Thursday, April 28, 2011


Hapa-zome - beating colour into cloth
This is the term that India Flint, author of Ecocolour, (which I have happily been consuming the past couple of weeks) has given to the age old method of beating colour into cloth.

 It is a simple exercise of obtaining fresh plant material and literally 'beating' the colour into the cloth with a small hammer or rubber mallet. With the young people home on school holidays, we just had to give it a try!

After rummaging through the wardrobes, we came up trumps with a 100% cotton, plain white t-shirt. This was pre-soaked overnight in a mordant of homemade yoghurt  and water to hopefully assist the adhering of the colours on the cotton.  The next day, the t-shirt was rinsed and dried and then the fun began...

Some fresh plant material was gathered from the garden..

...and with nothing more to it, 9yo got to work. What fun it is to bash plants onto a t-shirt!

And how noisy! We used a solid wooden chopping block to protect the table from the hammer, and a piece of paper over the more delicate flowers to prevent them from being reduced to a mushy pulp. The t-shirt was then allowed to dry and we have yet to iron it to set the colours. The longer the dye is left on before the first wash, the better the result. We have yet to wash the shirt, too!

The back - plants used: silverbeet/chard, parsely, comfrey, potato leaf, pink daisy, fern leaf, rosemary spikes, alyssum, geranium petals, beetroot leaf, kale, calendula

The front - there is a sort of order in amongst the chaos
The fleshy, sappy plants seemed to yield the most pleasing results.

Not having any more plain white t-shirts to play with, the young people soon decided it might be fun to try the same technique on paper instead...

Out came more chopping boards and hammers/meat mallets. The 'bashings' were made onto some handmade paper I found lurking in the cupboard and will make great additions to homemade cards.

I don't think we have seen the last of this top..I am tempted to embelish it in some way, perhaps with some crocheted ric-rac or beading.....

Oh, the possibilities!
For more information on this method of applying colour to cloth, I can't highly recommend enough the book; ECOCOLOUR by India Flint.


  1. This is fantastic. I am definitely going to give it a go with my kids too. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow this is really cool, I love it!
    I think I might have to find me a copy of this book :)

  3. That is fantastic and so pretty!

  4. That is so cool! What kid doesn't like to hammer and squish things... and on to clothing as well? Brilliant.

  5. Have fun, veggiegobbler - I'm sure the kids will!

    It's a fantastic read, Lisa :)

    It's something so simple but so fun, Sonia and Debbie - I can see more of this type of thing happening from time to time....

    Absolutely, Brydie! Kids+Hammers+Plants= MUCH fun!

  6. nice work! i've been doing a bit of it over here in France
    wasn't carrying a hammer
    so substituted 'spoon burnishing' instead
    worked quite well
    and quieter
    a LOT slower!

  7. Wonderful stuff! I love how the leaves imprinted so well onto the fabric, with so much definition!

  8. Thanks for stopping by, India! I can't imagine how busy things are for you in France. Wishing you happy, colourful and spoon-filled travels ;)

    The leaves were very pleasing, Celia. I would never have expected some of the plants to leave such precise markings...


Hi there, it's so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Chris x