You will need a rubber or rawhide mallet. Either will work, but the rubber mallet has more surface, so you won't have to pound as long. You can also use a metal hammer, but you have to be careful and tap gently.
You will need at least two sheets of card stock (preferred) or copier paper (some say this type of paper doesn't absorb the dye well).
Alternately, you can use 100% cotton or linen fabric that has been prepared for dyeing (PFD) or is vintage and has been washed many times.
And of course, you will need some flowers. Younger flowers will have less color, older ones' colors will be more intense. Pick flowers early in the day after the dew has left the flowers.
Although I've pounded other flowers, I wanted to see if an iris was really as juicy as I thought it would be. I've had irises drop dead onto tablecloths or doilies before, leaving a horrible stain, so I felt they would be great candidates for this project.
I began by gently tapping the flower. I really wanted to test the flower to see how much pounding would be required and how much "juice" I could expect. I suggest you test any and every flower type you plan to pound. It never hurts to be thorough.
It looked like this iris would be a good candidate for flower pounding. Now it was time to take it apart and demonstrate the technique of flower pounding.
I began by placing individual petals on one sheet of the card stock. This is not like pressing flowers, where you can leave the flower whole (intact). The secret to good flower pounding is separating each petal and gently laying it in a pleasing arrangement.
As with flower painting or stamping, most of us know the back side of leaves will produce a better image. Position your flowers or leaves so the back side is the important side of your image and decide which sheet of paper will get the important side. You can see in the above photo, I placed some of the petals facing one direction and some facing the other, giving each sheet of card stock the opportunity to take advantage of the back side of certain petals.
When you have the arrangement you want, place the second sheet of card stock in place. Begin by gently tapping the flower into place. Some authorities believe you should tape the pages or fabric in place, but I've never done it that way.
After the flower is "seated" on the paper, begin pounding until you see the image through the back. That way, the flower won't "walk" on you and create shadows. Of course, this might be the look you are going for.
You will know when you have your desired impression, because it will show through on the back side of your card stock. I prefer to pound my flower, then add my leaves and stem. If you have a particularly "juicy" flower, you may need to occasionally wipe your hammer to remove some of the juice and keep it from spreading.
Gently lift or remove the top piece. Remove the now pulverized flower and/or leaves. If any pieces flake off,
or stick to the paper, DO NOT REMOVE THEM until they are dry. Wait until the pulp has dried, then gently remove it with a soft brush or your fingernail. And DO as I say, not as I did!! I got a bit too eager, so that's why there are "empty" spots on the left page.
Hopefully, the other two irises will be easier, now that I remember how to do this technique.
Ruminations and tips:
I found pounding the iris on card stock worked best. The card stock absorbed less moisture, while the copy/printer paper absorbed a lot of moisture from the iris and left both papers wet a long time after the pounding.
If you have trouble getting the flowers pounded, place your papers-and-flower sandwich on a hard board, such as a cutting board. Be sure to pound all of the flower or the area you miss will be obvious and show on the paper.
Pound one flower at a time, allowing it to dry completely before adding another flower to your design. That holds true for flowers that are the same variety and color, as well as different flower varieties.
Don't try to pound two different variety flowers at once. The "juice" from one flower will stain and contaminate the other flower.
Although similar, flower pounding on fabric is a bit different and has various characteristics and drawbacks. I hope to put together a tutorial on pounding flowers on fabric soon.
Don't forget to admire your art, and please let me know if you try this.