The craft NATURE PRINTS was adapted from the project “From the Yard/Nature Prints” found in All-Around-the-House Art and Craft Book by Patricia Z. Wirtenberg and published by Houghton Mifflin Company in1968
Leaves, bark, twigs
Printer’s inks or poster or acrylic paints in various colors (cheaper to use)
Drawing pencils (optional)
Rice or bond paper in white or various light colors (works best with poster/acrylic paints)
Brown wrapping paper or construction paper for use with printer’s inks
Brayer (or roller)
Piece of glass
Solvent for cleaning brayer and glass if using printer’s inks unless using water-soluble printer’s inks
- Collect fresh leaves from the trees or bushes in your neighborhood or yard. You will need some to experiment with and some for the last print. Other objects such as tree bark (if it’s easy to peel off) and even some twigs will work along with the leaves, too.
- Cover your work surface with newspaper. Lay down the glass and brayer on the work surface. Select the paints or inks that you will use. Acrylic or poster paints are less expensive than oil-based printer’s inks and easier to clean up after use.
- You can squeeze one color for each leaf or squeeze two or three colors side-by-side on the glass. The leaves in the samples shown used one or two or three colors at one time.
- Roll the paint or inks on the glass until the pigment covers the brayer. If you are using more than one color, let the colors run into each other. Roll the brayer over the leaf several times and turning the leaf over, lay it on a piece of paper like rice paper or bond paper. Use your hand to press the leaf so that it prints on the paper. Paper that is not too thick or too thin is the best to use if using acrylic or poster paints. Printer’s inks can use a slightly heavier paper like construction or brown wrapping paper.
- Remove the leaf and see how it printed on the paper. Experiment until you have a print that you like. Experiment with other materials from nature combined with the leaves.
- To create a mixed media design, color the whites of the leaves or the background paper or outline the printed leaves with colored pencils. See the two samples below.
- Frame the print or using old note card stationery, make note cards or poster cards of the printed leaves. They make a thoughtful gift for people who still write notes!