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Over the summer I tried to do some hammered leaf art. Since I had never done it before I was just grabbing random leaves and plants that I thought would look good if I beat them on some watercolour paper.

My beaten leaves and flowers

I thought a fern and some maple leaves would look really good but alas I has awful results. You can't really see where they were because there was not enough juice in them.

The leaf in the upper left looked really good. After reading my first intro to this art the author said that:

You're looking for things with bright colors that aren't too juicy or too dry. It'll take a little trial and error to find good plants, so grab a variety and play around.

Is that really the only advice when getting into this... trial and error? I understand crafting has a large part of just that but in this case is there more to go on for this when it comes to select leaves to hammer?

  • If I find a good leaf can I assume that species of that size and age is a good choice going forward?
  • Is there a way I can tell visually if a leaf is juicy or dry?

How can I effectively access a leaf/plant for use in my nature prints or hammered art?

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  • Tag might not get used much but something should go here. – Matt Sep 30 '16 at 3:55
  • Juicy leaves 'looks' more thick and fleshy. As well after collecting leaves, if iou bend/ break/ rub etc etc ( 'play') the leaf with finger; your fingers will tell a lot about the leaf's structure such as how fleshy/juicy the leaf is, is there any thick impermeable layer of cuticle, etc. Test by put the 'lower' (abaxial) face (that face with raised veins and pale colour) towards the paper, guessing that may give better result because that surface usually contains more stomata (holes). Could try dip the leaves into water for 1 minute (and remove water with cloth) prior to use. – Always Confused Oct 20 '16 at 4:52
  • contd.... could try vegetable leaves like spinach. As well, all these are guess, I never did hammering, but a bit leaf-anatomy experience. – Always Confused Oct 20 '16 at 4:54
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My wife and I did a bit of this the last time we were in Japan. It was very difficult, but also very interesting.

As the previous answer indicated, experimentation is key here. In fact, I almost think it's the whole point of this technique. Each time you fail miserably, you'll learn a bit more about what doesn't work.

Try everything you come across (it's all free materials anyway). Make notes on what did/didn't work. You can number your papers to correlate with your notes.

You may find that different plant materials respond better under different hammering techniques.

Once you have developed a feel for it (through experience), you will quickly develop your own signature style.

Don't be afraid to fail miserably.

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