Sunday, September 21, 2008

How to Make Fall Leaves that look like a Metal Sculpture

Here is a technique that turns plain brown paper bags or package paper into a realistic looking metal sculpture.

I know last time we did some fall leaves but I couldn't help myself. I needed to try one more.

(click on picture to see detail)

This requires adult supervision as we use a candle.

Materials Required:

brown paperbags or package paper, tacky glue, wire 18 gauge or so, a candle, matches,

scissors, kleenex or paper towel, some metallic acrylic paint (optional), paintbrush, a bare branch

Lets get started.

Take your brown paper, cut into manageable pieces about the size of your hand. For this project I want 7 leaves but you can do however many you want. Odd numbers usually look better ( the golden rule of flower arranging)

Trace out you leaf shape, you can use the templates from DLTK again if you wish. You need two exact shapes for each leaf.

I just cut the two out at the same time.

Cut wire for the stem. You are going to sandwich it between the two cutouts. Each wire should be about 6 to 8 inches. Mine is black but you can use whatever you have on hand.

Spread some tacky glue on one of the cut out shapes.

Place wire in between, I bent mine a bit so it would be held in place a bit better.

Place other cut out on top matching edges and press to seal.

Do all the leaves. They kinda look good just like this but wait till the next step.

GO OUTSIDE. You want to do the next part in a well ventilated area, there is a bit of smoke from this technique so trust me go outside.

Spread the tacky glue over one side of the cutout leaf.
I used a paintbrush and coated it completely, don't be shy with the glue.

Light your candle. Holding onto the wire ( don't worry it doesn't get hot), hold the leaf with the glue exposed to the flame. Get right down into the flame. The tacky glue is not flammable, instead you will get bubbling and black soot all over the leaf. You need to expose each glue coated area to the flame for about 30 seconds.

Watch that the edges don't catch on fire. This sometimes happens when you are working on the first side. When the leaf is black take out of flame. Coat the other side with glue and repeat.

Your leaf will look like this.

Do both sides of all your leaves. You can cheat and just do one side if your leaves will be arranged against a wall or something where no one will see the other side, its up to you.

Let the glue dry completely. You'll find some areas may be a little white and the glue may still be wet under the black soot. Wait until it has had a chance to set. (this is hard for me as I can't wait to wipe them off to see what they look like)

Using a tissue or paper towel gently wipe the soot off the leaf. You'll find it starting to polish up to a high gloss. Some of the black will stay, that's normal.

At this point you might want to leave them as is. I wanted some gold detail on mine. Click on picture to see detail.

Take some metallic acrylic paint, I used antique gold and I also mixed some fall colors into the gold here and there for a different look, using a dry brush and only a little bit of paint lightly paint the leaf where ever you want some color.

You can then take a paper towel and remove some of the paint so there's just a bit of metallic patina to the leaf.

Let dry.

To make your sculpture wrap the wire end around the bare branch where ever you want a leaf to be.


Looks like a cast sculpture but its only paper, glue and paint.

You can also do this technique on cardboard. Cut out a mask or animal shape, do the technique and it will look like an expensive metal sculpture.

Click on the photo to see the detail in the leaf.

One final note, if you are interested in joining the Virtual sketch date, the September image has been posted and you have until Sunday to give it a go.

See you next time



  1. I actually have some leaves made of copper that look just like this. Totally cool idea.

  2. You do absolutely wonderful crafts. Thanks for the tutorials. They're easy to follow and helpful. I like your designs a lot too.

    Austin of Sundrip

  3. I love fall leaves but we do not have them in India so I make them on my own. check them on my blog here:

    but this technique of yours is a beauty in itself..Im gonna try it out for sure, thank you so much...

  4. Just discoveredyour wonderful ideas. Thank you Kathy Kelley