seed papers with looser seeds may not only jam in your printer but loose seeds can get dislodged in hard to reach places of your printer. Your best bet when using an inkjet printer is to choose seed paper marked as printable.
Even if you are using a seed paper marked as printable by the manufacturer, please bear in mind that not all seed papers will feel the same. This is because not all seed paper contains the same materials and not all are constructed at the same weight. The texture of the paper will not only affect ease of printing but also print quality. Printable seed paper that has a smooth, fabric feel tend to give the best print quality in terms of graphic brilliance. These are premium seed papers. If you are printing something that requires vivid graphics this would be a great paper to choose. Other printable seed paper that is smooth but feels more like traditional paper or thin cardstock also prints well but not as brilliant as smooth, premium seed paper. Seed paper choice ultimately comes down to the purpose of your project and since there are so many options of printable seed paper, just have fun and choose a paper that suits your needs.
5. Keep your graphics simple.
Although this sounds like it takes the creativity out of printing with seed paper, the truth is the simpler your graphics the less trouble you will have printing with seed paper on an inkjet printer. As mentioned above, there are many options of printable paper for projects requiring more extensive graphic work but, even so, there can be a tricky learning curve to get it just the way you like.
The great thing about printing with an inkjet printer on seed paper is that you can get a pretty sharp print even on a cheaper home office printer. This is true especially when you have very simple graphics or if you are printing on one of the premium seed papers. If you have a good quality printable seed paper that is smooth, you can get a good print quality with a standard inkjet printer. If you are printing on seed paper that is not as premium as the one mentioned above, you will need a more professional quality inkjet printer if you plan to print heavy graphics.
6. Save printer templates.
If you want a print that is true to color on your screen you may have to customize your print settings. You may also have to tweak your print settings for paper thickness and quality of print output. Again, each inkjet printer is different and so are the needs of the individual person. An artist who wants vivid prints of his or her work would need to adjust his or hers printer differently from a person who is only printing in black and white or printing simple graphics. However, once you find the settings that work for you, make sure you save them for future printing. This will save you a lot of time in the long run.
7. Save document templates.
This step is very important for seed paper printing. Since you may have to move your graphics around to accommodate slight shifts in your print media, you should save each document edit separately. Seed paper printing is not like printing on standard copy paper or cardstock and you will likely have to tweak things a few times to get it right. Saving your work as a different template each time will allow you to easily revert to templates that worked right or nearly right on a print run, saving you loads of time.
8. Feed only one sheet at a time.
Seed paper isn’t like regular paper that you can just set in your inkjet printer and walk away. You have to feed one sheet at a time. This doesn’t just mean that you hit print one sheet at a time. It also means that you only load the printer with ONE sheet each time. Having extra sheets on your print tray (even regular copy paper) can wreak havoc on your printer leading to paper jams or paper torn off mid-print. Even with professional inkjet printers it is not recommended to print more than one sheet at a time.
Is printing on seed paper worth it?
Printing with seed paper on an inkjet printer isn’t only a great way to get good results but it preserves your paper for planting. There are a few professional printing houses that have years of experience printing on this media. However, at home seed paper use has not been very popular up until now. Even some of the major printer manufacturers have zero to very little experience printing on seed paper and so it can be hard to find good advice on seed paper printing in general. Hopefully as this eco-friendly and sustainable botanical paper becomes more widespread in use, we will see more printer manufacturers making printing equipment suitable for at-home seed paper printing.
Are you ready to start your seed paper printing projects? Check out our seed paper products here.