When Life Gives You Lemons, MAKE ART!

We’ve had a lot of severe weather in Southeast Alabama over the last few weeks. In the latest round of storms, my neighborhood took a big hit. While we were very lucky, we did still have a big tree come down in our backyard. It sounded like a bus being dropped when it hit. Severe weather at night is especially terrifying!

As my husband cut the fallen beauty into more manageable pieces to move, I started to pick up the smaller bits of debris. I was struck by how alive and vibrant these leaves still looked, almost as if they were so shocked by the experience that they were frozen in time. Seeing big beautiful trees perish before their time always fills me with sadness and a desire to preserve a record of their existence. Then, inspiration struck! I had the pleasure of “attending” a virtual conference recently and one of the sessions presented an easy frottage project. Frottage is the technique of creating a design by rubbing (as with a pencil) over an object placed underneath the paper. This type of frottage is simply called leaf rubbing. 

I gathered some interesting leaves and experimented to determine what leaves left the best impression. I LOVE magnolia leaves, but they were far too rigid to work well. I am not an arborist, so I have no idea what type of tree I ended up preferring, but they were pliable and thin and had enough veining to create some interesting details on the rubbings. I worked outside since our power was out from the storm. My “coworker” was happy to sit with me. It was a beautiful, though breezy, day, so to secure my papers, I just used a clipboard. In the conference session, our speaker used pencils, pastels, and crayons to create, but she found that crayons worked best, so that’s what I went with. I was very pleased with the results! It was a nice relaxing way to deal with an otherwise stressful situation. I hope you find this activity as enjoyable as I did!

How to Make a Leaf Rubbing

Materials needed:

Paper (I used copy paper, but any thin paper will do)

Crayons (peel the paper label off the crayons)

Leaves, flowers, plants (try to find those that are already on the ground)

Hard surface to work on

Painters or masking tape, binder clips, or clipboard to secure your paper

Step One: Gather leaves! Look for interesting shapes and details. Make sure they are thin and not too stiff.

Step Two: Arrange the leaves on a piece of paper (on your hard surface or clipboard). Think about balance and create interesting patterns.

Step Three: Place another sheet of paper over your leaves and secure it in place, either with masking tape, binder clips or the clipboard.

Step Four: Rub the crayon on its side over the top piece of paper, concentrating on the areas with leaves. You may need to rub in different directions to capture all the details of the leaves.

Step Five: (Optional) Go in with different colors to create interesting shading and dimensions! 

Step Six: Enjoy what you’ve created…and make another! 

Easy, right? