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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 29, 2002 - Issue 64


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Cherokee Leaf Painting

Bring Nature's beauty indoors with this adaptation of a traditional Cherokee craft.
Materials Needed:
1. Plain, white 100% cotton material (shirt, curtains, tablecloths, etc.) or unbleached muslin.
2. Hammer Stone or a large smooth round river rock
3. Masking tape
4. A large flat board
5. Supply of newspapers
6. Waxed paper
7. Leaves for printing (marigolds, carrot tops, strawberry leaves, tulip, poplar, and red or white oaks are good)

Cherokee Leaf Painting transfers a leaf's natural dyes to fabric by beating its chlorophyll directly into the cloth,then setting the color through natural chemical action to avoid fading.


1. Layer several thickness of newspaper on your flat board.
2. Spread your cloth, right side facing you, on top of the newspaper. 3. Put the leaf or leaves on the cloth in the pattern of your choice.
4. Waxed paper should be placed over the leaves and secured with masking tape around the edges
5. Using a flat-headed hammer, pound the chlorophyll out of the leaf until the color transfers to the cloth.
6. Pound evenly to get a good print.
7. If the leaf does not print evenly, crumple up another leaf, dip it in water, and use it to 'paint' the unstained spots.

Setting the Color

For rich reddish-brown hues the cloth can be soaked in a solution of 1 cup of wood ashes to 3 gallons of cold water. After 5 minutes of soaking, it should be rinsed in clear water and air-dried
away from direct sunlight.


To retain the natural green shades of your prints, soak the finished piece in 1/2 cup salt to 2 gallons of water for 10 minutes. Rinse and dry as above.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

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