Hapa Zome Tutorial

I subscribe to the online newsletter Quilting Daily, from Interweave. Today they featured artist India Flint, and interviewed her about her natural dying techniques.

It was really quite interesting. One of the things she spoke about was a technique she calls hapa zome- "essentially a "kitchen Japanese" phrase meaning leaf dye "

It seemed quite simple, so today, I gave it a try!

All you really need is:
     a block of wood, 
            a piece of paper (I used a section of brown paper bag), 
                       some leaves and flowers gathered from outside, 
                             some fabric (I used muslin- no silk available!), 
                                        a big hammer!

*Place your fabric on the wood block.
**Place your leaves/flowers on the fabric. I did them one at a time- the paper tends to slide a bit when hammering.
***Place the paper over the leaf
****Hammer it to a pulp!!

The hammering beats the color into the fabric. I found that placing the leaves face down on the fabric bleeds a bit more color, and if you are lucky, the complete imprint of the leaf will show up. Some plants leave better imprints than others.

I tried cedar with berries, it smells great - but really doesn't leave the best imprint. I picked some wildflowers, lavender, lavender blossoms, sunflower leaves, clover, hyacinth bean flowers and pods, kale, spinach, broccoli leaf,  foxtail, strawberry leaves, and quite a few others. Some just left a green blob, some left a nice print.

India says the colors will set with a steam iron. She used this technique on a 6m x6m floor cloth for a theatre, and several years later, the colors are still set, even with folks walking on it!

My muslin square just happened to fit perfectly on a vintage "ventilator" I picked up at a yard sale last week, for $1 !!!

This was a square cut in an old log cabin, with a piece of screen over it, for ventilation in a kitchen. Pretty cool piece of wood- I laid the muslin on top of it to get a photo and it fits!!

The print even looks good on the reverse side of the fabric (see above). Once you figure out which flowers and leaves work best, you could fill up the whole piece with color.
This was just a practice piece, but I will steam iron it, and then figure out what to do with it!! Now, on to the woods, for more leaves and stuff to hammer into fabric....................................hapa zome!!!!


  1. This looks sooooo fun! I'm going to try it if I can find anything still blooming after we get back from our trip.

  2. Who knew? Thanks for sharing this technique. Sometimes the low tech ideas are the best!

  3. I sent a link to this post to my daughter who likes to make things as naturally as possible. This is ingenious, and I think probably more fun than an erosion bundle (which takes way longer to see results)!

  4. beautiful results Pat!
    funny I get those same emails, but missed this technique ... they have been mentioning India's name a fair bit (I Love that name).
    I am impressed that you got busy ... you GO girl!!!! Horse Woman ;)
    Happy Weekend to ya, isn't it nice to be able to open the windows again! ahhhh

  5. I always heard of this as "flower pounding". Did a lot of it back in the 70's. Did it again a few years ago. But you are right it depends on the flower or the leaf on how it will imprint or how it will 'blob'. :) Thanks for sharing.