This is a great time to try this art. The leaves are full of moisture and just right to be hammered.
Before choosing leaves the fabric needs to be prepared. Here are supplies you will need for this process.
- 100% white cotton fabric (yard)
- washing soda (available at most grocery stores)
- alum (aluminum sulfate) found in spice area
- container to soak fabric
- wax paper
- masking tape
- fresh leaves
Preparing the fabric:
- Wash fabric in hot water with 2 tablespoons of Washing Soda in washing machine with regular laundry detergent.
- In the container, add 2 ozs of alum to 1 pint of hot water and dissolve.
- Add wet washed fabric to container. When cool, add 1 teaspoon of washing soda and add additional warm water to make a gallon.
- Soak overnight.
- Hang to dry and then iron.
Now that the fabric is prepared, it’s time to get your printing area ready. On a hard surface, stack newspapers as padding and then top with the fabric. I cut mine in small sizes to fit my printing surface. I also put wax paper over the newspaper so that the fabric does not sit directly on the newspaper.
Then it’s time to pick some leaves. I tried a variety of leaves from lemon balm to ferns. The hostas and lemon balm didn’t do well. The best leaves I have found so far are coleus.
Place your leaves Vein Side Down. This is really important to be able to get a good print. Then cover the leaf with masking tape.
Now turn over and hammer. As you hammer, the leaves will appear.
Once you think it looks done, turn it over and peel off the leaf. This was not the best print but the only one I took a picture of me removing the leaf.
Here is another one which is more defined.
Once the fabric is dry, rinse it with a little washing soda and hang to dry. When dry, iron and you have your print.
Now to decide what to do with this. I outlined with a green micron pen. That would be fine and finished, but wait!
It’s off to the sewing machine with a quilt sandwich.
I also outlined the veins with a brown Pigma brush pen but didn’t like the results. I did find outlining before sewing makes it easier to follow the lines.
These leaves would look good on a wall hanging or sewn to a purse. For now, I’ll just sit and look at mine. You know – it’s all about the process!!
Wow, very cool. I would not have thought to try this, but it’s such a beautiful effect. Thank you for sharing!
Eileen, Thanks. It is really a neat project, but doesn’t work on all leaves.
These are just gorgeous! Love how they turned out!
Beautiful, especially with the stitching!! Such a cool technique as well!
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If I haven’t said it before…and it looks like I haven’t, this experiment is wonderful, Lynda. I see all kinds of possibilities of doing these on small pieces of cloth and making a little bag out of it.
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I’m wondering if I could just use the soda soak method I use before I dye fabric? Nice results on your leaves.
Diane, if you are using fabric reactive dyes, you need to follow the procedures for those products to make sure the dye adheres to the material.
Gorgeous! Love the stitching on the leaf prints.
we made some of these last summer and had all sorts of creative ideas. like doing them on a pillowcase or sheet edge. or using spice leaves, and doing them on an apron for a gift for a cook.
Jan, What great ideas for this art! Thanks. Lynda
I’m excited about trying this. Will the printed fabric be washable afterwards or will the print wash out? Thankyou
Dawn, I wasn’t planning on washing them so I’m not sure. However, this morning I hand washed one of these pieces and even with me rubbing on the design it didn’t come off. If you really want to make sure the design doesn’t come off, you could scan your design and print it on fabric that can be heat set. Then you’d also be able to duplicate the image on the project. Thanks for dropping by.
Just wondering what happens when you wash the fabric after the printing and quilting process – does the colour taken from the leaf come off? (Apologies if this is a daft question – is that what the fabric prep process is for?) Thanks, Jo
Hi Jo! Not a daft question at all! If you check the comments I answered this earlier in that I did hand wash it and it was fine. Yes, that is why you prep the fabric with alum since it’s the mordant to help adhere the color to the fabric. I would probably not send this through the washing machine or wash it real often since it probably would fade. As I mentioned in that comment, you could scan your leaf and then print out. Hope that helps!
Wow, this is marvelous! Have you tried hammering leaves on silk? I think I will try it since I have this nettle plant and probably early autumn is the right time to do it.
Nada, no, I’ve not tried this on silk. I bet it would work. I’d love to see what you do! Thanks for dropping by.
Thank you very nice
Mina, You are welcome. Thanks for dropping by.
This is beautiful and I can’t wait to try it!
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Connie, I’ve been wanting to do this for at least a month. I have had the fabric all ready, but now I’m concerned the leaves may be too dry since we’ve not had much rain in a long time. Let me know how yours turns out.
Thank you so much for sharing this technique. Is the print washable, can you print onto fabric that will be used for clothes? Thank you. Xx
Andy, I wouldn’t wash this. However, I’ve not done any testing.
wish I saw this before my vacation I just got back from. I spent 2 weeks hiking in Hawaii and saw the most amazing leaves with fantastic textures. I kept thinking over and over I wish I could have captured them somehow. I did take some pictures of some of them but I think this would have been really great to make a momento picture book of the trip.
Debra, Sounds like you had a great time. I brought back some seed pods from Hawaii one year and used them as stamps. Here is the post: https://lyndaheines.blog/2012/02/hawaiian-seed-pod-crafting/ I know the leaves would have made some great art, but your pictures of the leaves will also make a great picture book.
How did you dye the fabric first and what dye did you use to dye it purple?
Ivette, There is no dye in this project. The color of the leaves come from the leaves.
The result is beautiful! Thank you for the simple, clear and concise explanation. I can’t wait to try it!
Cheryl, Thank you! Glad you found this post. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I might have to try it again! Thanks again for stopping by and commenting.