I absolutely love the fall. The gorgeous colors of the leaves and the changing of the seasons is fun to duplicate in crafts with my kids. This salt dough leaf bowl yields a beautiful result, but it was done by preschoolers. Can you believe it? We had a lot of fun creating these together. I was inspired to do this idea after watching the Google+ Hangout hosted by Red Ted Art. She had done leaf bowls with actual clay, firing it in a kiln. Well, I don’t own a kiln. She also suggested using quick dry clay. Having worked with salt dough when making my fall salt dough ornaments, I immediately knew I wanted to try a salt dough version. If you need a great recipe, here is my salt dough recipe. Doing salt dough ornaments with my own mom around Christmas time while I was growing up is a favorite memory.
The first thing we did was go on a nature walk to collect leaves. We found some beautiful ones perfect for this activity. If all of the leaves have fallen, don’t fret. You can buy fake leaves at a craft store. I actually think they might work better with the thickness of their plastic veins. You make get more of an imprint in your salt dough.
Next, mix up your salt dough. Your kids can easily help with this. Click back to find my salt dough recipe.
Once the dough is made, it is time to roll it out. A great tip for rolling out dough is using 1/4 inch cake dowels as a guide to get an even thickness. You can see Kenzie slipped off the dowels in the picture above, but you just need to get them back on the track, and they will have an even thickness for the bowls. I use this idea when rolling out my fondant too. We rolled out our dough to 1/4 inch thickness. I wouldn’t go any thinner. They are fragile as is, so you could go a bit thicker. However, I do like the fragile end look of ours.
The next step is to lay your leaf on the dough. I had the kids gently rubbing over the veins to make an impression in the dough.
Then, I did one light roll over the leaf with the rolling pin.
The next step is to cut around the leaf. I used a sharp knife and helped during this part. I guided their hand with the knife around the outline of the leaf.
The leaf can then be pulled away to reveal the leaf imprint and shape underneath.
Spray an oven safe bowl with cooking spray. When I say oven safe, you will want to look for something like a glass Pyrex bowl. I used both a Pyrex and another glass mixing bowl I have.
Carefully lift your leaf and lay it over the bowl.
Corban was able to help make his own leaf as well.
We placed both of the leaf bowls in a 250 degree oven for 2 hours.
I pulled them out of the oven and let them cool on the glass bowl for about 15 minutes. Then, I gently lifted them off the bowl and set them on a cooking rack to cool completely.
Once cool, we picked out four fall colors and put them in Dixie cups.
I added a little bit of water to each to thin out the paint.
Then the kids went to work dipping their sponge brushes in the paint and mixing the fall colors however they liked.
They will want to do a layer of paint on the inside of the bowl.
Then, they can flip it over and paint the back. These bowls are fragile, so make sure they are not pressing firmly against the leaf bowl.
Once the paint was dried completely, we added a coat of Mod Podge. I did a matte finish because it is what I had. I think a nice gloss finish would be better to give more of a glazed effect. You could also look into options for making it more protected with some sort of shellac finish. I’ve never worked with that before, so I’m not sure if it would work or not.
I love the results. Beautiful. I could see this as a decorative piece on a book shelf. it would make a great gift for a teacher or grandparent. I imagine walnuts sitting on them with a nutcracker close by. That reminds me of my own grandpa.