Several weeks ago I heard about “leaf pounding” which is a way to use the juices in a leaf to make an imprint on paper or fabric. It seemed like a fun idea to immortalize a favorite leaf and create a unique shirt (and involve kids). I searched around for instructions and decided that I liked these instructions the best.
I found that their tip to tape the leaf down with masking tape was a good one. Once you start pounding with a hammer, the leaf can slip around so don’t skimp. The best color comes from taping the leaf to the front of the fabric (like a shirt) and then turning it inside out to pound. Be careful, the color can go through to the other side of the shirt so put some paper between fabric layers.
|Netted chain fern, initial taping|
My husband had a thin board and that worked well for doing it on the counter; I could not imagine trying to do this in my lap as they suggested. The hammering does make a lot of noise so others might want to leave the house for a while.
It is late in the season so it is possible this would work better earlier in the year when leaves have maximum moisture. I used 4 different types of leaves (all native, of course!): netted chain fern, oakleaf hydrangea, redbud, and oak. The stems and mid-rib of the leaf are the juiciest so I thought the fern did the best because it has a lot of mid-ribs. I do agree with their recommendation that you pound all the edges first.
|He loved to pound the stems, they were juicy|
Of course, I got the grandkid involved to make a shirt of his own and then we made one for his mom. He especially wanted to use the ‘heart’ leaves (redbud). I have the cultivar Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’ and while the burgundy was mostly faded, it came through well on the stem. Once the sassafras and maple leaves start to turn orange, I plan to try one of those to get some color.
If you’d like to preserve some leaves in a unique way or create a very nature-themed shirt, consider giving this a try.
|Upper left: oakleaf hydranga; Right: redbud and netted chain ferns|