February 20, 2009

how to make a leaf...

Remember that tutorial I promised? Here it is! Have you heard of the International Fiber Collaborative? Jennifer Marsh has a new project in the works - The Tree Project. Interdependence is the operative word, go read all about it and then come back here to see how I did it. And then you can do it your way or my way...

Here are step by step instructions on how to make leaves from dryer sheets (you're very surprised about the use of dryer sheets, right?):
~start with an assortment of well used dryer sheets. I liked having about five sheets per leaf, so figure out approximately how many leaves you're going to make to see how many sheets you'll need. Put the sheets on to a cookie tray or a similar basin and douse them in water. Then open up a jar of paint (textile or acrylic) and liberally dab some onto the sheets with a big brush.
~Let the paint run for a bit and then put some more paint on the sheets. (I chose green for my leaves and then added more green family colors like chartreuse and teal to add depth. You can choose any color you want for your leaves obviously, no need to stick to the green.) Douse all the sheets with water again and let then sit for an hour or more while the color seeps into all the fibers.
~Then, if you wish, add a few more dryer sheets on top, spritz with more water and let sit until the color seeps into these sheets too.
~This is what it all looked like after almost the whole day of sitting around while I went about life with small children..
~When you're satisfied with the colors, pick up the sheets with your gloved hand and kind of fluff them up in the tray before leaving them to dry overnight. This is what mine looked like the next morning, or was it the afternoon?
~Take the sheets off the tray and marvel at the lovely patterning they left behind. Take a picture for future inspiration.
~Then take a few more wet dryer sheets and use them to wipe your tray, can't waste all that paint now can you!
~And look - now you have some light green sheets as a bonus.
~Iron your sheets flat for easier sewing and you'll also be heat setting them if you used textile paint.
~Look at how pretty the color looks on the webbing of a dryer sheet...
~Now make neat sandwiches of your dryer sheets, about five sheets per sandwich and pin in the corners.
~With a light color pencil draw your leaf shape on the top sheet. Conveniently most dryer sheets are close in size to the finished size leaf (5"x7") that is needed for the project.
~Free motion stitch your leaf with the sewing machine. I chose a contrasting variegated cotton thread for some interest on top and a bright yellow cotton thread for the bobbin. And as you can see in the above picture, perfection in your stitching is not necessary, nature is perfect in her imperfections.
~Here are my leaves ready to be trimmed.
~After you trim your leaves, you can add as much additional decoration as you like - beading, embroidery, paint. I went for the acrylic paint and added some yellow swooshes on the bottom side..
~and some bronze swooshes on the top side.

~Then I forgot to take a progress photo of pushing a thin jewelry wire through the center of the leaf. It is not necessary to do that, but it adds a nice touch and allows the leaf to hold its shape. Just push the wire through like a needle following the center stitch line.
~Go outside on a sun shiny day and take picture of the leaves with the sunlight streaming through them.... oooooh... pretty! Now put them in an envelope and send them to The Tree Project before March 15th!


Kristin L said...

Fun and pretty -- and a great way to repurpose those dryer sheets for those of us who hesitate to use them in our usual artwork. :-)

Lynn Cohen said...

Thank you, I love this tutorial. I am taking notes and will try this for sure. Might even work on my latest creation. thank you.

Gerrie said...

I don't have dryer sheets, but I see that I can use any fiber so I will try to make some when I get home from my rehab in the desert.

Marlis said...

Thank you Natalya for this tutorial. Love it and will try to make some.

Susan Schrott, Artist said...

Hey Natalya!! I loved your tutorial...You did a fantastic job demonstrating and it really does look like fun...susan

Vivien Zepf said...

Great tutorial. Going to have to give this a try.