Paper Bag Leaves, a tutorial

Here in the southwest desert of Arizona, we don’t really have a typical autumn.  The weather is cool, which means that it is finally in the 80s, but there are no scarves, jackets or changing leaves.  It’s the changing leaves and Autumn colors of the higher elevations that I love most.

On our trip up to Northern Az last weekend, we had meant to collect some leaves. We came home with only a few, which are pressed in my moleskine journal.  I had wanted to make some kind of Autumn decoration for the house,  so with some creative thinking, the boys and I decided to make our own leaves.

Now, you may have beautiful leaves that surround your home, but the great thing about these is that they don’t crumble, you need paint, and they involve making a mess.  The ingredients for a fun activity with the kids.

Here’s what you’ll need:
A brown paper bag
acrylic craft paints in assorted Autumn colors (yellow, orange, green, red, brown, copper, gold)
paint brushes, sponges, old toothbrush
blow dryer (optional)

1. Take one brown paper grocery bag, tear it open into one flat piece. Tear into 3-4 large pieces and crumple into a ball to give it lots of texture. Flatten out.

2. Prep paints by diluting with a bit of water

3. Slop paint all over paper.

4. Allow to dry. Use a blow dryer to speed the process (optional).

5.  Lightly sponge on metallic gold and copper paint

6. Spritz some diluted brown paint with a toothbrush to create speckles.

7.  Admire your pretty paper.

8. When paper is completely dry, cut into leaf size squares and cut out leaves (this is where the kids lose interest).  If you are lucky to have sizzix machine with leaf shapes, that would be a really easy way to make leaves. I don’t have one so I cut them all by hand. It wasn’t as hard as it may seem. I stacked several squares together and cut several leaves at the same time while watching Glee (again).

9.  Glue stems onto twine and hang your pretty garland on a window or around a door.

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39 Responses to Paper Bag Leaves, a tutorial

  1. Sister Diane says:

    Those are lovely! And what a great project to do with kids! Thanks for the how-to.

  2. anne says:

    i love it! i think i’m going to do this with my children today 🙂

  3. Jennifer says:

    I love this!!! My mom is a 1st grade teacher in the Valley and she used to make me collect leaves when I lived in cooler climates. I passed this along to her and hopefully she’ll do this with her class soon.

  4. Stacy says:

    Great project! The leaves turned out so pretty. Thank you.

  5. heather jane says:

    This is gorgeous and so it your blog.

    I was just feeling a little silly for hanging silk fall leaves above my windows. This would be a much better option! (and the girlies would like making them, too)

  6. heather jane says:

    so *is* your blog. (sorry for the type-o)

  7. Mina says:

    This is a fantastic idea, thank you, my kid and I will do this to decorate our room!

  8. Lis says:

    Oh, I just love this idea. I am from Boston but have been living in Greece for almost thirty years and so miss the autumn season with all the lovely colored leaves. Now I can have them with your delightful idea!
    Thank you so much for sharing,

  9. Jennifer Rogers says:

    Hello from a visitor in South Africa. I am a non-digital scrapbooker who occasionally trawls the blogs– lovely leaves and much-better-than-average technique run-through!
    thanks & keep safe–JR

  10. Jacqueline says:

    This is such a wonderful project! Thanks for sharing! It’s my first time here on your lovely blog and im really enjoying it herre. Have a lovely merry happy day and love to you!

  11. Viv says:

    Followed a link here from somewhere and so glad I did! What a lovely project, definitely going to have a go at this.

  12. Hi , there thanks for visiting my wee blog, and sweet comment about my art show set up.

    I love this leaf tutorial , nice and cheap , but sooo effective, fun for the kids!

    I love your inspiration board, hmmm makes me want to work on mine…

    Marisa’s course is sure getting our brains going huh?

  13. branflakes says:

    they look beautiful and real! we will be making these great leaves since we too don’t have any real fall leaves in FL.

  14. Cynthia says:

    I love these leaves! I could see them scattered across a Halloween party buffet table or the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving table! My kids and I will have to try this- thanks for sharing it!

  15. I live in the Valley and miss the changing leaves too. Love this idea! I’m thinking of driving my boys up to Prescott on Thursday since it’s a fairly short drive and they are on fall break this week! I’ll be taking my watercolor journal to paint leaves. REALLY love this idea and will have to try it out!

  16. Green Mamma says:

    Oh how I miss your blog! So glad to see another wonderful project; I totally think I might be capable of this one, lol; I’ll bookmark it for the day when I get my hands back, 🙂

  17. Rachel says:

    These are so, so pretty! Thanks so much for sharing the how-to, I’ll be linking.

  18. This is so pretty. It looks like a fun and messy time to spend with the kids. I have been into making garlands with them so we will give this one a try. Thanks

  19. Marianne says:

    Although we live in Vermont where the leaves do change and are gorgeous…this is a fabulous craft that is perfect for children. An easy way to recycle bags too!

  20. Julia says:

    Hi there- Look for a post on this craft tomorrow on Ohdeedoh at noon. Very pretty!

  21. These are wonderful! Such a creative idea!

  22. Thanks for the fabulous tutorial! I think this is a wonderful idea fall leaves in the backyard or no. Every year I mean to gather and press them, but somehow all the raking and other work that they entail often means this never happens. Love it!

  23. Crafty Mom says:

    Love this! Great idea. My 3yr old will love this! Adding it to my bookmarks for a fun weekend project! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  24. What a cute idea! And you are right that this would be a great project even in places where there are lots of fall leaves. (I am not sure I would want to bring any of the fall leaves inside around here anyways since they are soaked from our fall rains…)

  25. monica says:

    very impressive leaf shapes from what i can gather

  26. Thanks, this is perfect! Living in Hawaii it’s hard to come across a good fall project that doesn’t require gathering fall colored leaves (of which we have none!).

  27. Jenna says:

    I clicked through from Ohdeedoh…
    These are so great! Living in South Florida, we don’t have true fall either. This looks like a craft even my toddler could help with! Thanks for sharing – they’re just lovely.

  28. Deb says:

    These leaves are just beautiful! Now I know what I’m going to do with all these paper bags I’ve lovingly collected. Thank you so much!

  29. Polprav says:

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

  30. Jedda says:

    I love to feature these with a link on Friday-great idea!

  31. I love it! I was just lamenting the lack of fall color earlier this evening – how timely.

  32. Lisa Lucas says:

    What a great idea- even if we do have autumn leaves in abundance in the UK- these will stay fresh. Will also take this idea and make some table placemats that can be laminated 🙂 Thanks!

    Lisa xx

  33. Lisa says:

    I would put a fold down the middle of the leaves to give them more of a realistic look.

  34. Sandy says:

    These are so much fun! Thanks for the idea. I know how you feel since I too, live in Arizona (Marana). Today I found a leaf in my pocket that I collected last week and forgot to press. Oh well… Thanks for rescuing me and I plan to share your project with my card class. Thanks.

  35. these are fantastic! going to make some next week with my little guy and his Baba

  36. art easy says:

    Thanks for the excellent page, I love reading it!

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