Updated: Jun 13
Flower pounding is an easy way to capture the beauty of spring and summer flowers on a piece of clothing, bandana, or just a piece of paper. Check out these simple steps for flower pound printing that is almost easy enough for your school age child to do independently.
Flower pounding is an easy way to capture the beauty of spring and summer flowers on a piece of clothing, bandana, or just a piece of paper. Check out these simple steps for flower pound printing that is almost easy enough for your school age child to do independently. Now, I am by no means an expert at dying or printing. This is something I simply do for fun, and because it is more of a hobby that I often introduce to children, I likely do things a little differently from someone who sells their products.
But, my hobby interests can be your benefit because flower pounding is a great way to build sense of place and nature connection with an easy and fun activity!
Step 1: Set the stage!
You'll need a few simple things to get started. Here's what I used:
Flowers from my garden and ferns from my yard. Any plant with pigment will work and the brighter the plant, generally the better the print.
A onesie that I prepped by using soy milk as a binder (see instructions for this process below). You want to use cotton, silk, or another natural cellulose fiber.
2 pieces of cardboard
Now, dyes and flower prints will hold much better if you use a mordant to prep your material. If you are just making these for personal enjoyment, don't worry about using a mordant. I don't mess around with mordant, but I do use soy milk as a binder to help dyes and prints hold onto the cellulose fibers better. If you want to do this, you need to prep at least a week in advance - just keep that in mind. Here's how I prep my cloth with a soy milk binder:
Using store bought unsweetened, plain soy milk I made a mixture of 4 cups water to 1/4 cup soy milk. This is all I needed for such a small project, but you can expand this ratio to soak more items.
Add clothing to the mixture and make it sure it is completely submerged.
Soak for 12 hours
Remove clothing and wring out excess liquid, rinse.
Return to the liquid and submerge it fully, letting it absorb the binder.
Repeat steps 4 & 5 a few times.
Do one final rinse and then let the clothing "cure" for about 1 week before using.
Step 2: Line up your design
This is where your budding naturalist gets to let their creativity shine! The first step may require some adult support, but this step should be all child-led. Do your best to truly step back and let your child lead the way - if they ask for help, offer it. Otherwise, stay out of it : ). Start by sliding one piece of cardboard under or in, and then create the design.
"Children are naturally creative. It is our job to give them the freedom, materials, & space to let their creativity blossom to its full potential." – Jean Vant Hul
*Note, I lay my flowers "face" side down to get the best results. Offer this note to your child, but again, let them do it for themselves.
Step 3: Pick up that hammer and go to town!
Now, this is where you will need to adjust depending on the age of your budding naturalist. Some kids can use a full size hammer after discussing some safety points and staying nearby. Others may need a wooden mallet (just as effective), and others still may need just a bit more of adult support. If you can, try to step out of your comfort zone a bit and let your child show up for the challenge - as long as it is safe.
To set this up, lay your wax paper over your flowers and then the last piece of cardboard over that. Then, go to town! I would offer a warning here that it is often difficult to keep plants in place and fingers in the way are at risk of getting smashed. Take it slow and lend a hand when needed.
The finished product
Cute, huh? I was wrangling an 8 month old while doing this, so my prints came out a little smudged, but overall not bad. I let this hang on the line to dry and then I'll proceed to use it as I would any other onesie. The colors will fade over time (much faster than if I used a mordant), but that's OK with me!
Value process over product, and just have fun!
Flower pounding is simple, easy, and fun. Your child will get to know plants in their nature neighborhood, and if you truly let them run the show here (again, as long as it is safe), they will treasure whatever they create and the experience of making it!