Fall is the perfect time of year for appreciating beautiful foliage—the colors are vibrant and the falling leaves provide a plethora of opportunities for creative art projects. Your children can capture the beauty of autumn leaves in this simple art activity designed to bring the beauty of fall indoors.
Nature printing is a process by which a subject from the natural world (such as a leaf, flower or rock) is inked and rubbed to give a direct impression onto a material of the artist’s choice. Naturalists, explorers and researchers have used nature printing for centuries as a way to produce an image of nature that can be catalogued and preserved. In addition to being practical, nature printings can also be quite beautiful.
This activity will guide your children through the process of creating a leaf print. For younger children, introduce the project by discussing the
change of seasons and why the leaves change colors in the fall. Older children can also explore different types of trees and the shape of their leaves. You can begin the project by exploring different sizes and textures of leaves to determine what will make the best prints.
Once your print is complete, you can frame it for a beautiful, handmade fall decoration. Smaller leaves can be used to create note cards or thank you notes. If you participated in September’s Learning Adventures activity, you can a leaf print to create a one-of-a-kind cover for the type of handmade journal that you created.
- Explore outside and find interesting leaves that are not yet brittle.
- Choose which side of your leaf that you will print. You can create your print using either side, but the back usually has more texture and more pronounced veins.
- Using a liquid ink or paint (tempera, acrylic, watercolor, etc.), brush or roll your color onto the leaf.
- Lay your leaf with the paint side facing up on a flat surface. If you are using more than one leaf in your creation, lay them in your desired arrangement.
- Cover the leaf or arrangement with a piece of paper and rub gently with your fist to transfer the image.
- Peel off the leaf and let your masterpiece dry.
- To experiment further, try wetting your paper before you rub the leaf. What happens to the colors? How does it affect the resulting print?
Did You Know?
Did you know that ancient Japanese fishermen used to make fish rubbings (Gyotaku) to record their catch? Even Benjamin Franklin discovered a clever use for nature printing. He got the idea to use leaf prints on currency to prevent counterfeiters. Even the best counterfeiters could not duplicate the intimate detail and irregular patterns created by the leaf impressions.
This Learning Adventures project is sponsored by Primrose Schools. Activity idea provided by Oklahoma A+ Schools, the state’s only research-based whole school network with a mission of nurturing creativity in every learner. Learn more at www.okaplus.org.