30 Days Wild - Day Twenty-three - Get crafty

30 Days Wild - Day Twenty-three - Get crafty

Hapazome printing by Debbie McKenzie

Using nature to create beautiful prints - for all ages!

30 Days Wild is all about enjoying and appreciating nature, and a great way to do that is to be inspired by it to create something that captures some of its beauty. Hapa Zome is an activity that I have found visitors to our Environmental Education Centre at Paxton Pits of all ages enjoy - from small children to grandparents!

The technique was developed by artist India Flint when she needed to create forest floor scenery for a play in Japan.  She ended up gathering leaves and pounding them into fabric. Hapa Zome is a kitchen Japanese phrase that means 'leaf dye'.

The technique is so simple, but the key is experimenting until you are happy with the results!

You will need 

  • A block of wood, or a sturdy chopping board.
  • A hammer - although I tend to prefer to use a mallet at family drop-in sessions
  • Pale cotton fabric, although different types of fabric will yield different results. 
  • Fabric scraps for testing
  • Coloured flowers and leaves gathered from a garden. Different species will give different results, for example pansies are brilliant. Their central markings and the amount of dye in these flowers give great results. Darker colours and purple flowers are successful including species such as cosmos. Whilst some flowers or leaves yield little colour, flowers from species such as evening primrose contain too much moisture and just make a yellow 'smoosh' on the fabric! You can get some really lovely effects with leaves and flowers that show a change in colour and markings across one single leaf or petal.
Some flowers laid across the table

Flowers laid out ready for Hapa Zome experimenting

Gather your flowers - just one or two of each at first to experiment with. Try to pick things that there are plenty of, so you save some for the bees, butterflies and beetles. A range of colours will look very pretty, but it's your design so get creative!

Start with a piece of test scrap fabric and test the flowers you've picked. It's best to do this before harvesting lots and then finding they don't yield enough colour. 

The key is to experiment with various flowers, as the results vary so much, before preparing your final piece.

Flowers laid out on a piece of fabric with a mallet laid nearby, ready to use

Lay out your flowers, and cover with fabric.

Lay the fabric onto the board with the side you want to print facing upwards. (Ensure you do this on sturdy surface - outside on the ground is ideal.) 

Place a flower, face-down, onto the fabric. Lay over this a piece of scrap fabric or clear plastic.

Hammer ALL OVER the leaf or flower, ensuring you have covered the area especially the edges of petals or leaves.

Remove the scrap fabric or plastic and any remaining fragments of flower to see if it's worked.

A printing with pink and yellow flowers and red and green leaves

Hapazome printing by Debbie McKenzie

Once you get an idea of what is working, you can go on to make up the full design, or as I did here start with one flower or leaf and add to incrementally.

Enjoy the beautiful results!

Variations include:-

  • Folding the fabric in half, over the top of the leaves and flowers, to create two prints from one leaf or flower. 
  • Covering the flower with masking tape, attaching the flower to the fabric, and then flipping the fabric over and hammering directly onto the fabric side.
  • Hapa Zome onto paper, such as watercolour paper.
Hapa Zome printing laid out, complete

Hapa Zome results come through on both sides of the material

Day 23 icon for 30 Days Wild


Ways to go wild...

Get crafty! Hapa Zome printing is one way to make beautiful things from nature - there are loads more things you can do. Why not create your own natural dyes?

Events during June for 30 Days Wild...

We've got loads going on to help you go wild in our three counties. Visit our calendar for a full list of events.