Spring is here is here, the leaves are starting to unfurl, and we have a great craft activity that can be done indoors or outdoors, and will appeal to even the most reluctant artist (it involves bashing things with a mallet!).

Hape Zome, or leaf printing, is the (originally Japanese) process of extracting the colour pigments from leaves and flowers onto fabric. With a mallet or some other large bashing tool…. It’s a great craft activity for the Autumn period, because it captures the shape and textures, and changing tonal qualities of foliage. It’s also brilliant project for children who might not normally be interested in crafts – as whacking things with a hammer seems to add a certain attraction!

What you will need

  • a flat solid surface to work on – a log round works well, but any smooth, stable surface will do
  • some clean, pale coloured cloth – calico is perfect, but part of an old sheet works just as well
  • leaves to print from
  • mallets or other bashing tools

What you need to do


The process is to arrange the leaves inside a piece of fabric so that the fabric forms a ‘sandwich’ with the leaves as the filling.


Fold the fabric over and then…


…carefully begin to beat the cloth over the leaves.


You’ll see in the previous pictures that we’ve shown a number of different types of mallet. In fact the traditional square mallet is the least useful, because the flat striking face makes it difficult to connect with the fabric cleanly. So choose a mallet with a convex striking face if you can.



You may need to beat the cloth quite vigorously to get a result, so make sure that:

  • hands (and heads) are clear of the striking zone
  • no one gets too close behind the hammerer in case they get hit by the backswing




When you think you are finished, put the mallet down carefully, take a deep breath and…



…carefully peel the cloth apart…



…to reveal the finished masterpiece.


You can pick off the remains of the original leaf, but I quite like to leave them on as a sort of ‘negative’ of the print.



Happy hape zoming!




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