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Hapa-zome a great spring craft...

Introducing my favourite nature craft: Hapa-zome, also known as leaf dye or leaf pounding!

Hapa -zome is a Japanese term meaning 'leaf-dye and involves pounding the dye from a flower or leaf onto material or paper! I find this craft is as popular with the adults as it is the children. This is one of my favourite nature crafts and spring is a great time to have a go as the flowers and leaves are very juicy & full of pigment! And it’s the pigment from the flora we want to pound out!

a child proudly holding her hapa zome print
Hapa Zome print

Hapa Zome is a bit of a contradiction to my normal practice, as I generally advise children not to pick flowers and leaves, to leave them for the insects. So during this activity I give them permission to choose a few flowers and leaves to pound and destroy! Like I said, a contradiction! But, I do encourage them to choose just a small handful of flowers & leaves, rather than a manic basketful that won’t get used.

What you need:

  • Material (old bed sheets, or natural calico material – cotton works well)

  • Flat, hard surface – such as a wooden board

  • Hammer, mallet or stone to pound the material

  • Small selection of leaves and flowers freshly picked

TIP: Pick and use straight away, as they will be at their juiciest!

flower heads laid onto cotton material before they get bashed with a hammer, using the technique of Hapa Zome
One way to lay out the flowers on the material

How to make Hapa Zome prints:

  • I like to place the flowers onto a flat piece of material, cover with another piece and bash to release the pigment.

  • Try to remember what you have placed in the cloth then you can follow the shape of the leaves or flowers to get the full effect.

  • Once you have finished pounding, open up the material and scratch away the left over bits of flowers and leaves.

It’s such a simple but effective way to imprint the flowers and leaves it’s hard not to be impressed when you open your material up. You can also print onto card.

a child is using a stubby hammer to bash the material to release the pigment in the flowers to create a nice pattern
leaf pounding in progress

What can you make?

  • Simply print on material for the sheer enjoyment!

  • Print on canvas tote bags

  • Cut out triangle shapes and make bunting

  • Flags

  • Bookmarks

  • Some people like to print onto clothing, but you will need a mordant to help fix the colours.

  • If printing on cards – birthday, thank you cards etc.

Benefits of Hapa Zome

  • It’s great fun, is the overarching reason!

  • It’s a great way to help children identify flowers and leaves, notice their shapes and colours.

  • Children use their fine motor skills picking and arranging the flowers and leaves.

  • An element of risky play – as children are using hammers or rocks to bash.

Safety if crafting with young children

  • Hammers: model how to use a hammer safely. Make sure they are supervised and if they get distracted and start to look around redirect them or suggest they come back to the activity later and let them move onto their next thing.

  • Flowers & leaves: talk to the children about not eating the flowers and leaves as some may be poisonous & supervise the children throughout the activity.

Recommended flowers and leaves

I don’t want to suggest too many as one of the joys is finding out which works well – here are a few:

I would love to know if you have a go and how you get on – please do share your experiences below in the comments or tag me on social media:

  • Instagram - @wildthingsforestsch

  • Facebook - @wildthingsforestsch

  • Tik Tok - @staywild365

If you are local to York, Hapa Zome is one of the activities we’ll be doing in this Spring block, if you would like to join us click below.

If you would like more ideas like this then why not join my NEW Facebook group - Stay Wild - where you can get free forest school inspired activity ideas.

Stay Wild



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