CraftSanity On TV: Leaf Pounding 101

by jennifer

Today my “Take Five” craft segment on WZZM Channel 13 was about leaf pounding. I got inspired to try leaf pounding after a recent trip to the Wittenbach/Wege Agriscience and Environmental Education Center, 11715 Vergennes Road, in Lowell where they teach children how to transfer color from leaves to fabric by pounding leaves sandwiched between fabric with rocks.

Leaf pounding is a very unpredictable craft because you never know exactly how a particular leaf will print until you try it and no two leaves will perform exactly the same. These unknowns make this craft all the more fun.

To try this on your own, gather up the following supplies:

* a hammer or smooth rock that fits in the palm of your hand

* fabric scraps  (I like working with pre-washed cotton muslin.)

* a handful of fresh leaves gently picked from nearby trees (Leaves on the ground have started to try out, so work with fresh leaves to get the best prints.)

* Wood board to protect your work surface

To transfer the color from the leaves to fabric, simply sandwich a leaf between two pieces of fabric and pound with a rock or hammer. I try to pound the outline of the leaf first and then fill in the shape with more pounding.

If one leaf is not releasing a lot of bright color, try another one. My best results have come from bright red leaves picked from burning bush shrubs in my neighborhood (as shown in photo at top of this post). Keep pounding leaves until you’re happy with the look of your fabric and then set it aside to dry. Once dry, you can remove the remains of the leaves.

Hang up your leaf prints as is, or use them to create a festive fall banner.

I’m going to do some more experimenting and investigate what I can do to make these prints colorfast and will report back on my findings. Have any of you tried this? If so, please share your observations in the comments below and feel free to include links to your projects. I’d love to see what you’ve made.

In the meantime, check out these links for more info:

* Bettye Kimbrell’s Leaf Pounding video demo (I haven’t tried her masking tape method yet, but it looks like it works great.)

* Cherokee Leaf Pounding and Quilting

* Leaf “Whapping”

And for more fall crafting inspiration, check out my recent craft column that was published in The Grand Rapids Press.

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