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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
1. Trace your leaves -- smooth side down -- onto 1/4-inch foam-core board. Maple, oak, and ash are good choices for leaf shapes.
2. Cut out the leaf shapes with a crafts knife. Change knife blades often to keep the edges of the foam-core board smooth.
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.
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.
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.
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.