How to Make Leaf Prints (Part Two)

hi i'm julia hood the manager of school and family learning at reynolda house museum of american art in our pop-up studio today we're going to take another look at leaves this time seeing how we
can make prints with leaves so we're going to show you two options one using either temper
paint or acrylic paint to make a work of art with various leaves and making a print like this
or then if you want to get a little fancy and use a very special print making tool i'll show
you another way to use printmaking ink and make a leaf print like this for a little inspiration
as you think about colors you may want to explore reynolda's painting mounts adam and eve painted
in 1871 by jasper francis cropsy cropsy painted this in new york state in the northwestern united
states when he first showed paintings like this with trees in autumn in england people criticized
him for not choosing the right colors of paint for the leaves later he showed real leaves from trees
alongside his paintings to show that autumn really does have these colors in the united states
i'll show you what you need to complete both of these projects and how to make them
to make either of these projects you need to first gather some leaves freshly fallen leaves that
haven't dried yet are ideal here i have three different kinds of oak and some maple leaves
here's a hint if you have fun with this project at reynolda we make leaf prints throughout the
year if you rinse and dry freshly fallen leaves you can place them in a plastic zippered bag and
freeze them for later use but they need to be dry then they can last for more than a year if stored
properly i'm going to use tempra paint but you could also use acrylics you'll just have to move
quickly if you do that if you want to get really fancy you could also even use screen printing
ink and print your leaves onto fabric you'll want to wear old clothes that can get messy
or add a smock or apron you will need a brush a palette some water and several paper towels
for your art you will need a piece of paper i recommend something a little thicker than copy
paper i'm using an all media paper but a slightly absorbent paper that you can paint on without it
wrinkling will work you will also need a couple of pieces of scrap paper for either project
if you were going to make leaves with print making ink like we do in the studios at reynolda
you'll want to find a water-based printing ink speed ball and blick art materials both have nice
options for use with young artists you will also need a brayer the print making tool that will help
you spread ink evenly over your leaves then we need a flat surface to put ink onto at reynolda we
use a rectangle of safety glass but i'll show you how to make your own inking surface with a piece
of cardboard some tape and either aluminum foil or wax paper if you have a large flat plastic plate
that will also work at reynolda we use an etching press for printing in our studio but you will be
able to do hand printing at home for hand printing you need a tool to help provide some pressure
and transfer the ink from your leaf to your paper a wooden spoon is perfect for this but you could
also use a tool called a baron which is designed for hand printing to make prints with paint and
leaves start by squeezing a little bit of paint out onto your pallet a disposable plate will
work well choose your first leaf and flip it so that the underside is facing up you want to paint
the side where the veins stick up the most place this leaf over a piece of scrap paper and paint
all parts of it making sure to paint the petiole what we tend to think of as the stem of the leaf
place the leaf paint side down onto your art paper hold it in place with one hand and press all areas
of the leaf with your other hand you might want to crumple a paper towel to help you dab and
press at your leaf but try not to get paint from your hand or the paper towel onto your art paper
you can keep using the same leaf over and over adding different colors i started with
yellow so that when i added red it would become orange and then eventually more and more red
without me having to wash the leaf you can also use different leaves as well
remember you can print over top of other colors to create an illusion of overlapping leaves
if you want to print only a part of the leaf at the edge of your paper
just be sure to place a piece of scrap paper under the part of your leaf outside the paper
to make a leaf print with printing ink you first need to prepare your inking surface
i tore a piece of wax paper and wrapped it around some cardboard
a flattened cereal box will do then i pulled the wax paper so that it was tight and i taped it down
then squeeze out a small amount of ink about the size of a nickel with your brayer you will roll
a small square by rolling and picking up your brayer roll lift roll lift roll lift then turn
the brayer 90 degrees and roll again lifting as you go the goal is to spread the ink evenly
over the brayer because you were going to use it to put ink onto your leaf it's like loading up a
paint roller before you paint a wall just try to make a small square about the width of your brayer
whenever you set your brayer down after inking place it roller side up so that it won't roll away
place a piece of scrap paper beside your inking surface and choose a leaf
place the leaf underside up on the paper we will roll the ink onto the veiny underside you can see
why we need the scrap paper when you roll the main part of the leaf roll away from you and lift up
do not roll backwards if you roll back towards you the leaf will stick to the brayer and it might rip
then after you've put the ink onto the leaf make one roll
down the petiole what we think of as the stem to cover it as well
make sure your hands are clean then place your art paper on a clean area of your work surface
lift the ink leaf up and turn it ink side down onto your paper cover the leaf with a piece of
scrap paper hold it in place with one hand and with the other hold your wooden spoon or baron and
rub it carefully over the entire area of the leaf don't forget the petiole lift the scrap paper and
carefully raise an edge of the leaf to see if you made a print if not place that corner of a leaf
back down and try again with your scrap paper and spoon you can use the same leaf for several prints
but you will want to fold your scrap paper so that you don't transfer any ink to your art paper and
to try to keep ink off your wooden spoon you can also use paper towels for this part if you wish
you can re-ink your leaf between paintings or you can make another print
without adding more ink this would be called a ghost print
i chose to use just one color for this work of art but you could use different colors or
different leaves depending on what you have available have fun making prints with leaves

Chat Replay is disabled for this Premiere.

We’re just going to leaf you with this latest Pop-Up Studio from Manager of School and Family Learning, Julia Hood: in this episode, use that fall foliage to create unique rubbings with additional pops of watercolor.

View fall color and leaves in Reynolda’s collection:
Jasper Crospey, Mounts Adam and Eve, 1871
William Wegman, Rangeley, Maine, 1982

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