Monday, October 24, 2016

Autumn Leaf Sculptures

Hello, Dear Friends, I hope you are enjoying these 
beautiful Autumn days. 

Thank you so much for your sweet visits! 

Today I would like to share with you a craft 
that I previously posted way back in 2011
when I first started blogging - Leaf Sculptures. 

I have enjoyed these leaf sculptures every year since, 
as you can see by these photographs that I took this morning :)

I thought these were worth sharing once again......

Imitate Nature by crafting decorative leaf sculptures.

This is an idea from a vintage Martha Stewart Living Magazine. I love that magazine and have had a subscription since the very first issue. I have always wanted to make these, but they looked difficult. I am happy to say, they are very easy. I would not recommend this craft for young children, as there is oven baking and sharp craft knives involved, but older children might enjoy it with parental supervision.

Go outside and select a variety of sturdy leaves with prominent ribbing on the undersides.

Roll out a piece of craft clay (the kind that can be baked in the oven - I used 'Sculpey'. One 794g - 1.75 lb box.) Roll clay approx. 1/4 inch thick. Protect your surface and rolling pin with waxed or parchment paper. Place a leaf on the clay, cover it with waxed paper, and roll evenly until the leaf makes a clear impression in the clay.

Remove waxed paper. With a craft knife, carefully cut the clay along the outline of the leaf. Allow extra width around thin stems.

Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Roll a piece of aluminum foil into a tight tube. Curl the tube into a loose ring or horse shoe shape. This serves as a support for the leaf as it bakes, giving it a more natural, undulating shape.

Bake the clay according to manufacturer's instructions. (Approx. 15 min.)

Once completely cooled, you can paint the leaves, giving them beautiful Autumn hues. The directions in the magazine called for water-based transparent lacquer, but I couldn't find that in my craft store. So I used acrylic water-based craft paint, the kind that comes in the small bottles. They come in many different colors. I chose subtle Autumn colors of True Ochre (gold), Burnt Sienna (reddish), Golden Brown, and Timberline Green ( a soft mossy green).

I watered down the paint, approx. 50-50 for the first coat. I brushed on the gold as an undercoat on all the leaves. Don't forget the undersides and the edges. I used the foil covered baking pans and rolled tubes to set the painted leaves upon.

Once I was finished with the base coat, I let that dry about 30 minutes and then I mixed the rest of the colors with water, but used a little more paint this time in the ratio. A little goes a long way, so only use one good squirt of paint at a time, about the size of a quarter and a tiny amount of water.

I then added color from the edges inward. I used the darker Burnt Sienna around all of the edges. I used the Golden Brown to fill in the middle. The watered down paint will softly fill in the lines and creases, giving it a 'true to nature' look. I used the Timberline Green on one small leaf.

When the leaves were thoroughly dry, (I left them to dry overnight), I gave them a final coat of Acrylic Matt Varnish. (Not Glossy) This is also water based, but don't water it down. You can find this where the craft paint is sold. It seals the leaves and allows you to gently wipe them down with water to clean them. (Do not submerge in water)

When you are done, you will have beautiful leaf sculptures to display on your mantel or table. The larger leaves can be used for serving nuts, candy or crackers.

I hope you try making these easy Leaf Sculptures 
some rainy Autumn day! 


Today I am linking with:

Won't you join the fun? 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Woodland Walk-about

Hello, Dear Friends, we are in between rainshowers,
here in the Pacific Northwest, so come along
with me as we venture out for a lovely woodland
walk-about while we have the chance. 

We'll keep our eyes open for some 
wildling sightings along the way.....

We begin by walking through one of two gates
that Ramblin' Man just built and replaced over the summer <3

Here is one before I stained it 'ebony'.

The old gates are now in my stash of garden 
recyclables - those wonderful 
things with years of patina that you just can't part with :)

Perhaps hung on a wall with a beautiful wreath someday.........

The first wildling we see is the Dark-eyed Junco
bathing in the bird-bath under the pear tree. 

