Hapa Zome (Leaf Whacking) is a traditional Japanese art of pounding leaves and flowers with hammers to release their pigment onto cloth.
In contemporary textiles this technique has been beautifully developed and explored by colour artist India Flint. The process itself, however has been used for centuries. (Here is an example of India Flints stunning work using heat and leaves.)
I was introduced to the technique at Forest School training. It really is a wonderful activity to do with kids and adults alike.
To make Hapa Zome you will need:
- -Some cotton fabric (different weights work equally well but do produce slightly different results)
- -A small hammer
- -Masking tape
- -Wooden board e.g. chopping board or a smooth, hard surface to work on
- -Some leaves and flowers
(the leaves that you choose definitely make a difference to the printing effect so it is good to experiment. Juicy leaves and flowers that are full of moisture work the best, and so summer is a great time to try this activity as everything is in full bloom.)
Lets get whacking!
To make your print you can either masking tape your leaves and flowers to the fabric, or you can create a mirror effect by folding your fabric in half with your leaves and flowers in the middle. Tape the material to your board or a suitable working surface to secure it while you whack.
Now gently hammer your leaves and flowers till you are happy that the die from the leaves and flowers has saturated the fabric. (Remember to keep kids safe, keep the hammer low and watch those fingers!)
And voila, peel the tape and smashed up bits of plant matter of your print to reveal your work.
(In this picture we are also using mud paints to decorate our fabric…and check out our hand made mallets for whacking!)
If you’d like to set your print you can soak the fabric in a ‘mordant’ solution such as strong tea for at least 4 hours. This also gives the printed fabric a nice earthy, antiquey effect.
Leaf whacking is a great activity that appeals to people of all ages and gender. There is definitely a therapeutic quality to hitting things with hammers!