Hi and welcome!
It's the most wonderful time of year, and if you're looking for a DIY project to do with your family this holiday season, we've got just the thing.
Leaf imprint ornaments are adorable and are easy to make. You can create them using Sculpey polymer clay and either paint them afterwards or leave them in their natural color. You can also use items from around the house to embellish your leaf imprints in beautiful Christmas colors by using glitter, acrylic paint, paint pens, even eye shadow and other powdered pigments.
The fun is in deciding what kind of leaf impressions you want to make, collecting the leaves and then deciding what you will be using them for or who you will be gifting them to.
There are many ways you can use leaf impression ornaments for the holiday season. Some ideas of leaf impression décor uses include:
These easy diy leaf imprint ornaments are a fun project for all ages. The kids will have a blast making them with you, and you'll love the result when they're finished. With just two mediums to work with - polymer clay and leaves - (then any add-on decorative items such as paint or glitter) they are also super low-cost to make.
If you want something more colorful than natural hues, you can also paint these diy leaf imprint ornaments with acrylic paint or choose from Sculpey's many gorgeous colors of polymer clay. This is what is so nice about using Sculpey Polymer Clay: you can embellish it before you bake it with glitter and different powdery mediums, or you can accent them after you bake them with paints, gold leafing and more. And Sculpey has their own beautiful line of glazes to specifically use on any project with their polymer clay.
Let's get into these beautiful diy Christmas Ornaments!
If you are doing this activity with your family or with your kids, here is a special and fun way to introduce it. Head outside together or go for a nature walk and try to find some leaves that will make beautiful impressions! Find wintery greens such as holly or pine branches, or find special leaves from a tree that means something to you all.
Collect a sample of leaves and decide if you are going to make a theme of all the same kind of leaves, or if you are going to use all different leaves. The point of this activity is to have fun and make some memories while doing it.
Here is everything you will need to make leaf imprint Christmas ornaments with Sculpey polymer clay:
1. Start by choosing the color of Sculpey Soufflé you would like to work with. Again, we are using 1.7oz. of Ivory.
Sculpey has a wide range of beautiful colors to choose from, including:
2. Once you have your Sculpey Soufflé polymer clay out and ready, cut it into the individual portions. We are using a 1.7oz package of Sculpey Soufflé and it already comes with 3 dividing lines so you can easily cut it into 4 equal sections to make 4 ornaments. This makes dividing the equal portions super easy.
3. Once your clay is sectioned, you can either condition it by warming it up in your hands or you can run it through Sculpey's clay conditioning machine.
Why should you condition your polymer clay?
It is important to condition polymer clay as doing removes any air that may be trapped in it, which sometimes happens. Conditioning the clay also helps mix it together evenly and creates a slightly softer and easier texture to work with. This will be especially important as you want your clay to pick up as much detail in the leaves as possible from the imprints.
4. Once your clay is conditioned, warmed up, and is ready to go, simply press it with your hands to get your desired shape to start with. We started off our ornaments as small disks.
5. If you are wanting to integrate any glitter or anything right into the clay, you can sprinkle a little bit at a time on your surface, and just lightly press the clay into it to pick it up. The glitter will naturally distribute throughout the clay the more you work it in, so if you want a fully integrated look, keep folding your clay onto itself to work uniformly throughout. If you want a more marbled look, where sections will have glitter and other sections won't, just work it in a bit and then go right into rolling. This will create a marbled effect.
You can also achieve a more solid marbled effect by mixing another color of polymer clay in. This is totally up to you and depends on the look you are going for!
5. Next, take a rolling pin or a smooth, cylinder object to roll the dough out to create a very flat, smooth surface of clay. You will also want to roll it out on a completely clean surface, otherwise your clay will pick up whatever is on your surface and it will be impossible to get out.
6. Roll the clay to your desired thickness. We rolled ours to about a half an inch thick.
7. Decide on how you want your leaves to look. Do you want the shape of the leaves or do you want an impression on a round shape? If you want the shape of the leaf, press your leaf into the clay and with a clay cutting tool or fondant tool, cut the clay away from the leaf, leaving only that leaf shape.
If you prefer a round shape or any other shape to feature the indentation of the leaf, simply cut that out now.
