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The blog of designer-maker Laura Thompson who specializes in fibre art, including art dolls, bowls, art journals and artful clothing.  Creativity, kindness, understanding and patience. 

 

 

Flower Pounding on Fabric - Part 1

There are many ways to make your own, one-of-a-kind fabrics, among them dyeing, stamping and painting can be fun and interesting. However, pounding flowers and leaves to transfer the colour from foliage and petals to fabric can be both interesting and thoughtful.

My daughter was married last week and we had several floral arrangements from the wedding in the house. Although the flowers had vibrant colours they would only last a few more days before heading to the compost pile. I decided to use the the blooms while they were still vivid  and create a few one-of-a-kind fabric swatches. Today I will focus on the flower pounding technique. Next week I will show you how I used the resulting "wedding flower fabric" to create a keepsake for my daughter.

Four days after the wedding the arrangement looked a little tired, but many of the colours were still quite vivid.Four days after the wedding the arrangement looked a little tired, but many of the colours were still quite vivid.Four days after the wedding the arrangement looked a little tired, but many of the colours were still quite vivid.

Four days after the wedding the arrangement looked a little tired, but many of the colours were still quite vivid.

Four days after the wedding the arrangement looked a little tired, but many of the colours were still quite vivid.

I pulled apart the flowers and randomly scattered the petals between two pieces of white cotton.

I then set about pounding the petals with a hammer. The petals will fly about as you bang them so a second piece of fabric is absolutely necessary. The bonus is you get two pieces of uniquely coloured fabric!

Pounding breaks down the fleshy leaves and petals, releasing colour. The fabric will be wet from the moisture in the petals, and a mushy, sticky wet mess of petal residue will remain on the fabric.

 

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I used an old credit card to scrape off the bigger bits of petal and leaf residue. Removing the remaining smaller bits is much easier if you let the fabric dry first. Almost everything will brush off easily with an old soft tooth brush. Do not rinse the fabric in order to remove the petal residue. This will wash away the colour released by the petals. 

 

 

If you are impatient, place the wet fabric between two pieces of parchment and press with a hot iron. It may take several minutes, but the fabric will dry. However, be aware that any remaining bits of petal and leaf residue will be somewhat fused to the fabric and may need lots of scraping to remove them.

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Once the fabric is dry and the residue has been removed, press it for several minutes with a hot iron to set the colours. The final fabric will be a striking resemblance to the original flowers and leaves but the colours will be more subdued. I do not launder fabrics made with flower pounding as I am not certain about the fastness of the colour. However, experience has taught me that most stains (purposeful or otherwise) become permanent over time. If you want the fabric to be absolutely colour fast I recommend you use another technique or investigate the use of a suitable mordent.

This technique works best with soft, fleshy leaves and flowers. Hard and drier flowers and leaves often lack enough moisture to release any colour. If you are unsure, always test a few flowers on a scrap of fabric first.