Hapa zome- leaf-bashing

July 12, 2017

A natural way to create your own amazing leaf prints on cloth.

Author: Muddy Faces

Age Range: 3+

Duration: less than an hour

Location: anywhere

Time Of Day: any time

Season: any

Tags: hammer, hapa zome, leaf, natural materials, print, textiles, tools, wooden disc

Category: art & creating tool use & traditional crafts


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 stone are ideal.
For bashing with, 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.

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.

Fern leaves lying on a plain wooden disc

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.

hitting a piece of cloth with a hammer

Step 4

Continue tapping until you have covered the whole area.

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.

hapa zome leaf bashing