Holiday project from hardware store screening

Peter O. Whiteley  – September 3, 2004

It’s modern-day alchemy: turn ordinary wire screening into sparkly decorations. Squeeze-bottles of glitter-filled “dimensional paints” (sold at most art stores) effect the transformation. Draw simple outlines on aluminum or brass filter screening with the paint, let it dry, then cut out the shapes with metal snips. The thick, flexible paint keeps the fine wires in the screening from fraying and gives each cutout a glittering border.

There’s a festive splendor to the leaves shown here, which are also pictured in Changing tableaux. Use the leaves to hold candy, as tabletop and mantel decorations, as tree ornaments, or as bases for votive candles.

The leaves pictured are made of 50-lines-to-the-inch screening, which is sold in foot-wide rolls for about 50 cents per running inch. If you keep your leaf shapes small and draw them close to each other, you can make a foot of screening go far.

Collect leaves with interesting, multifaceted forms ― maples, sycamores, or pin oaks ― to use as templates. If you can’t find leaf shapes you like, copy some from field guides or botanical books. Suggest the skeletal form of leaves by painting a pattern of veins.

To get a sense of how the paint flows, try a few practice lines on a scrap of the screening. Leave no breaks in the line, and don’t let the screening sag ― the paint could stick to the pattern. 

TIME: About five minutes per leaf, not including drying

COST: About $10 for six leaves


*One leaf (or more), flattened

*12-inch lengths of 1-by-1 molding

* Pushpins

*12-inch length of brass screening

*A bottle of gold glitter dimensional paint

* Metal snips


1. Place flattened leaf or leaf image on work surface, and flank with wood molding.

2. Using pushpins, tack brass screening to molding. Trace outline of leaf with dimensional paint. Repeat for other shapes.

3. When paint dries, cut out leaves, cutting through the outer edge of the paint. Trim any frayed edges.

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