Art with Alyssa: Fall Leaves

Celebrate the season by making fall leaves with a DIY printing plate made from Styrofoam. Print leaves onto paper just for fun or get creative and use the printing plate to make thank you cards, placemats or a decorative wall hanging for Thanksgiving.

Discussion Points for Parents/Teachers
This type of printing is called intaglio, which comes from the Italian word “intagliare,” meaning to engrave.
Talk about fall leaves, shape, symmetry, how plants get nutrients or fall colors. 

cut leaf plate 1991      

Supplies

  • Styrofoam food tray (those used in meat packaging are best/thickest) OR a Styrofoam plate OR     a sheet of fun foam
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Scissors
  • Paintbrush (flat, spongy kind)
  • Colored and/or white paper
  • Red, orange, brown and yellow paint (fall colors)
  • Optional: glue stick and yarn for wall hanging


painted print plate 1991

Directions

  • Cut off the edges of a Styrofoam tray or plate to make the surface flat. If using fun foam, skip this step. This is the printing plate.
  • Using a ballpoint pen, etch/draw a leaf shape into the printing plate. Do not press too hard or the pen will go through the plate. If using fun foam, press hard to make deep lines.
  • Add details such as veins and a stem. Look at real leaves or pictures of leaves for inspiration.
  • Cut out the leaf shape. It’s OK to leave a small border around the edge.  
  • Paint on the etched side of the printing plate, then press it firmly onto the paper.
  • Lift the foam to reveal a printed leaf. Repeat as desired. Let dry.

home 1991    

wall hanging 1991   Thank you card 1991

Other ideas

  • Matte your design on colored paper to make cards or a wall hanging.
  • Use fabric paint to print leaves onto a t-shirt or tote bag.
  • Make many printed leaves, cut them out and write what you are thankful for on the back of each one. Place the leaves in a large bowl to share thankful thoughts with visitors.


Alyssa Navapanich is a nationally recognized art educator who teaches art to elementary school kids in East San Diego County. She is the author of San Diego Family Magazine’s “Art with Alyssa” column.

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