Clay Leaf Prints and Pendants

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How to make clay leaf prints and pendants with air dry clay. This easy nature craft project is fun for kids and creates a beautiful finished product.

We love making leaf prints, whether on fabric, paper, clay, or even plaster of paris. The process is so satisfying and the results capture the natural beauty of leaves.

We started making clay leaf prints using air dry clay recently after seeing the idea in Cathy James’ new book, The Garden Classroom. The process is much the same as the nature prints in sculpey we used to make quite a bit, but the material is more kid-friendly and easier to work with.

Here’s how we made these beautiful prints…

First, I’ll show you a video tutorial, then I’ll give you the step-by-step instructions.

Air Dry Clay for clay leaf prints

Clay Leaf Prints and Pendants

This post contains affiliate links.MATERIALS

  • Small leaves and ferns
  • Air dry clay*
  • Wax paper, parchment paper, or a plastic placemat/tray
  • Drinking straws
  • String or elastic thread
  • Watercolor paint (optional)
  • Beads (optional)

*A note about the clay: We used Crayola air dry clay and thought it worked well for this project. We’ve tried Sculpt-It air dry clay before as well and it worked okay, but not as well. Homemade air dry clay would be worth a try as well. As would regular potter’s clay.

Making Clay Leaf Prints with Air Dry Clay

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Lay a small leaf on the wax paper, vein side up.

2. Pinch off a small piece of air dry clay (maybe a tablespoon or two) and roll into a ball between your hands.

3. Set the clay ball on the leaf, then press down with the palm of your hand to flatten it.

Making Clay Leaf Prints with Air Dry Clay

4. Carefully lift the clay disk, turn it over, and peel away the leaf.

Add a hole at the top of your clay leaf print with a straw

5. (Optional) If you’d like to hang your leaf print, poke a hole at the top of your disk with a drinking straw.

Making Clay Leaf Prints with Air Dry Clay

6. Repeat process with additional leaves and clay balls.

Making Clay Leaf Prints with Air Dry Clay

7. Let dry thoroughly. This may take two to three days.

Decorate Your Clay Leaf Prints

Painting Clay Leaf Prints with Watercolors

8. If desired, paint the clay leaf print with watercolors. Here’ are Maia’s leaf prints above.

Painted Clay Leaf Prints

And mine.

Daphne's Clay Leaf Prints

And Daphne’s. All quite different.

Color clay leaf prints with colored pencil

You can also decorate them with colored pencils.

Make Ornaments and Pendants with the Clay Prints

Add cord to clay leaf prints to make pendants and ornaments

9. Thread string through the hole and tie to form a loop for ornaments or a pendant. Add beads if desired. You can also string several clay disks together into a garland.

Make clay leaf print ornaments

Wouldn’t these make nice gifts?

Clay Leaf Print Pendants with Beaded Cord

Maia made these two pendants for friends. And Daphne gifted one of hers as well.

Clay Leaf Print Ornaments

I made a series of ornaments.

Note: If you make your leaf prints without holes, they can be decorations, part of a seasonal nature table, given as gifts, or used for pretend play (ours were used as pretend cookies quite a bit for a while).

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clay leaf prints

 

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Ana
    June 18, 2015 at 7:59 am

    These are beautiful! I love how the paint accentuates the lovely prints!

  • Reply
    Sacha kelly
    June 18, 2015 at 8:53 am

    These are just beautiful I can’t wait to try them with my kids and I just love the video clio so useful I only wish adult craft sites would incorporate this too
    thanks for the gorgeous ideas keep them coming
    Sacha

    • Reply
      Jean Van't Hul
      June 18, 2015 at 9:10 am

      So glad you like it, Sacha! And thanks for your lovely comment! The video thing is new for me, so I’m glad you find it useful.

  • Reply
    Laura Sims
    June 25, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Would it be possible to paint them before the clay completely dries? I’d love to do this during my weekly storytime, but would need to paint them before the kids took them home that day.

  • Reply
    Rachel
    July 1, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    My 7 year old daughter and 5 year old son loved this activity today. Thank you so much for the idea! We made a morning out of it – first hiked around the neighborhood to find interesting leaves, then explored the clay (which was also new for us) and finally created 32 clay prints in varying patterns. The kids were so interested and excited about seeing the prints and it kept their attention for 45 minutes! I loved sitting with them to create together and we are looking forward to adding color in a few days when they are fully dry. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Reply
    keira
    July 13, 2015 at 12:22 am

    These are lovely! They would be a great project to add to our Little Loft Nature Girl camp. I like the addition of the watercolor. We just used this process to make porcelain vases. I bet mini air dry vases would be fun too!

  • Reply
    Andrea Hinds
    December 31, 2018 at 2:49 pm

    After it is dry is there a way to get the print inverse for a stamp?

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