At a cursory glance the garden looks damp and dull this afternoon in the grey drizzle, but when my son and I put on our coats and venture outside there are tiny gems sparkling in the most unlikely places. We’re looking for natural plant materials to make the first Christmas cards of the season – using the Japanese art of Hapa Zome.
This craft involves pounding natural pigments into cloth or paper using a hammer, revealing the colours and structure of the leaves and flowers as they transfer their dyes to the cloth surface.
First, we discover the last of the summer blooms still persisting despite a few frosty mornings, but we’re after the more seasonal hues of the crimson cyclamen flowers, ruby cotoneaster and pyracantha berries and the deep greens of ivy and rosemary.
We practise with the calendula and osteospermum flowers which are easy to crush and release their orange and yellow juices onto the cloth. Then, laying the ivy out in a tree pattern, my son hammers the leaves (under my supervision) to create the green understorey.
He adds a cyclamen flower beneath the cloth for a red star at the top of the tree and then decorates the tree with pens to create the final design.
Creating homemade cards is a lovely way to add a personal touch to the festive season and helps children to understand that time is more precious than money. My son loves to be creative and he is already planning more Hapa Zome designs – this time as bookmarks to give to his friends.