I’m currently slightly obsessed with finding interesting ways to experiment with natural pigments and the creation of art from nature. Today was a picture-perfect spring day, so I wandered around the yard gathering colorful leaves, flower stems, and loose petals (the neighbors are starting to wonder) to try a bit of natural plant and flower art-making.
I took my plant volunteers inside, made a beautiful little arrangement of them on paper, then proceeded to beat them absolutely chlorophyll-less with a hammer. And let me tell you, it was a GLORIOUSLY fun process, and also crazy interesting to see the results!
There are tons of details to notice (along with smells!) and because my foliage was so healthy and water-filled, there was cool color-mixing with many satisfying vibrant splats! If you’re looking for a fun and simple flower activity your kids will love, give this a go – your little ones are going to absolutely adore making hammered flower art!
You can have fun simply pounding different types of plants to see what happens, or you can create some lovely, natural artwork by arranging plants in different compositions, repeating the process on the same piece of paper until you have several layers of colorful stamped foliage prints.
For more nature-inspired arts & crafts, visit our collection of over 100 simple outdoor summer play ideas for kids.
To make your own hammered flower art, you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains either our own printable products, or Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- Paper (cardstock or watercolor paper works best)
- A collection of flowers and leaves in a variety of colors
- A towel
- Wax paper or a paper towel
- A hammer, rubber mallet, or similar
- Watercolor cakes or liquid watercolors
- Other mark-making tools
- Glue (for collaging)
- Muslin, cotton tea towels, or a tote bag
Safety Note: When choosing the foliage you will use for your hammered flower art, be sure you’re familiar with the flowers or leaves you’re collecting, and avoid using plants that can cause skin irritation or are toxic to children or pets. Even non-toxic plants may cause unexpected reactions in particular individuals. This project is not recommended for children under the age of 5 or anyone who may be tempted to put pieces of foliage in their mouths.
Hammered Flower Prints – Nature Process Art DIY Instructions:
Gather colorful flowers and leaves.
Gather up a variety of leaves and flowers – a great excuse for a nature walk! The more colors you can find the better!
Arrange your collection of flowers and leaves on a sheet of paper.
If you’re going to make a composition as we did, you can arrange your flowers and leaves on a piece of paper in a way you like. You can also experiment with leaves one by one or on small squares of paper. Once you’re happy with your arrangement, gently flip the leaves over so they are face down.
Cover with wax paper.
Cover your arrangement, leaf, or flower with a piece of wax paper or a paper towel. Your foliage will be releasing vibrant pigments, so this will keep them from getting on the hammer and making hammer prints on the paper.
Hammer the flowers and leaves!
Grab your hammer or rubber mallet and start pounding! It’s fun to experiment with light and hard hammering and different sizes of hammers if you have them. Our foliage was so healthy and water-filled that we found it helpful to put a towel underneath the paper to keep it from sliding.
Working with kids who may have trouble with a heavy hammer? Try using a rubber mallet instead. It has a bit more bounce and softness but will still do the trick when it comes to pounding!
Gently pull the wax paper off the top of your paper.
Slowly pull back the wax paper. There were so many “oooohhhhs” and “ahhhhhhs” from our crowd! The variety of colors was actually better than we thought we would get – and some looked different than we had expected. Some leaves left detailed prints, while others only left an outline around the outside.
Add watercolors and salt or collage (optional).
Once you’ve finished, you can continue the experiment and art-making by painting your prints with watercolors and then sprinkling them with salt (this adds another layer of cool texture!). Or cut your prints into small pieces and collage them.
This printmaking technique is one part science experiment and one-part process art. There are endless details to observe, creating a variety of open-ended learning opportunities that make this a fabulous kids’ nature art investigation. And my favorite part: no two flower hammerings will ever be alike.
Finding flowers and leaves that work well for pounded flower art
Half of the fun of this smash art project is experimenting with the foliage you have right in your own yard or neighborhood – we were so surprised by some of the colors that appeared after pounding! But if you prefer the guarantee of bold, bright colors, here are the flowers we tried that gave our hammered nature art the most colorful results.
- Rose Petals
- Japanese Maple leaves
Tips for Making Hammered Flower Art with Kids
Flower smash art is a fun and engaging activity that allows children to explore nature and create beautiful art pieces using flowers and leaves. Here are ten tips for making hammered flower art with kids:
- Gather your flowers and foliage together: In addition to some quality time outside together, this is an excellent opportunity to discuss safety concerns when using natural supplies.
- Choose the right materials: Opt for fresh, colorful flowers and leaves with high pigmentation. We’ve listed some of our favorites below!
- Prep for it: Prepare the work area: Lay down a protective cover on your work surface, such as a tablecloth or plastic sheet, to prevent damage from the hammering process, and be sure to wear outfit kiddos in a smock or old clothing.
- Secure the paper: Use masking tape to secure the edges of the wax or parchment paper to the work surface, preventing it from shifting during the hammering process.
- Hammer gently: Show the kids how to gently tap the hammer over the covered flowers and leaves, using even pressure to release the pigments onto the paper. Be sure to supervise and assist younger children as needed.
- Start small: Before working on a big sheet of paper, make a couple of test prints on small scrap paper pieces.
