Bring Nature Inside With DIY Leaf Print Art

by Jeff Burk 11/13/2021

Making art prints with leaves has long been considered a fall craft project. However, it’s possible and easy to make beautiful and unique DIY wall decor using leaves throughout the entire year. Here’s how to use leaves to make art prints.

Materials

Paint (acrylic or tempera works best)
Paint brushes
Palette for mixing colors
Water
Paper, card stock or wood
A rolling pin or other rolling tool
Your choice of leaves

How to Find the Best Leaves for Printing

You can use practically any type of leaf for this project. Opt for leaves that are flat or mostly flat and not so soft that they break easily. Leaves with vein patterns or ridges make for the most interesting prints because of the extra texture.

You can go forage for leaves outdoors or even use leaves from your houseplants. If you decide to take a cutting of a fresh leaf, make sure it’s one the plant can spare. Pruning leaves unnecessarily can stress out the plants. While it’s definitely easier to find leaves on the ground in fall, you may still find some great options out in the world.

How to Make Leaf Prints

  1. Paint on one side of the leaf, being careful not to add too much paint. When in doubt, use less than you need and add to it if needed. You can either use one solid color, mix colors or create specific patterns and shapes.

  2. If you’re using thick paper like card stock or watercolor paper, lightly dampen it with a spritz from a spray bottle. This will help keep the leaf steady for your print and avoid smudging.

  3. When your printing surface is prepared, carefully place the leaf paint-side down. Set another piece of paper or paper towel on top.

  4. Use your rolling pin or other rolling tool to apply an even amount of pressure back and forth over the leaf. Use fewer strokes for a lighter print or use more for deeper color and saturation.

  5. Lift away the top paper carefully so you don’t move the leaf. Peel the leaf off of the paper and you’ll have a beautiful, colorful impression on the surface.

Additional Tips

Unlike rubber stamps, stencils or other tools used in printmaking, leaves are very delicate. Handle them gently and don’t be surprised if one tears during the process. It may create a more natural look for your art piece.

You can also use this same process on other surfaces like metal, plastic or even fabric. For metal or plastic, use acrylic paint and use fabric paint for cloth. No matter what, you now have a fun and simple way to bring nature into your home decor and give new life to fallen leaves.

About the Author
Author

Jeff Burk

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