These little birds travel in large flocks this time of year, 
often with several other species. This is a male
and he was with several others, including 
some sparrows, chickadees, and nuthatches. 
They are all year-round residents. 

The lawn is littered with leaves from my beautiful 
Russian Ash trees, which are now quite bare. 

They are the first to show color here. 

This is what they looked like before the wind
carried the leaves away. 

I gather several leaves in my little basket
that I take on woodland walks.
I am always on the look-out for pretty leaves and feathers.

Dappled sunlight shines through Big-leaf Maple 
as we enter the forest. 

The smaller Vine Maple glows.

When exposed to bright sunlight, as here
along the edge of a forest clearing,
the leaves take on a brighter hue. 

The second wildling we see is the ever-present 
Douglas squirrel. 
These little squirrels are just a bit larger than 
a chipmunk. We also have gray squirrels, 
but this year they have been scarce. 

I suspect predation, as they spend much more time
on the ground than the tiny and fast Douglas squirrels. 

Or perhaps they have been poisoned! Someone 
has been nibbling on this Amanita mushroom. 

Another smaller mushroom pokes through the dry leaves.

A ground beetle sits on a rock in an abandoned
entrance to a small burrow.

These are little predators that eat other bugs
and seem to be very numerous here.

A beautiful Spotted Towhee is the third wildling we spy.

These beautiful little birds have bright red eyes
 and spotted wings and sides.

A much clearer photo from my guide book.

They are slightly smaller than an American Robin
and nest in thick brush on the ground.
These are also year-round residents.

The ground is littered with Black Cottonwood leaves
as we reach the driveway gate.

Whitey Bear and Kai give each other acknowledging looks.
I've watched them do this and then take off running
 together towards something unheard or unseen
by my mere human senses.

A wild plum sapling shows beautiful deep colors
next to a wild hazelnut, still green, that will show
color later in the season.
A yellow willow hangs over all.

I am always amazed at the diversity of plants
and trees growing here, and continue to find
something new with each stroll.

An ivy climbs a Black Cottonwood
outside the gate, the result of a long
forgotten planter. The deer seem to like
this particular ivy and the leaves are always
nibbled as high as they can reach.

The neighbor's field across the road.

I don't venture past the gate when I am alone.
My own 5 acres are completely enclosed with
5 foot high, heavy wire fencing,
 which can't be climbed.

It is hunting season.

My perimeter fence was installed by my youngest
son, Dustin, in his last years of high school.

It was his precious, parting gift to me.

He knew that once he left home, I would be alone
frequently while Ramblin' Man was traveling for work.

We had hunters come too close to the house, one too many times.

Can you see the deer? This is the fourth wildling we see.
(Look to the left of the tree)
We have Black Tail Deer here,
which are quite numerous.

The ground is a tapestry this time of year.

The hills are also a tapestry of color.

Black Cottonwood, Maple and Alder stand out
against the deep greens of Douglas Fir.

This is a forest planted for timber harvesting,
 here in Washington State.

It's starting to rain, so we hurry back home
before we get too wet.

A sweet Wood-thrush, the 5th wildling we see,
sits on the fence surrounding the property.

This unassuming little bird has the most
beautiful song.

We approach the main gate to the house.....

These gates always stay shut unless we are outside.

Whitey Bear and Kai stay inside the lower
fenced area surrounding the house, with
free access through their pet-door during the day.

This is our little sanctuary from the wild, wild world.

Some feathers I found on my walks.

From left, a Spotted Towhee feather,
a Mourning Dove, and two Hawk feathers.

I add them to my collection inside my silver baby cup :)

The leaves I gathered are spread out to dry
before adding to my leather bound scrapbook for pressing.

I found this beautiful vintage scrapbook
on a visit to New Hampshire a few years ago.

It makes a perfect 'press' for autumn leaves
which I will use to decorate my Thanksgiving table.

It looks lovely on my table in the living room.

Thank you for coming along on my woodland walk-about,
Dear Friends!

I hope you have a chance to get outside
to enjoy these glorious days of fall, too!


Today I am linking with:

Good Fences
Five on Friday
Saturday's Critters

Won't you join the fun?

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