Hammered Calathea Leaf Tote

Hammering leaves (and flowers) is not a kids-only craft we did back in elementary school, but with a bit of imagination, it is a stress-relieving way of creating beautiful patterns on fabric! There are many leaves and flowers that, when pounded, stain the fabric with chlorophyll, anthocynanin, carotenoids, and betalains (to name a few colorful pigments found in foliage and flowers!).

Are you ready to get your aggression out while leaving behind a glorious impression? Let's hammer out the details of what you need for this project!

Leaf and Flower Pounding


Colorful Plant Leaves or Flowers

Use calathea, alocasia, chinese evergreen, dracaena, stromanthe, or maranta (to name a few), or you can use flowers like petunias, marigolds, phlox, pansies, or any flower that is relatively flat and has intense colors. You can also use leaves from trees like birch, maple, oak, or any tree that can spare a few leaves for art's sake!

Sturdy Flat Surface 

This is necessary for safety reasons and for stability. The surface must be even and durable enough to tolerate a good beating!


You can't bang without a hammer, so find one with a large head because more surface area will reduce the time it takes to transfer the juices to the fabric.

Non-Porous Covering and Tape

A transparent thick sheet of plastic will work best as the fluids will adhere to the fabric and not the protective layer above the foliage or flowers. The benefit of using a see-through covering is that you will notice every section while hammering. Wax paper is an excellent alternative, although you will lose some color as it will be absorbed into the wax paper fibers. 

Separation Board

If you hammer a tote, shirt, or even socks, you must place a non-porous surface between the front and back. A cutting board works wonders but be warned that some of the color may stain the board.  

Safety Glasses and a hard hat

We are serious about this part (from experience!). Make sure you protect yourself from yourself by wearing safety glasses and a hard hat. You might get into the hammering part and have a wide swing, so please wear protective gear!


Use non-dyed fabric; natural fibers work well. Treat the material with an alum mordant bath before hammering the foliage, as this will help the colors last longer and adhere to the fibers better.

Leaf Pounding on Shirt


Optional: Treat the fabric with an alum mordant before hammering on the prints, and let dry completely!

  • Insert the separation board in between the tote, shirt, etc. If you are printing on a single sheet of fabric, there is no need for this step!
  • Set the fabric and board onto your sturdy hammering surface.
  • Lay the leaves or flowers on the surface of the fabric face down, and lay the non-porous covering on top of the arranged foliage (if using wax paper, please tape it down as this will help keep the foliage from sliding!) 
  • Put on your safety gear and start to hammer (with force) every inch of the leaves/flowers. The cells break down, and the color transfer to the fabric.
  • Remove the covering slowly, peel any remaining plant parts from the fabric.
  • Place the printed fabric in a dry location and stand back to admire your hard work!

Note: This is like temporary hair dye. Colors will fade away if you wash the fabric. Hammering fabrics that need not be cleaned (often, if ever!) is a good choice for this project!

Flower Pounding on Fabic







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