8. Press your leaf into the clay shape you have created. It is best to use your fingers and you can feel how hard you are pressing to get the leaf details. Remember, try to use a uniform pressure throughout, with a slight pressure emphasis on areas where there are leaf spines or distinct lines you want to bring out in your leaf impression.
9. Remove your leaf carefully and emphasize your impression by going over any areas lightly with a toothpick to bring out the indentations. To do this naturally, lightly drag your toothpick at an angle and keep pressure consistent.
10. To highlight the details, you can use any kind of powdered colorant here before baking. One of our favorite mediums to use on Sculpey Soufflé to bring out fine details is powdered eyeshadow!
What is nice about using a powdered pigment like eyeshadow at this point is that it will really settle into the indentation lines to give a soft accent. This will draw attention to the details without being obvious, unless you are opting for that obvious look in which case, go with deeper hues like charcoal or black eyeshadow or powdered pigments.
Using shimmery eyeshadow like we are using creates a more natural look, which is nice if you are featuring natural elements such as leaves. We like to use a fine, soft artist brush to get into the lines and impressions.
*Test some eyeshadow or any powdered colorant on any clay that you cut away and have discarded. You will get a good idea of how your pigment will lay down on the clay.
11. Using your toothpick, gently poke a hole at the top of your leaf imprint ornament. This will be how you string the ornament to put it on your tree.
12. Bake your Christmas tree ornaments according to the directions on the back of your Sculpey Soufflé package on a baking sheet and allow them to cool completely before going any further.
13. Once the ornaments are cooled, you can glaze them with any of Sculpey's beautiful glazes, or you can leave them natural like we did. This is totally a matter of preference!
If you would like to see how Sculpey's Satin Glaze looks, check out where we used it in making a DIY Fairy Door for a garden.
This is also the point where you can decorate your Christmas tree ornaments with any painting details. We decided to paint the edges of our ornaments with a beautiful, metallic gold and for this, we just used an acrylic paint along the edges. This will look beautiful on a Christmas tree as the gold will reflect the lights so nicely.
You can also use a Sharpie marker or a paint pen to write anything special on the back of your ornaments: you can sign your name or write the year or where your leaf came from.
14. Hang your ornaments on your tree! To string them, use any ribbon, chain or hook. We decided to use a pretty silver chain hang our Christmas tree leaf imprint ornaments. They turned out beautifully.
Making your own Christmas tree ornaments is a fun and rewarding activity. If you have never used polymer clay before, it’s easy to work with and can be found online at Sculpey. The process for making these festive decorations is simple and is so fun to do. Once the ornaments are baked according to package directions, all you need is some paint and string for hanging them on your family's favorite tree.
We hope you found this tutorial helpful!
Here's the video of us making these ornaments to show you in some more detail.
If you have never worked with polymer clay before or you have any questions about polymer clay, we will answer your questions below.
Polymer clay is a synthetic form of clay used to to make beautiful and intricate arts and crafts. Polymer clay will not cure or harden until it has baked. Polymer clay comes from a PVC base, which is the world's third most widely used synthetic plastic polymer.
After making your polymer clay craft, the polymer clay must be baked at the proper temperature for it to cure and harden. It is a different substance than air-dry clay. Until your polymer clay has baked, it will still be pliable, allowing you a long working time that can span days or longer and many artists prefer it for this reason.
Air-dry clay is different than polymer clay in exactly that: air-dry clay cures and hardens by being exposed to the air over a period of time. Polymer clay is different than air-dry clay as it requires an oven to bake and cure it and it is soft and pliable until it is baked.
Conditioning your clay is another way of saying warm your clay up, so it becomes a bit more pliable and smooth and therefore easy to work with. You don't always need to use a conditioning machine, you can work the clay in your hands by manipulating it until it feels soft and smooth.
Sculpey Soufflé is an innovative type of polymer clay that is self-supporting and durable, making it excellent for large clay creations. Sculpey Soufflé resists cracking and has a unique ability to hold fine details, making it ideal for handmade necklaces, pendants, figurines, earrings, miniatures, bracelets, figurines and more.
We hope you found this Christmas Tree Leaf-Imprint Ornament tutorial helpful and that you absolutely love working with Sculpey polymer clay.
Be sure to check out other projects you can create with Sculpey polymer clay below from some of our other crafty projects:
Be sure to save the pin below for your Pinterest board!
Thanks, have a crafty day.
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