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Printing the hard way!

This post is about printing with nothing more than a hammer!!

It is officially warm (well warmer at last!) The May blossom (Hawthorn) is now in abundance in the hedgerows throughout the Glenashdale forest. I only discovered a few years ago that the old saying '‘Cast ne’er a clout ere May is out’' actually refers to the time when the May blossom is out. I had always assumed that it referred to the end of the month of May. Translated it suggests that once the May (hawthorn blossom) is out it is warm enough to put away your winter woollies! (though I am keeping mine to hand for now)



The Glenashdale path weaves its way through a carpet of bluebells (which smell glorious). Everything is so colourful, and so with so much colour around I have been continuing my experiments to capture and preserve prints of the flora and fauna as it erupts into action in as eco friendly a manner as I can find.

My most recent experiments have taken me back in time with a technique that I used to use with children when I was a teacher. It's 'proper name' is 'Tataki Zome' - it is the process of extracting the colour of a leaf or flower by hitting it with a hammer. I have only tried this onto paper or fine fabric like cotton in the past so getting prints onto felt has been a challenge and requires a very firm, dense felt and a very intense pounding! By sandwiching the leaf or flower between felt and a protective layer of paper (a paper towel would do) the print can be transferred onto the felt.

I will share with you some of my successes:


This is a print of a wood anenome growing on the forest floor onto felt. It took a lot of hammering, but has produced an intense green print with quite sharp edges true to the leaf shape.




This shows a violet flower and leaves after 'pounding'. I love that the leaves have a graduation of purple into green in the print.





As the bracken fronds unfurl in the sun (you can almost watch them opening before your eyes on a warm day) I have taken the opportunity to try to capture their delicate fronds by pounding them onto felt.


...and finally a simple wild cherry leaf (there are several wild cherry trees on the Glenashdale path just coming into blossom). The print captures the fresh green and the shape well.



Not all leaves or flowers give up their colour well and I have to admit that clearer more detailed prints can be achieved with this technique onto paper or cotton fabric, but as a very eco friendly process it is opening up lots of opportunities to create prints that can be embellished or layered onto other eco prints: the possibilities are endless. ... and with a little bit of alchemy I have found another way to build on this technique, but I will share that with you in my next blog.

Meanwhile: the only 'hard' aspect to printing this way is using the hammer, it is a remarkably simple and accessible way to try eco printing so why not give it a go!

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