HOW TO MAKE A PLACENTA PRINT
Placenta: The fresher the placenta the better. If the placenta flesh breaks down it will be hard to work with, and lead to a less defined image. But if you are unable to do this activity right away, you can freeze your placenta and then take it out on a later date, when you are feeling creative.
Good quality art paper: I suggest acid free watercolor paper, something that can hold the weight of the paint or blood. I would recommend buying at least 10 pieces of paper so that at the end you have lots to play with and choose from.
Water Based Printing Ink: You don’t have to use ink, you can use the blood on the placenta, but the image will last longer with the ink. You can use many different kinds of paint or ink; each will give you a different product. I would like to note that I tried to use professional screen-printing oil based ink and it does not work, the paint would not bind to the skin. So avoid oil based products. You could get a high quality inkpad and pad it onto the placenta or water based block printing acrylic ink applied with a roller. I suggest the water based printing ink because it offers great coverage, is affordable, long lasting, nontoxic, and is easy to clean up. The non-toxic piece is essential because if you are a new mother you probably have a young baby around with you while doing this project.
Roller: a block printing roller works best.
Gloves: They are good if you are squeamish or don’t want ink on your hands.
Cloths: To keep placenta on and wipe up mess.
Drop sheet: Large garbage bags will do fine.
String and clips: Not necessary, but make it easier to hang your works as they dry; especially if there are other young ones or a pet around who want to “help” .
MAKE PLACENTA PRINT OUT OF BLOOD AND THEN PAINT
PLACENTA BLOOD PRINT:
1) Retrieve your placenta. If it has been stored in the freezer, defrost it in the fridge in a large wide container, like a pie plate. Do this at least 24 hours before hand as not to damage the tissue.
2) Cover your surface area. You can use a plastic drop sheet or large plastic garbage bags.
3) Place your placenta in desired position on a dishcloth, vein side up, the side against the mother.
4) Grab your paper and gently place it on top of the placenta. You choose where you want the image on the paper.
5) Press with both hands on top of the paper. Being both firm and gentle while moving slowly from the top of the paper to the bottom.
6) Lift the paper off the placenta. If the placenta gets stuck to the paper just remove with care.
7) The blood will leave the mark of a tree like shape on the paper. Do a few prints; each one will be different as the amount of blood on the placenta decreases.
PLACENTA INK PRINT:
8) Rinse the blood off of the placenta. Do this by gently lifting the placenta into a cleaned container. Run your tap as lightly as you can and rinse all of the blood off. Drain the water out, and then lay the placenta down on a clean dishcloth. Pat the water off with tissue and dry cloth. At this point the placenta needs extra gentle handling.
9) Apply the ink with a roller onto the placenta flesh. Place paper on top of placenta, and lift, like you did with the blood prints.
Once dry you can paint on top of your image, go wherever your creative mind leads you. I suggest framing or laminating them to properly preserve them for keepsake.
For the visual learner we have attached a film that walks you through the whole process and photos to see the final product.
Making a placenta print is a fantastic project for new mothers to reflect on their experience of being pregnant and motherhood. I recommend this activity to doulas to complete with their clients, or women to do with their friends that are new mothers. It can help a mother to channel her creative energy while giving her an opportunity to process and speak about all that she has experienced.