Plant Dye by Compressing Flowers
Flower pounding or Tataki Zome is an ancient Japanese technique of hammering flower petals on to either paper, fabric or canvas to create designs. Tataki Zome means “leaf dye” this technique was invented by artist India Flint using pigments in leaves and flowers to produce beautiful detailed prints.
What you need...
Large piece of natural fabric such as silk, cotton or linen that can be folded in half.
A smooth wooden board
A strong table that will withhold hammering.
Fresh flower petals or leaves. Choose petals of vibrant colour as these will create the most visible impression.
"if foraging for fresh flowers ensure that you remove any insects before starting the technique. "
Preparing the fabric for dyeing
The first thing you want to do is scour (wash) the fabric to remove any oils or dust, this step will aid the dye to attach to the fabric. I wash all my fabric in a domestic washing machine at 40°C only for the first wash and to do a shrink test. I don’t use any detergent at this stage of the dyeing process.
Once your fabric has been scoured you are ready to mordant (pretreat) your fabric. I use soya milk to pretreat all my fabric (and on a good day I make my own soya milk). Shop bought or homemade the results are much the same from my experience.
I add 500mls of soya milk to 1 litter of water and allow the fabric to soak for 12-14 hours. The fabric is then put back into the washing machine on a spin cycle and then hang to dry. I repeat this process 2-3 times, then label the fabric with the date and pencil in my diary when that particular batch is ready for dyeing.
Let's get started.......!!
Flower pounding transfers colours from flowers or leaves onto fabric. All you need is fresh flower petals or leaves to create your design. This is a wonderful method to preserve flowers from a special occasion to enjoy again and again
Take a few minutes of mindfulness to think about the design/pattern you would like to create. Visualise the colours, the detail of the leaves and how you want to place the petals. Allow yourself this time to be in a creative mindset.
Lay the flower petals onto the fabric. Place each petal face down to create a full impression.
Fold your fabric in half so that when you hammer the petals or leaves it will appear on the other side.
Hammer each petal or leaf under the fabric to transfer the colour onto the fabric. Start hammering the edge of the petals, working your way into the centre to ensure you create a full impression of the petal head or leaf. The fabric may move slightly with hammering so firmly place your hand to stabilise.
Repeat this process on each petal until you have hammered each petal or leaf individually. I like to use the pollen grains from the flowers to add colour to my design. I also use herbs such as turmeric to give more colour. Turmeric is a wonderful herb and rich in phytonutrient.
You will now have a print on both pieces of fabric.
Unfold the fabric and peal the petals or leaves from the fabric.
Allow the fabric to dry for 48 hours and then iron to seal the colour. The heat and metal of the iron helps with colourfastness and enhancing the prints.
"petals require little effort when hammering while leaves need a lot more force to transfer their colour. "
This is such a beautiful technique to learn and a fun activity to share with children, while preserving an ancient technique. I love the idea of passing a skill and knowledge from one generation to another. I use Tataki Zome technique to gift wrap presents in fabric for family and friends, using their favourite flower to create my designs. Their reaction on discovering the personal thought is for ever memorable.
founder of Cosy Organic
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