Making Nature Prints in Sculpey

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Nature Print Mosaic

Maia and I finally made the nature prints with sculpey dough that Write, Mama. Write! posted about recently. What a wonderful texture project for a little kid!! Maia loved every step of it (as did I). I’m sure even older kids would get a lot out of it. First we went on a nature walk around our yard and found interesting leaves and flowers and rocks which we collected in one of Maia’s bags. She had great fun with this part and picked leaves from our rosemary (top right), dusty miller (middle right), yarrow (bottom right), butterfly bush, pine needles, ivy, and lemon thyme, as well as flowers from iris danfordiae, hydrangea (dried), and grape hyacinth.

Sculpey Balls and Nature Materials

MATERIALS

Per the instructions on Write, Mama. Write! I rolled the sculpey dough into balls first (harder than I thought). Then we placed a leaf or other nature item on a flat surface, set the ball of sculpey on top, and together we pressed down on the ball. Maia didn’t seem to have the strength to press them on her own, but an older child would.

butterfly bush leaves

I was amazed at the level of detail that the sculpey captured! This is a print from butterfly bush leaves, above. Next we placed the flattened discs on a cookie sheet and baked them at a low temperature (250 degrees I think) for 45 minutes. They hardened up nicely. Once they were completely cool, Maia transfered them from baking sheet to bowls and played with them for quite a while, stacking them and moving them between bowls. They have a nice weight to them and are very satisfying to hold.

Playing with Nature Prints

By the way, thanks again to ThreeSneakyBugs for pointing the way on photo mosaics! I just love how they look. She posted a simple tutorial on her blog if anyone is interested.

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  1. molly says

    Those are beautiful! I wonder if this would work as well with that Crayola Model Magic stuff — have you used that stuff? It is very lightweight and it doesn’t need to be cooked to harden. Might be easier for little hands to press on. We’ll get some and give it a try.

  2. says

    Those turned out great! This project reminds me of our local nature station which has similar casts of animal footprints and a big sandbox where kids can make different prints in the sand. I’ll look forward to trying this with my kids soon. We have been collecting leaves for collages so this would be a nice extension of that.

  3. says

    How wonderful! I love that dusty miller print… Your mail is going out tomorrow by the way (so sorry for the delay on a promise!).
    I just discovered our local craft store has about 20 additional colors of Sculpey in small packages (for around a dollar). I loved the white for this project, but my mind is turning for a mobile with a similar effect and new colors!

  4. threesneakybugs says

    They turned out great! I adore the dusty miller – makes me think of seaweed. I can’t wait to try this with Seth. Of course, we woke up to below zero temps so we won’t be taking any nature hikes for bit yet.
    BTW – nice mosaic! ;-)

  5. says

    Model magic is really too soft and marshmallowy – it breaks easily.
    HOWEVER a related activity for kids is to use your impressions as stamps for printmaking. You can make the impressions as stated then use them either as stamps themselves or press them into a second ball of sculpty and get a positive and a negative impression. This works best if you get the sculpty that is soft after being baked – its sold to make “erasers” but I use it to make stamps all the time.

  6. says

    I like the idea of using them for printmaking! We may have to make another set out of the “eraser” sculpey sometime…
    Or trying sculpey in different colors. I’m in love with sculpey now.

  7. sarahwg says

    Oh! I want to do this. I have no idea what sculpey is and if I can even find it here. Off to do some internet research! I love how they turned out. Beautiful!

  8. says

    These are absolutely great! Now I know what possibly to do with the nature bits I plan on the girls collecting this spring!
    The only thing is that I’m not sure about is if it’s truly safe. I understand it’s made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) suspended in a plasticizer especially since you heat it up. I’d rather stay as far away from PVC if at all possible.
    If there is a PVC free alternative to sculpey, I’m all for it.

  9. says

    I love this idea also! Of course I right way think of science and matching activities for the Montessori classroom, how beautiful it would be! I can’t wait to make these for my classroom. Thank you for the inspiration as always!
    In PEACE
    Jennifer
    aka Montessori Mama

  10. says

    Those came out great! I think I’ll keep the idea for when we have more plants growing this summer or fall.
    I have used both sculpey and model magic for different things and both are great but very different. I think sculpey would make better prints for this but I love model magic for making children’s hand and foot prints. We got perfect ones of the kids and the dog!

  11. says

    I can picture my girls — also 2 — stacking and sorting these! Thanks so much for this idea. And, all the others. It’s so great to see you writing about these great ideas.
    I know a bunch of moms who wouldn’t dare stay home with their toddler all morning … and yet there are so many cool things we can do with them right in our own houses!

  12. dianne says

    my mom, my 2 1/2 year old son and i did these. it was great – we all loved it. the sculpey is more difficult to knead than i thought it would be. my son has been carrying around his favorite for days and he too enjoyed stacking and sorting and just playing with them!
    great project! i can’t wait to do more.

  13. molly says

    By the way, we tried this with the model magic and it didn’t work out very well at all — certainly not like the beautiful results you got! Have to get some sculpey next time we are out.

  14. mimi says

    what about using salt dough? have you tried to do use it?
    thanks for your wonderful blog
    mimi

  15. says

    Ha! You know, the sculpey is white, but I took the pictures at night with poor lighting–I think that’s why they look “earth-toned.” However, if you wanted to try for an earth tone, you could probably mix some white sculpey with a little bit of the terra-cotta colored sculpey. -Jean

  16. says

    [...] could create and use it as decoration for our home. My favorite that we havent done yet is Sculpey impressions. I dream about these impressions. For real. I really do. Im not sure if the kids want to [...]

  17. tinasquirrel says

    I just love these! Already sending the link to my son’s Montessori teacher! I can’t wait to explore your blog further. Thank you for the wonderful idea! I’m adding it to my list of summer art projects for my boys.

  18. says

    This are great! We’d love to link to this post in a round up of Earth Day projects. I hope that will be okay. Please let us know if you’d prefer we did not. Thanks!