This technique allows you to transfer the dye from the plants (flower and/or leaves)
to a piece of fabric to make interesting designs. The fabric gets
a special chemical treatment first so the plant dyes are stable.
The resulting design is not washable (it would fade) but it can be dry cleaned.
These designs can be used on wall art, in scrapbooks and on cards.
When you read these instructions, do not get discouraged. It is a bit of a pain preparing the
fabric, but remember you only have to do it once and you get lots and lots of little squares and
can do lots of pounding with 1 yard of fabric. The pounding itself goes very fast ... instant gratification!
- 1 or more yards of 100% cotton muslim (bleached or unbleached), treated as described below.
- Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (to treat fabric) I found this at the grocery store in the laundry aisle.
- Alum or Aluminum Sulfate (to treat fabric) (Alum is used in pickling, Aluminum Sulfate is a soil acidifier.
Since you use so much, aluminum sulfate is much cheaper if you can find it.)
In Austin I was able to find both at Callahan's General Store.
- Large bowl or bucket (to treat fabric)
- Measruing cup, a teaspoon and a tablespoon (to measure ingredients to treat fabric.)
- Old spoon or stick (I used a free paint stirrer) to mix fabic with chemicals
- Good quality, wide, white 3M Masking tape
- Piece of wood or something safe to pound on
- Optional: Permanent black fabric pen to outline the design.
- Flowers or Leaves to pound (these must be fresh so don't pick them until everything is ready)
These instructions are for 1 yard of fabric. If you do more you must increase the ingredients proportionaly.
- Wash fabric in hot water using laundry detergent and 2 Tablespoons of washing soda.
- Rinse at least 3 times.
- In a bucket or large bowl (preferably in a laundry or utility sink) dissolve 1/4 cup alum
(or aluminum sulfate) in 2 cups of hot water.
- Place the fabric in this bucket or large bowl and swish it in the solution.
- In a measuring cup dissolve 1 teaspoon washing soda in 1/2 cup hot water and add this to the bucket.
It will cause a reaction and lots of bubbles. Stir it around a bit more.
- Let it soak overnight.
- Wring it out (I used rubber gloves) and hang it up to dry.
- When it is almost dry, iron it smooth.
- Cut muslim (as needed) into desired sizes for use. (3-4 inches square is a good starting size.)
Directions for Pounding
- Select the flowers and/or leaves to be pounded.
- Place them face down on the muslim.
- Tape the flowers/leaves to the muslim with masking tape. It may take two or three pieces depending
on how wide your fabric is.
- Turn it over so it muslim side up and place it on a board or stable surface.
- Take the hammer and start hitting it (pounding it) until you like the pattern.
- Peel the making tape of and let dry. It will only take a few minutes. The flower/leaf will remain on the masking tape
but the juices from the plants will dye the fabric.
- Do another. Try different plants.
You may find some plants are too dry to pound well. You may find some plants are too juicy and the
design smears. You may be surprised at the colors that appear on the fabric .... it doesn't always match
the color of the flower. For example white rose petals pound light green. Red ones pound purple. That's
part of the fun, experimenting!
Enhancement and Uses for the Completed Pounding
Enhancements and Variations
When dry .....
- You can place a plastic stencil on the muslim before adding leaves and tape. The natural leaf
dye will stencil a design as you pound.
- If you use the flat end of the hammer you get a clear outline and solid patter of the leaf and flower. If you
use the round end you get a dappled pattern. Both are pretty.
- You can outline your design with a permanent black fabric marker to give it a different look.
- You can embellish it with stiching or quilting
Uses for the Designs
When dry .....
She would even use the plants left on the masking tape. She would trim them and use them in cards either
directly or under velum.
- Use it on a card.
- Use as wall art.
- Scan it with your scanner and print it on a photo iron-on transfer to be used in a quilt or on a teeshirt.
- Use it as part of a scrapbook. The lady who showed me how to do this, took a lot of squares of muslim
with her on their camping trip (they also have an Aliner trailer), and every place they stopped she pounded a couple
of plants from that area, and put the squares in her srapbook she was keeing of the trip.
- HGTV_Pounding Very similar instructions but without the masking tape.
- Flower Pounding: Quilt Projects for All Ages by Ann Frischkorn and Amy Sandrin (Paperback - Mar 2001)
- The Art and Craft of Pounding Flowers by Laura C. Martin (Paperback - Sep 13, 2003)
Disclaimer: Jeannie, who taught this process had much more beautiful results. She also had much
more experience. In my defense, we are in the middle of a drought and my choice of materials was quite limited.
Of course, I am too cheap to buy some flowers.
Many of the leaves are too dry right now to pound. At Dorothy's we had used some small flowers of verbena which
Turk's Cap Petals
Vinca (red originally) & Plumbego
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