Back in 2007, I made this “Leaf Bowl” with runners from faux leaves, because a friend laughed and said, “Oh, sure…I’d like to see THAT”! Well, here it is…and it’s held everything from fruit to potpourri to pine cones and Christmas balls!
This year, because he has been so great, I decided to create something similar for my wonderful doctor…something like a…hmm…a bread basket, that’s it!
It begins with leaf-gathering, softening them (I use Neutrogena Hand Cream) and flattening them, between two layers of paper towels, in my heavy dictionaries for a few days. These are oak leaves from a neighboring park.
The leaves are traced onto heavy Bristol board to make the patterns, which were cut with scissors and then traced onto 60 lb. kraft paper (over and over!)…until I figured I had enough for several projects. I rough-cut them to make it easier when doing the next step.
24 or 26 gauge copper wire pieces get hot-glue dots to secure them to the blank side of the kraft paper. Spread Sobo (TM) or any other flexible glue, making certain the edges of the kraft paper are well-coated…
…then press and flatten by rubbing onto a blank piece of kraft paper. Don’t be afraid to add more glue if those edges don’t seem to stick well. Yes, it gets messy, but the flexible glue washes off your hands easily with warm, soapy water. Set the pages aside to dry for at least 4 hours.
Next comes the hard part: Cut along the trace line carefully, and you’ll have a leaf! Here’s one right next to the real leaf…except for color/texture difference, the shape is perfect!
This step is also quite messy…the cut faux leaves must be given two coats of flexible glue on each side. Don’t bother doing this while wearing rubber gloves…just wash your hand a lot as they get too coated with glue! Lay the leaves on plastic (I used pillow bags here, but you can used a tarp or even black garbage can liners). The glue will stick a bit, but when dry, the leaf will pull right off, so no worries there! Just make certain to allow them to dry thoroughly between coats.
The base is a piece of corrugated cardboard ( I recycle things!), which I cut with an Exacto knife and a steel rule. The rounded corners can be drawn with a circle template or free-handed…it’s best not to have a sharp corner for the leaves to wrap around. Then, the cardboard gets traced onto kraft paper, with one piece to be cut larger by three-quarters of an inch or so, and the other piece cut about a quarter-inch less. I hot-glued a piece of cotton twine to firm up the edges of the corrugated, then slashed almost to the line of the larger piece of kraft paper…then flex glued the cardboard to that piece and turned the flaps, positioned and hot-glued the leaves, then gave each flap a dot of hot glue to secure them. Coat this side of the base with flex glue and place the smaller piece of kraft paper, situating it so the edges are pretty equal all the way around. This will be the bottom of the basket. Give both sides two full coats of flex glue, allowing each coat to dry completely before adding another.
The leaves have been base-coated, Next, apply a base coat to that side and you’re finally ready for the real fun part!
I sponged various colors of metallic acrylic paint on the leaves to give them a texture. In addition, I suspend various colors of bronze powder in Acrylic Polyurethane Satin finish varnish, which not only adds to the beauty of the faux leaves, but also protets them from moisture damage, and allows the to retain their flexibility. The leaves are then bent upward to be ready for the next step.
The branches are crafted from aluminum wire and floral tape (both available at a wholesale florist’s supply house). I’ve kept bits and pieces of wire over the years, knowing one day I could use them for something! I wound varying lengths in spots along a wire that was approximately the circumference of the base of my ‘bread basket’, then wrapped the floral tape around that. Two coats (yes, again!) of flexible glue and you have a flexible branch to add. I painted, used the bronze powder/varnish combo and, using super glue, attached it to the base, weaving it in and out of the leaves, then securing it with low-tack painters’ tape until dry. When thoroughly tried, you can then bend the leaves (thanks to the copper wire inside) to any shape that look aesthetically pleasing.
The entire basket, once assembled, was given three coats of Acrylic Polyurethane for protection…in between the first and second coats, I added some sprinkles of shreds of variegated red ‘gold leaf’ I had saved from other previous projects.
And here it is…my doctor’s ‘bread basket’!
It’s filled with cinnamon-scented pine cones, because I had no time to bake a loaf of challah bread! I presented it to him (and his family) last Friday as a Chanukah gift of ‘gelt’…and he was thrilled!
I have seven other, smaller baskets in the works, which hopefully I’ll be able to sell before Christmas…if not, they are just such pretty ‘catch-alls’ or future gifts for any occasion!