I’ve done quite a few tutorials on how to press flowers and preserve blooms for special occasions. It was only a matter of time before I tried flower pounding. Now I’m sharing some lessons learned and tips for getting stunning results with this simple technique.
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Pounding Flowers to Make DIY Art
Using a hammer to create art with something as delicate as flowers seems unconventional, right? Well, the results are undeniable. I’ve done my fair share of pressed flower art and made many crafts using dried flowers, like this DIY potpourri. Pounded flowers look gorgeous as DIY art, handmade tea towels, or custom stationery.
This is the perfect craft to consider for Mother’s Day too! Kids can join in the fun of hammering flowers with some adult supervision. I’ll also give you tips for using flower pounding on fabric for DIY tote bags or table runners if that’s more up your alley.
Watch This Tutorial on YouTube
Step 1: Pick fresh flowers
Pick flowers in the morning after the dew has dried to get the best results for hammered flower projects. I encourage you to experiment with a wide variety of leaves and flowers to determine how they will transfer to paper or fabric.
Flowers with darker pigments and flat faces will give you great results when pounding flowers. (Pansies are some of my favorites!)
Best Flowers for Flower Pounding
Best Flowers for Flower Pounding
I tried using Zinnias since I have an abundance in my backyard garden. However, the pigments got muddied due to the thick center (stamens and carpel). If you’d like to try pounding flowers with large centers, like coneflowers or black-eyed Susans, I’d consider using only the flower petals.
Step 2: Arrange paper on a hard surface
Use a hard surface like a scrap piece of wood to protect your work area. I like to place a layer of newspaper in between the wood and my sheet of watercolor paper to help absorb the impact.
Step 3: Place the flowers on the paper
Remove any stems, sepals, or other flower parts you don’t wish to transfer. Then, lay the flowers face down on your paper.
Once you have your ideal arrangement of flowers, you can tape them to the paper to prevent any shifting as you hammer. I used washi tape, but any masking tape will work.
Step 4: Cover the flowers with a paper towel and hammer
Some tutorials recommend using a piece of parchment paper or wax paper when hammering flowers. After trying multiple methods, I prefer using paper towels. With a paper towel, you can see which flowers need more attention, and it doesn’t shift around as much as wax paper.
Using the flat side of a hammer, begin gently pounding the surface in sections. Sometimes ball-peen hammers work well due to their rounded surface, but a household claw hammer will do the job. Feel free to add more layers of paper towels as needed.
Some flowers will leave better impressions than others, so always test your blooms on a scrap piece of paper before committing to your final project.
Check the artwork periodically to see which areas need more pressure. You can always repeat the process with additional layers of flowers if some areas didn’t absorb the plant’s natural dye.
After pounding all areas to your liking, remove the paper towels and discard any of the remaining plant pieces. Let the art dry completely (about 30 minutes) before adding any finishing touches.
Step 5: Add details with a pen or pencil
If you’d like to add fine details, you can create outlines of the original flowers with a fine-point calligraphy pen or colored pencil. This makes the art look a bit elevated and whimsical.
I decided to use one of my flower pounding art pieces to make a card for Mother’s Day.
Step 6: Seal the flower-pounding art (optional)
To prevent the artwork from fading and add a pop of contrast, you can add a protective layer with acrylic spray sealer. Be sure to work in an area with good ventilation.
Pounding Flowers on Fabric (Special Instructions)
If you decide to pound flowers on fabric, I suggest using a mordant like alum (potassium aluminum sulfate) to help the fabric absorb the natural dyes of the flowers. Fabrics made of natural materials, like cotton or linen, work best.
When using alum, use protective gear like safety glasses and gloves to prevent skin exposure, and work in a well-ventilated area.
Step 1: Wash the fabric and place it in an alum bath
First, wash the fabric as normal. Then, dissolve two teaspoons of alum powder into one gallon of warm water in a bucket. Submerge the fabric into the alum bath for 20-30 minutes. Wring out the fabric and hang it to dry without rinsing it. Once the fabric has dried, you can iron it before proceeding with the flower pounding to get a smoother application.
Step 2: Add a protective layer to prevent the dye from bleeding
Before pounding flowers on fabric, place a protective layer like parchment paper underneath the fabric to prevent the natural dye from bleeding through.
Step 3: Pound the flowers as normal
Follow the same steps as above for transferring the flower pigment onto your fabric with a hammer. Use a piece of parchment paper or paper towels to cover the flowers before hammering.
Step 4: Heat set the design
Once the cloth has dried, you can “heat set” the design. Begin by placing a piece of parchment paper over the pounded flowers, then press the design with a household iron (without steam) on the highest heat setting recommended for your fabric.
Gift Ideas with Flower Pounding Art
Consider using your newly pounded flower art to give as gifts or create a keepsake. Here are just a few ideas:
- Custom tea towels
- Greeting cards
- Gift bags
- Gift tags
- Table runner
- Tote bags
- Cosmetic or toiletry bag
I’d love to hear about your plans down in the comments. Don’t forget to pin this for later as well!
Pin it for later!
Flower Pounding Tutorial
- Hammer ball peen or household hammer
- Household iron if pounding on fabric
- Bucket if pounding on fabric
- 5-10 Fresh flowers (Flowers with flat petals and small centers work best)
- piece Scrap wood or hard surface
- 1-2 sheets Newspaper (optional)
- 1 sheet Paper Towel
Materials for Pounding on Paper
- 1 piece Watercolor paper
- can Acrylic spray sealer (optional)
Materials for Pounding on Fabric
- Natural fabric (cotton or linen work well)
- Safety gear (nitrile gloves, mask)
- 2 tsp Alum Powder
- 1 gal Warm water
- 1 sheet Parchment paper
For Flower Pounding on Paper
- For the best results, pick fresh flowers. Place the flowers in a small vase if you do not plan to use them immediately. Flowers with darker pigments and flat faces (like pansies) work well.
- Place your paper on a hard surface such as a scrap piece of wood. You may opt to place a few sheets of newspaper in between to prevent damage to the paper.
- Place the flowers face down on the paper. You can leave stems on or off depending on your preference. Masking tape can help prevent the flowers from shifting.
- Cover the flowers with a paper towel and begin gently pounding them with a hammer. Work in small sections, and repeat the process if the ink does not transfer successfully the first time.
- Remove the plant tissue from the paper, and let the artwork dry for 30 minutes. You can add more flower details with a fine-point pen if desired.
- Optional: Spray the finished design with an acrylic spray sealer to help protect it and prevent discoloration.
Flower Pounding on Fabric
- Note: Use safety gear (mask and gloves) when using alum powder, and work in a well-ventilated area.
- Prewash the fabric. Then dissolve 2 teaspoons of alum powder in 1 gallon of warm water in a bucket.
- Submerge the fabric in the alum bath for 20-30 minutes. Then wring out the fabric and allow it to dry naturally. Do not rinse.
- Iron the fabric before pounding the flowers for a smoother application. Then place parchment paper or another protective surface behind your fabric to prevent the natural dyes from bleeding through.
- Place the flowers face down on the fabric surface, cover them with a paper towel, and begin pounding. (See steps 3-5 above.)
- After the fabric has dried, you can "heat set" the design. Place parchment paper over the design, then press it with a household iron on the highest heat setting recommended for your fabric (no steam).