Hammered Flower Art FAQs
Are there flowers and plants to avoid?
It’s wise to remember that, especially if you’re doing this project with children or have curious pets around, there are some flowers and plants you may want to avoid using due to safety reasons or allergy concerns.
For example, Oleander, Lily of The Valley, Nightshade, Foxglove, Hydrangea, Clematis, various Lily varieties, Morning Glory, Delphinium (Larkspur), Rhododendron (Azalea), and Rhubarb leaves are all toxic if eaten.
Though not poisonous if ingested, some common flowers and garden plants that can cause skin irritation due to physical contact with sap are Tulips, Philodendren, Primrose, Chrysanthemum, Poinsettia, and Ficus.
These are just a few examples and are not to be considered an exhaustive guide. You can find a more comprehensive list of poisonous plants on Wikipedia. Though not meant to scare you away from trying this project, it’s important to be aware of the potential hazards associated with these plants, especially if you have children or pets.
If you suspect someone has ingested a toxic plant, contact your local poison control center or seek medical attention immediately.
How do I preserve our hammered flower art for framing, gifts, or a keepsake?
A UV-protective acrylic sealant spray will help your prints hold their vibrant colors.
Benefits of flower pounding with kids
- Encourages creativity and self-expression: Flower pounding allows children to express themselves through art and explore various color combinations, patterns, and textures. This fosters their creativity, imagination, and artistic skills.
- Develops fine motor skills: Hammering flowers and arranging them on paper or fabric requires precision, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination. These activities help children develop their fine motor skills, which are essential for various everyday tasks.
- Teaches patience and focus: Creating hammered flower prints is a process that requires children to pay attention to detail, work carefully, and exercise patience. This helps them develop their ability to concentrate and maintain focus on a task.
- Promotes appreciation for nature: Engaging with flowers and plants during this activity allows children to connect with and appreciate the beauty and diversity of nature. This can foster a sense of environmental responsibility and teach them about the importance of preserving and respecting our natural world.
- Provides a therapeutic experience: The process of pounding flowers and creating art can be calming and stress-relieving for children. This activity encourages them to slow down, relax, and be present in the moment, which can contribute to their overall mental well-being.
Ten variations on a flower-pounding activity for kids
Hammered flower prints can be adapted in various ways to make the activity engaging for kids of all ages. Remember to adjust the level of complexity and assistance based on the age of the children participating in the activity, and always prioritize safety and supervision when using hammers and other tools. Here are ten variations to try:
- Try fabric prints: Instead of using paper, have the kids create prints on fabric, such as a plain white T-shirt or tote bag, for a unique and wearable piece of art.
- Make a nature collage: Encourage the kids to incorporate other natural elements like twigs, seeds, or grass into their hammered flower prints, creating a mixed-media nature collage.
- Use for color exploration: Provide watercolor or acrylic paints and brushes, and let the kids add color to their hammered prints after they’ve dried, creating a more vibrant and abstract look.
- Make symmetrical prints: Celebrate symmetry in nature with a mirror-image hammered flower print. Fold a piece of paper in half, then reopen and lay it flat. Create your composition on one half, fold the paper over, and hammer. Once unfolded, you’ll have a mirror image.
- Personalized stationery: Create personalized stationery by making hammered flower prints on blank cards or postcards. Kids can send these to friends and family as unique, handmade greetings.
- Make nature bookmarks: Make hammered flower prints on strips of cardstock, then laminate them or cover them with clear contact paper to create beautiful, nature-inspired bookmarks.
- Create nature journals: Encourage kids to document their outdoor adventures by creating a nature journal using their hammered flower prints as covers or as decorations on the journal pages.
- Group mural: Have a group of kids work together to create a large-scale hammered flower print mural on a big sheet of paper or canvas, encouraging teamwork and collaboration.
- Decorate hand-printed leaves: Incorporate handprints into the artwork by having kids dip their hands in washable paint and press them onto the paper alongside the hammered flower prints, creating a unique keepsake.
- Use seasonal themes: Explore seasonal themes by using flowers and leaves that correspond to the current season, such as bright spring blossoms, vibrant summer blooms, or colorful autumn leaves.
For more ambitious nature collectors, visit our tutorial on turning a shoebox into a DIY nature explorer’s kit. This little trunk made with upcycled supplies is brimming over with science-based opportunities for investigation and takes nature observation to the next level.
For more nature-inspired activities, try preserving nature supplies for play, leaf-themed loose parts play ideas, or make a set of melted crayon butterflies.
*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Blick Art Materials, Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!
I love how they turned out! I really enjoy the addition of watercolors- it adds a little something extra special! And the added bonus- the stress relief you get from pounding out all those leaves and flowers! LOL! These would be perfect framed and placed in my little’s room <3
Free stress relief turned fine art – they are TRULY the nature art project that keeps on giving, Sam! 😆❤️
Would it work using parchment paper instead?
Hi Keltie – yes, you can definitely use parchment paper instead of wax paper!
Why do you put salt down before you pain with watercolor?
Oooo thanks for the comment Kristin, because I hadn’t noticed I had reversed the directions! 😆 We actually did watercolor first, THEN a sprinkle of salt for a nice speckled texture. I’ll be sure to correct that!