Anthropologie Inspired Table Decor From Palm Leaves

2 Materials
2 Hours

Make a striking bowl and candle holder by painting some palm leaves.

We have quite a collection of palm trees growing in the garden and this time of year they have all flowered and have fruit. I marvel at how rugged the leaves are, they seem to be indestructible. For instance, I have been submerging a big leaf in a bath of water for the past 3 days in the vain the hope that it will soften so that I can cut it. No such luck, whatever part is not completely submerged merely dries out again. They defy science!

So, as part of my current palm leaf mission I have resorted to using more manageably sized ones. These work really well as bowls and mini sculptures because they hold their structure.

This is the type of palm they are from - I don’t know what type exactly but its not a big one.

And these are the type of leaves I mean, with toothbrush as size reference. Someone will probably point out that they are not leaves at all but part of the fruit or flower. For the sake of hygiene I chose ones that had not been laying on the ground for too long or had any evidence of animal activity around them.

Some needed trimming with garden shears.

Next I lay them in water and bleach for 10 minutes or so, scrubbed them clean with an old toothbrush, then rinsed them with clean water and laid them out to dry.

In my wisdom I decided to spray paint them so went through the whole rigmarole of masking sections. In retrospect it would have been much easier to just paste a strip of masking tape and paint with a brush and chalk paint.

I used Krylon Chalky Finish in Anvil Grey. Some of the leaves were so stained that I painted everything instead of leaving some of the natural colour.

Then I used correction fluid to draw dots on simply because it was at hand. Initially I used the little sponge applicator that comes with the bottle but found it is much easier to use an ear bud (cue tip) as it gives a much neater dot as long as you keep the nib tidy and the cottonwool under control. I suggest using ear buds with bamboo sticks as these are more environmentally friendly. I’m sure you could also use acrylic paint or nail polish, or you could stick gems or stickers.

I was left with a pretty collection of bowls.

Looking at the image above you can see that not all the leaves have the same shape. This is where you have to determine which would be easier to use as bowls and which would could be pasted upright. The one on the right is better as a bowl.

I used a glue gun to stick the rounded ones to pieces of scrap wood. They look a little bit black and scary in this picture but seen from all sides they are very sculptural.

Here they are being used as part of a tablescape.

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Diywannab
    on Jan 17, 2020

    I love this idea and plan to try it. When using them for food, is there any concern that they could be toxic?

    • Robyn Garner
      on Jan 23, 2020

      I have these fall into my yard and as long as your paint isn't toxic, they're fine! All they are is hardened leaves/wood from high up in the palm. Palms aren't sprayed for bugs, etc.

  • Randal
    on Jan 17, 2020

    Just wondering, are they at all able to be manipulated, as in making a certain fold or design? Or do you have to work with what has been provided by nature?

    • Thea
      on Jan 18, 2020

      I think any non-toxic dry leaf should work provided they are sturdy enough.

  • Linda
    on Jan 28, 2020

    I have Banana trees and the leaves are huge , would they work the same way

    • Thea
      on Jan 28, 2020

      Do banana leaves not wilt? Why don’t you try. Any non- toxic, disease free, fibrous leaf should work. Something that holds its structure when dry.

Join the conversation

4 of 49 comments
  • Wendy
    on Jan 24, 2020

    Looove this idea!

  • Cassie
    on Jan 28, 2020

    So cute, they have that tribal ethnic feel about them. I really like they way they look it super cool. we dont have any palms here in the mountaons but my daughter and sister live in South Florida. so Im going to have to get them to send me some palm leaves....

    • Thea
      on Jan 28, 2020

      You nailed it with the description. A very good reason to go and visit them!

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