Science & Art: Leaf Impressions

Science and Art

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From left to right: Sycamore, Glossy Privet, Glossy Privet, Oak, Oak, Glossy Privet, Birch, Birch, Willow, Sycamore

My family takes knowledge to a rather competitive level.  When we discover something new, it is as if we have found a treasure chest full of wild gems.

Camping is always a wonderful place to utilize these gems.  What type of tree is that?  I know!  What types of flowers are these?  I know!  What type of bird is that, and is it naturally indeginous to the area?  I know that too!

Incorporating art into science is a wonderful way of getting a hands on approach to both the creative spirit as well as the hands on field scientist experience.

For this project, I highly encourage you to incorporate identifying trees by their leaves and bark while you are doing leaf impressions.  We have been doing plant identifications this season, and it certainly makes driving through the neighborhoods more interesting!  The plants and flowers are no longer landscaping flora, but instead rows of Society Garlic flowers, or “wild orchid peacock flowers.”  It is so exciting to  have names for these plants, finally!

A few good resources for tree identification can be found here:

Urban Tree Key

Discover Life

So go through your neighborhood, or find a nature trail to explore, and pick up as many different types of leaves you can find.

Once you have a good stash, you can go home and start on your art project: Leaf Impressions!

Materials – 

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Cup Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 3/4 – 1 Cup Water
  • leaves
  • Modge Podge
  • Cookie sheet and parchment paper

Directions –

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1)  Mix the flour, salt, oil and water until a good smooth consistency.

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2) Roll a small ball in your hands (about 1-2 inches in diameter)

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3)  Place on the parchment paper in the cookie sheet…and first, spray your hands with PAM.  You’ll thank me later...

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and press down with the palm of your hand until it is rather flat.  Then use the rolling pin to flatten it out until it is about as thin as a sugar cookie. (caveat: do not make shapes too thick or they will crack with baking)

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4)  Now, take a leaf and place it in the middle of the dough, and evenly press it into the dough so the leaf makes an impression.

You can lightly roll the leaf with the rolling pin if that works better for you.

5) Then, bake in a 250 degree oven for about 1 hour (I found an extra 15 minutes helped,but every oven is different)

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6)  Remove the sheet from the oven and let the disks cool completely.  Once they have, you can gently paint the leaf and disk with modge podge to seal inthe beautiful colors!

Bonus: you can get a permanent marker and write the name of the tree from which the leaf came at the bottom of the disk!

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