I once saw a leaf bowl designed from clay. I wanted one for myself, and I wanted to make it myself. I made this autumn leaf plate in early November. (It may be December, but I still wanted to share it.)
First, I purchased air-dry clay from Crayola. Though I could have made salt dough (like for our keepsake ornaments), I wanted real clay; since I don't have access to a kiln, this is an excellent option for me. I chose Crayola because I trust them and my children's art teacher recommended it. Based on her recommendation, I bought just the five pound tub of the air-dry clay. I didn't want to have so much that I couldn't use it in a fairly short time. For your own reference, less than a pound of clay is needed for this large leaf plate. Also, a 2.5pound tub is about the size of a Cool Whip container.
I knew I wanted a really large leaf. Our own backyard only has a few trees. I kept my eye out for large, green leaves. By the time I made my leaf plate, many trees were bare. However, after taking Little Sister to her first dentist appointment, the two of us collected lots of leaves from one of the trees outside of the office.
I made the mistake of not placing the leaves in a book upon arrival home. By the time I was ready to make my leaf plate from clay, I had to soak my leaf in large bowl so they did not crumble.
How to Make a Clay Leaf Plate
Cardboard or canvas for clay (NOT wax paper)
acrylic paint (green, red, yellow)
spray sealer in gloss or satin
1. Working on a large piece of cardboard, knead a large handful of clay to remove air bubbles. Form a ball and then flatten it to a disk.2. Roll the disk flat. It needs to be between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Aim for thicker to ensure it does not break. (If I were to do it again, I would roll my clay much larger. I lost some of the beautiful leaf's points.)
3. Press the leaf, back side down, on the clay. The veins on the back of the leaf are pronounced with ridges that imprint on the clay.
5. Use the toothpick to retrace the leaf's veins. Begin with main veins. For smaller veins, do not cut as deep into the clay.
6. Use water to smooth the edges. The clay will dry as it is. Any "crumbs" of clay or sharp edges will be more pronounced when it is dry.
7. Choose your bowl carefully. I used a shallow soup bowl to turn up the edges of my clay leaf plate slightly. To make a bowl, you will want to use a deeper bowl. Based on the size of your leaf and bowl, decide if you want to place the clay leaf on the inside or outside (upside down) of the bowl. Wrap in aluminum foil to protect the bowl.
8. Allow the leaf to thoroughly dry according to manufacturer's instructions. I allowed a couple extra days just to be sure.
9. Paint the leaf, including all of the crevices, as desired*. Don't forget to paint the back. Allow to dry completely. (Acrylic paint stains so use care and protect your surfaces and yourself.)
10. Seal with your spray sealer outdoors. (Mod Podge could be used as well.)
*I began painting my leaf a greenish-yellow. Next I added orange and then a reddish-orange. Lastly, I added red. The edges of my leaf or red, while the inside is lighter in color.
I have lots of clay left over. What projects do you suggest for the children or me? Big Sister already made candle holders. I had her design them on paper before creating them. We had to compromise on how elaborate they would be. It was fun for her.
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