Friday, October 9, 2009

Using Natural Elements - Leaf Prints

This month’s theme here at Gingersnap Creations is “Harvest,” and the topic for the tutorial was to use natural materials. These days I am mostly into making cards, so I wanted to choose something that could be used for cards and scrapbooking. I decided to try a technique we were probably all first exposed to in elementary school, LOL! - using natural leaves to imprint a pattern on paper. I got out lots of different types of inks (pigment, dye, pearlescent, etc.), plucked an assortment of leaves from my front yard, and got inky!

First, select a variety of leaves that are an appropriate size for both your project and your inkpads. (Very large leaves are rather difficult to ink evenly, and tiny ones do not produce enough discernable detail.) Use leaves that are still supple - you don’t want dry leaf crumblies in your ink.

Place the leaf onto the inkpad (either top down or underside down - they both create wonderful effects).

Put a slip of scratch paper over the pad, and then roll with a brayer using medium pressure. Remove the inky scratch paper, and carefully remove your leaf from the inkpad.

Place the leaf on your cardstock, then layer another, clean piece of scratch paper over the leaf, and roll the brayer over the paper using firm pressure.

Remove the scratch paper, lift off the leaf, and ta-da! Now, don’t discard that leaf! Lay it right back down on another piece of paper (or the same one if you are making a masterboard), and brayer it again (don’t forget that layer of scratch paper... we want to keep our brayers clean). I found the second “printing” is often just as nice as, or prettier than, the first. It all depends on how juicy your ink pad is, what type of leaf you are using (the fuzzier ones take up the ink differently than the smooth ones), and how smooth your paper is.

Experiment using the top and underside of your leaves to make your impression. You can use the leaves over and over - they hold up pretty well. Use different types of inks. For my projects, I just LOVED the look of the Brilliance pearlescent inks (I used Rocket Red Gold) - the leaves took up and transferred the ink really well, and created a finely detailed, shimmery image.

One last photo of my finished masterboard, which I used for the background of the “Go confidently....” card. Why am I showing you my messy table? Do you see that little piece of scratch paper on the right, with the negative image of an oak leaf? You could actually carefully place a nice piece of cardstock onto the ink pad as you ink up the leaf with your brayer, and use the resulting image for an entirely different look.

I hope you have fun with this, and get some leaves inky! I’d love to see what you create!

Sources: All stamps by Cornish Heritage Farms.


  1. What beautiful cards you have made. Isn't it strange how we spend all our hard earned pennies on stamps etc and yet we have so much right in our back gardens!! Fab creations.
    Dawn xx

  2. Fantastic.
    Just my kind of project.
    I remember doing leaf prints as a child- its strange, the arty crafty things we did at school are always my favourites to revisit and add a little bit more to as you have done here.

  3. Awesome! Great tutorial. I love how you not only used these beautiful leaves but also captured their beauty in ink!

  4. Your cards are beautiful!!! I had that class too as a child!! Thanx for reminding me to appreciate nature more for my art!!

  5. Great Idea!
    Now I want to play with leaves.
    Blessings, peace, and love to you,

  6. excellent project and beautiful samples!!
    I want to go play with leaves now!!

  7. great tutorial
    thans so much for sharing

  8. I love doing leaf prints - this looks great Jean! Have you tried doing "Indian leaf prints"? You actually use the pigment from the leaf (or flower) to make the impression, basically by beating the heck out of it while sandwiched between a couple of layers of paper (originally fabric but paper works!).

  9. I've got to send this post's link to my daughter. She and her daughter's will have fun doing this. The prints turn out very nice.

  10. WOW, Jean, this is beautiful and I looove this technique so much I am going to go and get some leaves and have a go myself...thanks for the inspirations x

  11. What a great project using nature as inspiration, and a few less to pick up in the yard too. LOL


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