This autumn DIY wall art project reminds me of the leaf rubbings we made as children in school. There’s just something about picking out natural elements and crafting with them that bring me back to my childhood.
DIY Wall Art For Fall: Black & White Leaf Printing
These leaf rubbings are easy to make with a little practice, a steady hand and some patience. This is the first time I’ve made these prints and I’m going to share all of the tips I picked up through trial and error.
I placed my prints in the hallway over my entryway bench. I’ve included some tips for framing your prints at the bottom of this post.
- Stamp Ink Refills (I used black, but gold or copper shimmer would look good, too.)
- Paper (Read more about this under framing towards the bottom.)
- Makeup Sponge (Dollar Tree has them.)
I started working on printer paper which is 8.5 X 11 in size. When selecting your leaves, look for large, uniform, fresh leaves. What I mean by “fresh leaves” is avoid using dried out shriveled leaves that have fallen to the ground. You won’t get the best results with those. I picked my leaves off of the trees before they fell.
If you cannot find leaves that are large enough to fill the center of your paper, select a grouping of leaves. That’s what I did with the Hickory Nut leaves. If you want to do more than one print, select leaf sizes that are similar.
Before we begin, it’s important to note that we will be stamping with the backside of the leaves. I tested it on both sides and the texture of the leaf is more prominent on the back.
You’ll also want to protect your work surface with a disposable tablecloth or thick paper. If you want, you can also wear a pair of disposable gloves to protect your hands from the ink. I had a hard time working with gloves, so I just cleaned my hands with rubbing alcohol when the project was finished.
Start with your leaf on a piece of scrap paper.
Place drips of your ink along the surface of the leaf.
Use a disposable makeup sponge to blot the ink until the whole surface of the leaf is covered. Don’t forget to ink the stem.
Carefully grip the sides of the stem between your thumb and index finger and lift it off of the paper. You will get some ink on your fingers, but the goal is to leave enough ink on the stem so it prints on the paper. Then, flip the leaf, so the ink is facing down. Hold it over your paper in the position you want the print to be displayed. Now, carefully place the leaf on your fresh piece of paper. Set it straight down, taking care not to slide or move it.
I found it worked best to let the tip of the leaf touch the paper, then roll the rest of the leaf down and finally let go of the stem.
Cover the leaf with another piece of paper. Again, take care not to move the leaf. Just carefully set another piece of paper over it. Now, press your fingers on the paper, holding the leaf in place.
Now holding the leaf so it doesn’t move, rub the paper on top of the leaf. The top piece of paper will absorb any extra ink from around the edges of your leaf. It also acts as a smooth barrier, so you can slide your fingers around the leaf and press it down. You can see in the image above that the leaf impression came through the top paper. Rub the leaf from the center working out towards the edges and then strait down over the stem.
Now remove the top paper and discard it. Press your fingers on the leaf along the stem. I found that sometimes there is a spot where the stem meets the leaf that doesn’t touch the paper below. You need to carefully press this area with your fingers to be sure it prints.
Then lift the leaf straight up off the paper.
You’ll probably need to practice it a few times to get the process down. I went through about 25 sheets of copy paper (for three leaves) before I nailed the technique. It was worth it though. Copy paper is cheap and I ended up with some gorgeous prints for my wall. You can reuse each leaf several times before getting a new leaf for stamping.
The frames I chose are for 11 X 14 images with an overall dimension of 15 3/8″ X 18 3/8″ for each frame. They are solid wood, large in size and fill out the wall space nicely. I added 8 X 10 mats to bring the size down to fit the paper.
To mount the images, I took the picture that was inside the frame when purchased and added paper cement to it. Then I added paper cement to the back of my print. Once they were dry, I pressed them together. This way the prints were perfectly centered in the frames.
A few things to note…copy paper is a bright white with gray undertones. If you want a nice warm image, purchase a nicer paper for your final prints. While you are at the craft store picking up your paper, select a mat to match. Not all whites are the same.
I get it...life is busy. I've added all three of these digital prints to my free library. You can just go to this post and subscribe at the top sidebar to receive the password to my library of free resources.
Leaf printing is a fun craft that can be used on throw pillows, tea towels, cards and more. Hopefully this DIY wall art project gave you some inspiration. For more fall inspiration, check out these ideas. Thanks for following along.