Nature Crafts with leaves and seed heads
Nature crafts for kids are a great way to encourage the observation and wonder of natural forms at any time of year. My favourite is in the autumn using the shapes of seed heads and leaves to make imprints into clay. The shapes and patterns become easier to see once they are displayed on a clay tile . Then its easy to paint or gild them to see that pattern really come alive.
It’s a great thing to do with that collection of natural finds that’s been building up, to preserve and make them last.
Collect your seed heads, try to enjoy this bit because as the days are shorter it’s a reason to get outside even just quickly. Lots of plants by the end of the summer have formed their seed heads and wonderful shapes and patterns occur.
Making the nature imprint
- roll out your air drying clay to about 8-10mm thick. Cut into squares.
- with your seed head and push slowly but firmly into the clay. Then ease it off again carefully trying not to pull the clay away with it.
- set aside taking care to keep the shape intact and allow to dry for at least 24 hrs at room temp or whatever the instructions for your clay says. if you want to be able to hang them (on the christmas tree for example) use a cocktail stick make a small hole through a corner at this stage before the clay dries.
- Leaf imprints. The process is the same. We used a roller to press the leaf into the clay once we had laid it in place. We kept the shapes of clay pieces organic by following the size and shape of the leaves rather than cutting geometric
TIP: less is more here, one print in each shape is good, but its hard to impress this on an enthusiastic youngster I know.
The next bit is a bit tricky, you can leave as they are or paint them.
Painting or decorating your nature craft imprint
- Once the leaf prints were completely dry, we painted over the imprint and the surrounding area in white paint. Taking care not to fill the imprint with too much paint so the texture is lost. Several thin coats of paint are better than one thick coat. Leave to dry completely.
- Mix a thin, dark coloured paint solution, using only the colour and water (do not add white). You want a thin wash of colour. We used dark brown. With a clean brush, carefully paint just the imprint with the dark colour paint, letting the watery mix spread through the imprint. Be sure not to let it run outside the imprint area. This might take a bit of practise. Use a tissue to soak up any excess paint. Leave to dry completely.
- Paint in a thin coat of PVA which will dry to a clear sheen, for the finished look.
- Metal leaf is a micro thin sheet of metallic foil that you can embellish surfaces with using a thin glue solution. Make sure you get the ‘size’ glue when you get the metal leaf. paint the glue on the flat space of the tile around your imprint leave for a few minutes to become touch dry. Make sure you don’t get any on the print itself, its tricky you wont see the glue as its thin.
When the glue is touch dry lay the thin metal leaf onto the surface and gently smooth it down with a SOFT brush. The metal will adhere to all surfaces with the glue on. make sure you cover all the area around the print you want to. then gently with the brush rub away the metal leaf from the imprinted area and the edges. It will not stick to anywhere that doesn’t have the glue so you will find it will float away into the air, creating a kind of golden confetti moment around your nature crafts.