Finding beauty in Fall
In my last blog I talked about taking time to engage in artistic activities with your loved ones. One of the favorite memories from my childhood is running through the woods and marveling in all the wonderful textures and shapes in nature with my family. To this day, leaves, bark, and rocks play a big part in my art. Last week there was one last chance to get out and frolic in the Fall weather and I found many beautiful leaves to play with. Even if leaves are brown and crisp they can be used in art.
When choosing your leaves, make sure they are whole and remember that there is no perfect shape. In fact, it is the little imperfections that make your nature treasures so special. When searching for your perfect specimen, take time to take deep breaths of the fresh, Fall air and contemplate the beauty of the season. Sometimes it is hard to find beauty in the barren landscape of Fall but beauty is all around. It isn’t necessary to have your project in mind when you begin your search. Sometimes, the leaves and natural elements that you choose will determine your end-product (but having an idea of what you will do works well, too).
I was in search of leaves to make clay spoon rests or trivets or wall hangings. I know. That is a varied list! I ended up with about two or three dozen leaves of different sizes. For the spoon rests, I wanted something that could easily be curved and could hold a spoon without letting the drips end up on the counter. I put these leaves in a gallon sized zipper plastic bag and that is where they stayed for a few days until I had a good block of time to devote to the messiness of clay. Note here that you can use air-dry clay for this, which I have not done, but I know others that do this with success. What I use is clay that will be kiln-fired and then glazed and then re-fired to melt the glaze into a hard, glass-like surface. You can also fire this clay in an open fire and maybe we’ll talk about that another day but for now, know that I’m using a kiln to create these pieces.
I roll the clay out to about ¼ inch thickness and then press the leaf, vein side down, into the clay. I use a rolling pin to get the leaf’s veins deep into the clay. Next, I use a needle tool or a thin knife to cut around the leaf and then prop up the parts of the leaf I want to curve with newspaper wads or balls left over clay. When they are no longer tacky, I’ll take a sponge and wipe around the edges to remove the sharpness left by the cutting. I let these dry out for a few days until they are void of moisture. Handle these very carefully, as they are fragile and break easily. I’ll fire these to a “bisque” state and then glaze and fire again.
You can also make cards or prints with leaves by painting on the vein side and then pressing them onto paper or cards. These can make great greeting cards from your family or backgrounds for your mixed media arts.
Margaret Miller Butcher
Using natural elements to art and craft if easy!
You can make prints....
or create something useful...
Spoon rests make great stocking stuffers and are an easy gift from the heart!
Or you can use your finished piece as an art piece or a functional piece.