Thursday, October 28, 2010

making autumn leaves

The past several weeks, Adelaide and I have been spending many hours out and about and gathering. Acorns, chestnuts, pinecones, pretty twigs and branches, and so many beautiful Autumn leaves. It was out on one of our gathering expeditions that it occurred to me, studying the make up of a leaf, that we could possibly recreate our own leaves using a little bit of wire, paper, and paint.
To make our own Autumn leaves, we first went out on a walk all around our neighbourhood and gathered up a variety of fresh leaf samples, in all types and sizes. We brought them home and together traced about 2 dozen out onto sheets of 80 lb drawing paper. I then cut a few out, and got my daughter painting.


To paint the leaves, I had 3 bottles of acrylic paint which we had picked up at the dollar store: red, orange, and yellow. (although, really you would only need red and yellow.) I squirted a little bit of each paint colour onto individual saucers. I then cut up dollar-store sponges into 1/2" - 1" blocks, and showed Adelaide how she could dab a little paint onto each sponge and use them to dap and mix and blend colours all together to paint a leaf.

I found at first it was good to give her a big leaf to paint, so she would have lots of room to experiment and check it all out. I placed several real leaves alongside of her, and together we examined them closely. I showed her how not one leaf was a solid, single colour - each was many colours blended all together: red, yellow, orange. And I also encouraged her to try to do her best to cover all of each leaf so that no white would show, just like a real leaf.

While Addie happily painted away, I used a glue gun and wire cutters and began to cut and glue wire "spines" onto the back of each leaf. When the glue dried, I found that I could bend and shape each leaf to look quite real. With a bit of trial and error, I found that a thinner wire around 16 - 18g worked best for these leaves. I glued and collected up a bunch of paper leaves in this manner, and bent and worked the wires until they looked authentic and were ready to be painted up. As Addie finished up her first practice leaf, I was ready to pass her the leaves I had ready-to-go.

Note: After seeing how the paper leaves dried - quite solid and stiff, I think that it is important to bend your leaves into shape first before painting them. I found that if I bent the wires when the paint was wet, the paper could tear. And if I bent the wires when the painted leaves were dry, then they could crack.

Painting leaves kept Adelaide very occupied and busy for almost two hours. Together we ended up making about 15 or 20 leaves in this manner, and so it was time for a break. Leaving the leaves to dry, we headed to the forest to find a nice branch for them. By time we had returned, the leaves were mostly all dry, and I found that they had dried quite solidly - surprisingly, they weren't very fragile at all. Happy with the results, Adelaide and I selected some of the prettiest leaves and I used bits of brown florist tape - which I had purchased ahead at Micheal's - and taped leaves to the branch, one by one.



Placed all together on a branch, Adelaide's leaves really do look quite real! At the very least, they do not look like they were painted by a three-year-old. Adelaide was thrilled and we are both very happy with the results of our project.

These painted leaves are so lovely and can be used in many ways - taped onto a branch and kept in a vase as we have, or perhaps all along a branch for a thanksgiving table centerpiece. I think it would be nice for perhaps each member of a class or a family to paint their own leaf, and write their names on them to make a family tree. Or even woven into a garland for a door frame or window. All around a wreath. Or even just to keep as a single leaf, tacked to a bulletin board to keep for always. I think that it may be nice to make some more leaves in spring or summer, all green and yellow and happy.

62 comments:

Catherine Hansen Peart said...

Wow, that turned out beautifully! You are so inspiring with how you do things with Adelaide. I am definitely going to be doing this. I love, love, love doing art projects with my two.

stephanie said...

What a great project! They do look very real and I love the brown tape you used.

Ali Rockwell said...

How cute!!! You both did a fantastic job!

Stephanie said...

I'm about to teach my 2 1/2 year old daughter about leaves and how they change colors. I'm really excited to try this art project with her. You are so creative! ;)

amy lou. said...

brilliant! all of our leaves blew away with the heavy midwestern winds. this will be the perfect activity for us to do this weekend so we don't blow away outside! thank you!

ea-o said...

What a lovely project! The poster in the back caught my eye - what is your connection to Denmark?

Shrie said...

I love this project! Oh the wonder of nature and creating.

l o v e l y d e s i g n said...

Hey everyone, thank you for visiting and for your comments!

ea-o: I spent some time living in Sweden, and I some of my very best friends are Danes who live in Copenhagen. And so I have spent many happy days visiting. Copenhagen is also one of my most favourite places, and I found, brought home, and framed this original print which you see in the bg from a flea market there.

xox
sharilyn

cindy said...

the leaves are so lovely and it is incredible how closely addie resembles both of you!

Islay said...

They look incredible! I can't get over what a great idea that is.

And oh, for something that keeps my little one occupied for two minutes, never mind two hours!

milk tooth's rain said...

good job!
it reminds me when I was young and in the primary school with the montessori's method we were doing a lot of art worklike this one...

Maggie said...

These leaves look so pretty...I actually want to make some now, and I am certainly quite a bit older than your little girl! :) What a fun project--I love your descriptions of these crafty afternoons with your daughter, they are so heartwarming and creative.

It's such a nice reminder that kids can stay happy and entertained for hours without just watching TV or playing video games...

