After the greys, whites and browns of the winter season, our eyes become hungry for the vibrant colours of spring and summer. From pale violets, butter yellows and glorious pinks to the many intense shades of green – summer is a feast for the eye! You can capture some of this beauty by gently pounding coloured flowers and plants to release their natural dyes onto either paper or light-coloured cloth (such as a t-shirt or handkerchief).
Its an easy and fun activity that can involve the whole family.
•Plastic or paper bags for harvesting,
•wooden plywood boards (or a hard surface like a picnic
table that can be dented),
•watercolor paper and/or white cloth (a handkerchief, a T-shirt).
Please Note: You’ll need adult supervision for this activity. Also, be sure you can identify any noxious plants that might be in your area such as poison oak, poison ivy and giant hogweed.
Here is how:
Go for a walk and harvest various flowers and leaves that you know are safe to touch. You are looking for plants and flowers that aren’t too juicy or too dry. Examples include dandelion flowers and leaves, clover, violets, and oak leaves. Take just a few leaves or flower heads from any one place. Place these in your collection bag. Don’t ever harvest anything that isn’t in abundance. Always take a just bit from here, and just a bit from there. Never take the first, nor the last. And always give thanks to the plant you are harvesting.
Place your cloth or watercolour paper on top of the hard wooden surface. Artfully arrange a variety of flower heads and plants on the cloth/paper. Cover this with two or three layers of paper towel. Now, methodically and carefully, hammer on top of the paper towel, trying to make sure you hit each part of the plant hidden below. Don’t hit too hard! And be careful for your fingers too! You may need to experiment with a variety of flowers and plants.
When you are done hammering, gently peel away the paper towel and the plant. You should have a lovely imprint of your plant in the water colour paper or the cloth. Admire your creation and savour the beauty of the natural world!
Optional – spray your creation with acrylic preservative to protect your art.
Submitted by Jacob Rodenburg, Author & Executive Director of Camp Kawartha, an award-winning outdoor education centre and summer camp.