Natural Dyes

Bunting made with natural dyes


Wild about Learning!

Natural Dyes

Experiment with natural dyes

Use your bushcraft skills to light a fire and cook up a colourful creation!

This is a Call of the Wild session for secondary school age children aged 11 upwards and explains how to create simple dyes using natural ingredients. For an activity which takes less time and does not require a fire, scroll down to take a look at hapa zome printing instead.

Watch the video first for an overview of how to do it, as demonstrated by teenagers taking part in a Call of the Wild session with the education team at our Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve. Then check out the detailed instructions on our activity sheet below. Supervision is essential for this activity. Be safe!


Hapa Zome

Try leaf bashing to create a colourful print!

Hapa Zome is a Japanese art form and a really fun and simple activity for creating leaf and flower prints by bashing out their natural pigments onto a piece of fabric. 

What you’ll need

  • White fabric like cotton, you could cut up an old pillow case
  • If you don't have any fabric try using white paper, and tap gently
  • Small hammer or mallet, or a thick stick, or a wide stone or cobble
  • Variety of natural materials to bash such as flowers and leaves
  • A solid flat surface: a chopping board, slab or log will do the job
Collection of leaves and flowers in a bowl

Step 1

Collect a variety of flowers and leaves. Choose ones with a good moisture content for the best printing effects. Autumn leaves if not too dried out can make great patterns.

Hapa Zome hammering to create a fern leaf print

Step 2

Place your leaf or flower underneath your piece of fabric and start bashing! If you are using a flat stone as a hammer, be careful you don't accidentally catch your fingertips.

Hammering out a spiral pattern using hapa zome

Step 3

Use your imagination! You could place flowers and leaves in a folded piece of fabric to create a butterfly. Or place lots of vegetation under your fabric and instead of hammering to reveal their shape, create your own!

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