DIY: Easy Art Leaf Prints
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One of the things I love most about being a parent? Getting to feel like a kid again as I join my children in experimenting with nature. Normally, on a gorgeous spring day, the kids and I disappear into the woods to build forts and collect specimens. But several weeks ago, Solvi and I found ourselves trapped at home on a lovely day while we waited for the dryer repairman. So we devised an at-home experiment. It began, as usual, with Solvi collecting tiny bits of flora from the yard. Rather than arranging them in some Lilliputian vase, I decided to try something different: leaf prints. I vaguely remembered seeing something like this somewhere, but I didn't have the particulars, so we just winged it. We had so much fun gathering the plants and banging them with hammers that the results hardly mattered. But I do like what we got: an ephemeral homage to spring. Above: To make leaf prints like this simple trio of sprouts, all you need is: leaves and flowers, paper, tape, a hammer, and some work surface that you don't mind getting banged up—we used a piece of scrap board. Above: First we gathered various flora from our yard. The results are often quite different from what you'd expect, so I encourage you to experiment. For example, we thought that flowers would produce the best prints, but these were often too juicy and would just become a blur. Simple specimens with little water actually produced the most interesting prints. Above: In terms of scale, you can be as ambitious as you want. This time we opted for smaller scale flowers and card stock. After securing a piece of paper with tape to our board, Solvi began arranging the leaves and flowers on top. Above: A simple composition with scilla. Above: When your arrangement is complete, carefully place another piece of paper on top and tape this to the board as well. Now the really fun part—start hammering. Make sure you hammer the entire composition underneath (you can see it through the paper). A rubber mallet would have been preferable, but we didn't have one, so a regular hammer worked just fine. Above: Gently peel away the top piece of paper and carefully scrape away any plant "goo" to get the final prints. Here, I love how the hammering released a purple pigment in the stems that was not overtly visible in the original sprouts. Above: In some leaves (those with less water), the veins were brought forth by the hammering. Above: Solvi surveys her work. Above: Our final prints, arranged on the dining room wall, make a charming and extemporaneous homage to spring. N.B. Want more natural creations? Browse all our favorite flora DIY projects , from sugared violets to lavender soda .