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Leaf Stamping

Bring a touch of nature into every room in your home. Learn how to create graceful painted accents using natural leaves and a little paint. Decorate walls or fabric -- it's easy and fun.

Mother Nature has come up with the perfect image for painted borders and trims -- freshly fallen leaves. Scatter their crisp images across towels, fabrics, rugs and walls by brushing leaves with paint and pressing them onto your surface. Whether on fabrics (shown here) or walls, you can master this technique with our detailed how-to instructions.

Decorate a hand towel.

Choose hand towels with a smooth overall surface or a banded edge; heavy texture distorts the stamped pattern. If you can't find such a towel, stamp the pattern onto a strip of muslin or canvas, then sew it to the towel to create a patterned edge.

Edge a throw rug.

Rugs should also have a flat surface; a deep nap will distort the leaf pattern. Because rugs are designed to be absorbent, they soak up paint like it's water. This creates a solid leaf pattern as opposed to the textured look you see on the wall and fabrics.

Make a custom curtain.

Artists' canvas is perfect for transferring the designs onto large areas. Wash medium-weight canvas in warm water and dry it to check shrinkage. Custom-make a curtain or skirt in the size you need, then stamp the leaf design around the edges.

Fabric Stamping Tips

  • Achieve the most detailed stamping by using a tightly woven natural fabric such as cotton or linen.
  • Remove fabric finishes by machine-washing your fabric in warm water and detergent. Dry the fabric in the dryer. Do not use fabric softeners or dryer sheets.
  • Press the fabric, then smoothly tape it to a work surface.
  • Select acrylic-based fabric paints (at crafts and fabric stores) for stamping fabric. Check the paint container's label for any special instructions on heat setting.
Brighten the bathroom.

Painted on a backdrop of white, natural green leaves bring a fresh, simple design to a basic boxy bathroom. Apply the two-toned stamped design over a base coat of latex paint. Keep a little extra wall paint on hand for making any needed corrections. Simply "white out" your mistake, let dry, and try again.

Wall Stamping Tips

  • Stamp a row of leaves at natural breaks in the room -- at the sink level, along the ceiling, or around trims and windows. Go from horizontal to vertical rows on walls or fabrics by angling the leaf with the stem pointing into the corner.
  • Select from a variety of paint for wall stamping; flat latex paints, glazes, or acrylic paints all work well.
  • Choose tones that are muted, such as sage and pink. They have a less seasonal look and are easy to live with.

Choose a variety of fresh leaves or treat dry leaves with glycerine (available at crafts stores) to make them pliable. If you can't find the shapes you want, preserved leaves are often available at craft stores.

Step 1

1. Trace your leaves -- smooth side down -- onto 1/4-inch foam-core board. Maple, oak, and ash are good choices for leaf shapes.

Step 2

2. Cut out the leaf shapes with a crafts knife. Change knife blades often to keep the edges of the foam-core board smooth.

Step 3

3. Use double stick tape to fasten each leaf to its foam-core board shape. Place the smooth, non-veined side of the leaf against the board.

Step 4

4. Paint the leaves with a thin coat of paint -- too much paint will muddy the veins and details. Wash leaf as needed to remove drying paint.

Step 5

5. Press the wet leaf to the wall or fabric, taking care not to twist or slide it. Carefully pull it away and repeat the process.

Step 6

6. When paint is dry, fill any blank areas with a second hue. Apply lightly and randomly with a brush or sponge for a natural effect.


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