Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pound that flower

I've been asked to explain about flower pounding. I have done flower pounding in the past, but never created a tutorial for it, or explained what it is. Basically you dye fabric or paper by hammering or pounding the flower onto the fabric or paper. When the pulverized flower is removed, the color or colors remain on the paper or in the fabric. All flowers need to have their calyxes, pistils and/or stamens removed. White flowers like the peonies in my vase don’t work as they have no pigment to transfer onto the paper.

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.


18 thoughtful remarks:

Virginia said...

Wow that's amazing, just need some flowers now - and less rain would be good too!

Dianne said...

great way to 'pound away' your frustrations! I tried this with a group of friends several years ago. Cosmos made an excellent impression and then after it was dry, I could draw on the page. The colors were often surprising, usually much lighter on the paper than what we saw in the actual flower.

Darla said...

Interesting and so informative as your tutorials always are. Our Iris are pretty much gone but we will have cosmos this summer. Since Dianne mentioned using those I'm going to try flower pounding then.


Hettie said...

Great Tut Elizabeth. I remember my Mum got "into" this and made a beautiful quilt using oranges and greens. I might have to give it a go if ever the rain stops to let the flowers grow in some sunshine!

Nancy said...

Interesting... thanks for posting this!

Unknown said...

Oh what a super cool project- I'm now trying to figure out a way to it with my students! Do you think it would work with water color paper? I think we might play around and experiment. Thanks so much for this inspiration!

JoZart Designs said...

I think I might like to try this on my altered book pages.... when I get it started. Tee hee! Have had so much going on and after our lovely day out and WOYWWers meet up yesterday we are going to a wedding tomorrow. Busy week. Thanks for the inspiration....
Lv JoZarty x

elle said...

Very informative, Elizabeth.

Carol said...

Oh I will definitely be trying this and very soon!!!

SandeeNC said...

If I didn't live in an apartment I would try this out but I don't think the elderly lady that lives below me would appreciate my pounding away! Leave it to you though to come up with something so very unique! waving hi from the hills of North Carolina :)

Craftymoose Crafts said...

Great tut, Elizabeth! I'll have to wait until a little later in the year before I have some flowers to pound! Thanks for showing this, and I am interested to see it done on fabric, too!

Caterina Giglio said...

very interesting E... is it color fast? light sensitive? just wondering, I like the effect!

...the yorkshire fox... said...

...a very interesting post, I will definately give this a go as the possibilities are endless for making incredible papers...thank you...Mel :)

Sandy said...

Wow! Who would have thought - indeed interesting!

Dandelion and Daisy said...

I played with leaves last fall so, now, I'll have to try flowers. Lots of fun stuff you could do with these ponded flower pages. I love it when you do all the trial and error stuff for us and share your helpful suggestions making it easy for the reader.

~*~Patty S said...

Love this every step of the way Elizabeth...thanks so much...I tried flower pounding once long ago and was not thrilled with my results

You make me want to give it a whirl again because you got great results!


Unknown said...

I have done this before and forgot all about it .... Thanks so much for the reminder ... And the irises worked GREAT for this!! Lilies stain too - I'll bet they work great as well!

Stitching Lady said...

Elizabeth, this is so fantastic, the idea of flower pounding. I tried it out and put the result on my blog: - linking back to your blog.
Thank you so much for this lovely experiment with flower colors.