When I made my lavender sachets last year, decorated with hammered lavender flowers, I experimented with making hammered prints of all sorts of different leaves and flowers; my favorite leaf prints were the hammered shamrock prints that I knew would be perfect for St. Patrick's day.
Making hammered prints is a fun activity for all (most) ages, and kids are amazed by how well they turn out. Whether or not you consider yourself an artist, this project can make you look like one.
Sound like fun?
It is. So let's get started…
1. Go on a nature hike and look for pretty clovers that you want to use for your hammered shamrock prints. (My son was still excited to help me out at this point.)
The warm weather has finally started to arrive here, so I was really excited to get outside and do this. Unfortunately, right when I was getting ready to do it, it started to get rainy and cold again! That's why my little guy is back in his winter coat again!!
2. Decide where you want to make your print. The great thing about hammered leaf printing is that you can use it to decorate a variety of paper and cloth projects. Everything from cards and stationary to t-shirts and kitchen towels can be easily decorated.
It takes a bit of experimentation to find out what types of paper or cloth are going to work best with different types of leaves or flowers, and I've found that when working with fabric, natural fibers like cotton tend to absorb and hold the dye from the plants better.
3. Look for a solid, smooth surface over which you can place your fabric or paper. Use something that you don't mind staining or denting!
Last time I used a pine board, but found that the veining of the wood showed up. This time I used a wood cutting board, which was much smoother than my scrap wood was, and it worked much better.
4. Cover your work surface with the cloth or paper onto which you want to hammer your flower or leaves. With the clover leaves, a muslin type fabric seemed to work the best for me. It absorbed the dye well and evenly, making the prettiest prints.
5. Place your leaves or flowers into position on the board, and cover them with another layer of cloth or some paper towels. Covering them helps hold them in place and also absorbs some of the released dyes so that they don't bleed all over the place. While the paper towel worked OK, I think the cloth made a better backing and also has the advantage of letting me stamp two cloth pieces at once. 😉
6. Lightly tap over the entire surface of the clover or leaves you are using. This helps hold the materials in place. While you can see in the picture that we tried to use a rubber mallet, it didn't do a very good job. I found a normal hammer to work best!
7. Once you've gone over everything lightly, start hammering all over the entire surface of your leaves with a bit more force. If you are using a cloth backing, you should start to see the dye from the plants starting to seep through.
8. When the dye seeps through pretty evenly, you have probably done a good job of hammering, and should be ready to open it up and admire your work. The plant material will probably be sticking to the fabric. You can either carefully peel it off right away, or let it dry a little and then peel it off.
That's all there is to it!
Admire your work!
Do I think this is a kid-friendly project?
You do have to be a bit careful not to bang your finger, so it's probably best suited for older kids.
My son had fun picking clovers for me, but got bored before it was his turn to bang on the clovers. I was't too upset about ir because I have to admit that I was a bit worried about how I was going to get home to do it right and without hurting himself and-or me!
I guess it really depends on their maturity level, and the amount of supervision they get. Just be careful!
I've washed a few of the hammered cloth prints, and they've held up pretty well to regular washing. (You know how hard it is to get grass stain out, right? Same concept!)
I think using individual clover leaves, making clover “Heart” prints, could be cute year round for all sorts of different projects.
If you try it, I'd love to see what sorts of things you make!
Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!