Photo by Rob D. Brodman; design by Sheila Schmitz
A single leaf contains a world of beauty. Bring a bit of nature's magic indoors with this simple project: Just gather a few of your favorite leaves on your next walk, flatten them under a book, then copy them face down with a color photocopier.
The resulting print, once glued to a canvas-covered art board (about $2), highlights a leaf's startling details, from its watercolor hues and treelike form to its intricate veins and delicate stem.
Look for unblemished specimens with beautiful shapes or variegated colors; we love the foliage of oak, sycamore, and smoke tree (pictured above, from top), as well as Japanese maple, Chinese pistache, and ginkgo.
Hang one perfect print for solo drama, or display several in a row. Plan on spending about $15 for the first project and roughly $5 apiece after that.
Step 1: Flatten each leaf slightly under a heavy book. Copy with a color photocopier (cover leaf with white paper to minimize shadows). Enlarge image to desired size.
Step 2: Select a canvas board smaller than the leaf copy. Dampen board surface by brushing with water and blotting off excess with a cloth or paper towel. While board is still damp, brush on a light, even coat of Mod Podge. Be sure to cover corners.
Step 3: While glue is still wet, slowly and gently apply print, working from one side of the board to the other. Use a clean cloth or paper towel to rub down the print as you go. When the print covers the entire board, continue to press and rub to smooth the surface. (Tip: If you want to try again with another print, wash off the glue and paper from the board before the glue sets, and start with another color copy.)
Step 4: Allow to dry thoroughly (ideally overnight under a heavy book) before using a craft knife to trim excess paper flush with the face of the board.
Step 5: Using white glue, affix the small frame to the center of the back to serve as a hanger.