Amy Walters said...

a beautiful project, they look fantastic!

i hope someone asks you to make a book of crafty activities to do with your kids.

Rose said...

Oh! They are gorgeous!

Laura said...

The leaves are gorgeous! So beautiful and life-like. I really like how they look on the branch.

Kay said...

Great project idea. I will definitely try it out with my kids one day.

Fall is one of the four seasons I miss the most (We don't have it here in tropical Thailand) :)

Beth said...

I am so going to make these. I live in Nevada (grew up in Virginia), where there are no pretty fall leaf colors...I miss it from growing up on the east coast.

emily said...

Do you have any plans to publish a book of your crafts for kids?

Megan said...

Super cool!!! You should publish a book with all these great ideas!
Oh, haha! I just looked at the comment above and see the same thing written. :)
You could even go through one of those self-publishing websites and sell them on your own, since you can have as many printed as you want. I'd buy one! :)

myredbike said...

What a beautiful project! The results are stunning!

Anita said...

What a great idea, thank you!

linda said...

this is so wonderful! you have such amazing ideas for kids. (i hope you don't mind that i blogged about it over at my little corner.)

Rhonda said...

Wow! I love the idea of adding the wire to the painted leaves. My 5 yr. old and I do lots of outdoor activities, whatever the weather is, we just dress for the weather. Anyway, I am going to try this with my 5 yr. old, she'll love it!
Thank-you for sharing this great idea!
Rhonda

Kelly Johnston said...

your leaves are wonderful - what a fantastic project!

Lynne said...

Gorgeous!

Katy said...

They look amazingly real. So real I want to make some for my house this weekend! I feel though that without the childs touch they won't be quite as special.

She's going to grow to be one talented little lady.

Daniela B. said...

This leaves are fantastic..they look so real!juest wonderful :-) :-)

Bron @ Baby Space said...

What a beautiful craft idea! So... lovely.

Your blog is gorgeous :)

charis101 said...

They look so real! What a great idea x

It's All Happening said...

Cute!

Linen and Tulle said...

As everyone has said, they came out fantastic. I am so impressed at your daughters patience and focus.

sj said...

Sharilyn,
I don't have any kids yet, but I'm keeping all these fun projects in mind for 'one day' :}
Thanks for posting! I love reading your blog.

Downtown Girl said...

Reading your blog makes me happy :)

Erin Wallace said...

This is a wonderful project! They turned out to be so lovely! So happy to have found your blog.

xo Erin

domestikated said...

I hopped over here via Tea for Joy, and am glad I did - what a beautiful project!

Paula said...

I love seeing all the projects you do with your daughter....and you're giving me tons of ideas to use with my grandson!

Ania Florek-Kozakiewicz said...

Wow. Fantastic idea. As always:)

marikobrown said...

So pretty! Leaves and Addie!
You two inspire me more than anything.
Happy Halloween!

Traci said...

You are the best Mommy :)

amberlee said...

This is hands down the best kid art project I've ever seen, I love it!

Craftyfingerz said...

very pretty leaves indeed especially when it's painted by a three year old :-) great project :-)

Louisa May said...

what a wee star! What a great idea - so simple and gorgeous!x

Sheli said...

What an awesome craft project! Makes me wish I had kids already, but fortunately I have little cousins I can do crafts with. :) I discovered your blog yesterday and spent many hours digging through the inspiring archives. I wonder if you could do a post sometime about hand sewing quilts? My Grandma (who I love and has taught me everything I know about quilting and knitting) refuses to get into hand quilting because it's too much work for her but the results are so beautiful and I like long slow projects that I can pick up and put down over and over. I would love to hear about your process and any tips you have for thread choice, how to work your way around the quilt, etc.

Thanks! and keep the great craft inspirations coming!

Annie said...

waaaa wonderful, you are the best ...

Kisss

Annie

twoforjoy design said...

This is such a lovely idea that we had our own try.. are leaves are no way near as lovely as yours though!

Marianne said...

Oh my heck! I need to do that with my kids!

Sandy a la Mode said...

this is such a great idea for fall!!! and you'll always have leaves there that won't die!! your daughter is sooo adorable!!

Laura said...

So lovely and what a beautiful child :)

mer said...

these are gorgeous. makes me want to dip my fingers in some paint...

Mrs. Dude said...

this is so much fun! Bright and beautiful... they turned out wonderful! Your girl is SO cute!

Tereza said...

Such a sweet idea! and so fun for the kids

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Wow, those are gorgeous! What a great idea! These caught my eye on Tip Junkie. I would love to link to them if you didn't mind.

Leanda said...

You have such brilliant ideas... when's the book coming out :) I love how these turned out!!

Anonymous said...

Such a wonderful project! And so pretty!

I love the photo of your Adelaide holding up the finished branch. She has such an incredible smile, doesn't she?

milk tea + polkadots said...

WOW, what a creative project! The leaves turned out beautifully. I can't even tell where the wires and real branches meet. Great job!

TheFiveDays said...

gorgeous!

ArtGirl said...

the leaf project- what cool colors! it really does look real!! nicely done.

catherine Les vignettes said...

Another great idea.. and it looks smashing. She's so proud !

Gregory said...

Here, I do not really consider it will work.
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