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Muddy Faces

Hapa zome- leaf-bashing

A simple children's craft activity using a hammer to create amazing leaf prints on cloth.

Art & Creating


Hapa zome is really fun and is such a simple and satisfying activity. Particularly suited to anyone who likes bashing with a hammer!

* Muddy Faces actively promotes child-led outdoor play & learning. We recognise and believe in the curiosity that children have and their drive to explore and discover. We hope that you will bear this in mind when considering more prescribed activities like this one – often much more creative ideas will occur if resources are simply provided and children are given the time and space to explore independently.

What you'll need

  • calico/cotton/paper
  • hammer/pebble/stone for bashing
  • fern fronds, leaves, flowers or other natural materials
  • board for hammering on to

This activity has been provided by

Useful items from our shop

Item available from our shop

Environmental Considerations

Consider the environmental impact of preparing, carrying out & completing this activity. Could this impact be reduced? Specific considerations for this activity could include:

  • source of leaf bashing material

Health & Safety Considerations

Follow your usual operating procedures and carry out appropriate risk benefit assessments.
Some considerations particular to this activity include:

  • tool use

Collect a number of natural materials to print from. To produce a good print they need moisture in them – moist leaves and grasses work very well – a completely dried-out leaf not so much. Fallen autumn leaves can often have enough moisture in them to extract some wonderful colours.

You’ll need a firm, flat surface to place the items onto to be able to withstand the hammering – a wooden slice,chopping board or a flat stoneare ideal.

For bashing, suitable implements include: mallets,
hammers or rounded cobbles. We find small hammers are ideal. If you use cobbles make sure your bashing technique avoids crushing little (or big) fingers.

Art & Creating

Step #1

Place a fern, frond, flower or leaf onto a flat, preferably smooth, surface.

Step #2

Cover it with the fabric or paper. Try to hold this in the same position while you are bashing so you get a nice clear print.

Art & Creating

Step #3

Gently tap the natural material underneath the fabric, trying to keep the hammer head as flat as possible as you bash it. The aim is to crush the plant gently so the colours are released but it is not smashed to bits.

Tap repeatedly until the colour of the plant starts to come through the fabric.

Art & Creating

Step #4

Continue tapping until you have covered the whole area.

Art & Creating

Step #5

Peel off the fabric or paper, the natural colourings in the plant should have stained the material.

NB: during winter leaves and plants often have a lot less water in them which means this activity requires a bit more careful prep and persistence when hammering.

Take it further:

  • try collecting different types, shapes and colours of leaves and notice the differences
  • cut your prints out to make a tree collage
  • cut into triangles and make hapa zome bunting or flags with your group’s name
  • try different materials to bash onto, such as wooden discs.

Disclaimer: Muddy Faces cannot take any responsibility for accidents or damage that occurs as a result of following this activity.You are responsible for making sure the activity is conducted safely.

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