This all started with an email from my lovely friend Leonie Hartley Hoover.
I thought her design (above) was most intriguing!
Leonie included a link to a tutorial for how to do this here:
And this was what she had to say about her experience:
There are a few tutes out there on the net and I've listed one below from a reliable source I know of to give you an idea how it is done. This gal also wrote a book on it. Some people mix alum and soda for the bath and some folks just use soda. For my own use, I found the best for color density was plain baking soda and I soak the cloth for about 48 hours squeeze it gently and shake it out and then let it air dry. My experience with Borax, which some suggest using, was that the pounding faded more quickly over time. The finished cloth is never washed, as even with heat setting, washing destroys the colors.
For more prolonged longevity, you can do the flower pounding, then scan the fabric into your computer and print out the image on other treated fabric. Lots of options to play with here.
Another thing you can do is tape the flowers down on the fabric if you like with wide masking tape and then do the pounding. Lift the tape carefully and then put the tape (with the squashed remains) down again on another piece of fabric for a softer, more delicate pattern.
For the one I made today, I did not use tape at all, I just positioned carefully with my fingers and watched where the hell the hammer hit (-: and I used plastic food wrap instead of wax paper. My foray into the process today was to see what colors would appear from different plants. For more control you can use tape or even remove the petals one by one and place them carefully on the fabric. There is still some movement however and rarely perfection! However, it is fun to try all the possibilities.
Alright I just had to try this!!!!! And I had a blast.....
I followed Leonie's lead and just soaked my fabric in a baking soda solution and then let it dry for a few days.
During some "test pounds" I learned that red flowers turn into grey so I didn't use any; the oranges and yellows worked best. Always have a test cloth nearby if you are trying out new flowers or leaves.
I had taken individual petals from calendula and California poppy, taped them down, and then pounded them. This circle is about 6" in diameter. The fabric is a silk/cotton blend.
I decided to build (or pound) my composition in stages, so here is the next round.
Those colors sure do shift!
Here I have added some of those striped zebra hollyhocks, and they changed from lavender and purple to aqua and blue! The marigold leaves are in place about to be taped down and pounded.
One more round, with more poppy and calendula petals, and some fuzzy lamb's quarter leaves.
Taped and ready to go under the hammer. Wider tape would have been better, but this is what I had on hand.
Here is where I stopped.
Now, the problem with pounded flower pictures is that they fade. Victoria asked about that in the comments from my previous post. As Leonie mentioned, some people scan the finished fabric even while it is still wet and then print that onto fabric, thus capturing that glorious but evanescent pigment. I didn't want to get my scanner icky, so I decided to photograph instead.
***Edit: See Leonie's comment below! You need to heat set the finished pounded fabric, especially before you scan it (no wet fabric in the scanner allowed.)***
That gave me an idea....
I figured if I was going to have to print the image anyway, why not add some unpounded flowers on top of the fabric? That way I could get some of those reds and pinks I wanted, and of course sharper detail. The pounded fabric would then serve as a background...and a very nice one, too.
Ah, this was fun....this is the photo, and below is the printed fabric (it is cotton lawn; I use EQ Printable fabrics for their dependably high quality results), next to the pounded fabric.
The print is actually a bit larger than the original pounded fabric.
I love the background but it is going to fade. I have the picture though in case I want to print it as is.
My plan is to create a border to go around this printed bouquet and make a little wall piece for my upcoming special exhibit at Road to California in January. Fun!