The art of hapa-zome – a Japanese printmaking technique that uses the natural pigment in leaves and flowers to dye fabric.
The 30 Days Wild bug bit us and we have continued our outdoor, wild adventures into July/August, making the most of the sunshine! One of our favourite activities is to go on woodland / field walks, and look for all sorts of thing: wild flowers, leaves with interesting vein patterns, mini-beasts, the lot!
Natural dyeing is a fantastic way to get creative with items from around your own home. It can be time-consuming if you’re needing to boil down food items, let it cool to the right temperature, sit in the mixture for a period of time before rinsing. If you find yourself on the impatient side – or want an activity that you can do with the kids and see the almost results, the art of hapa-zome printing could be the perfect starting point.
Hapa-zome means ‘leaf dye’, and is the art of smashing flowers and leaves into fabric. Traditionally, the flowers and leaves will have been arranged into a mandala pattern – but you can do any pattern that takes your fancy!
Using some of the flowers from our garden, and ones we’ve found our walks we decided to give hapa-zome a try. We wrapped the flowers up in a piece of muslin and then went to town with a hammer!
Honestly obsessed with how pretty it turned out. It’s such a quick, easy activity to do with the kids that also leans gently into dangerous play / helping teach safety, boundaries and hand/eye coordination 🙌
- Plain coloured fabric
- Fresh / juicy flowers, leaves, berries etc.
- A hammer, mallet, rolling pin, rock, a generic smashing device (a rubber mallet works well!)
- Wooden board/surface
- Old towel/thick cloth/kitchen roll (optional)
- Forage, scavenge and collect some flowers and leaves
- Set material down onto a wooden board/surface
- On half of the fabric, position the plant materials as desired
- Fold over the other half of the fabric
- (Optional) place an old towel/thick cloth/kitchen roll over the fabric to reduce noise
- Smash the plants into the fabric for several minutes
- Remove the towel, and carefully unfold the fabric – look at your design!
- Hang the fabric to dry – once dried, brush off the plant material
- White or light coloured fabrics will work best
- Cotton fabric works well, especially calico and muslin
- Thicker fabrics seem to work best
- Be careful of poisonous or allergenic plants
- Scour the fabric and apply a mordant before starting. This will help the colour adhere to the fabric and help prevent colour fade.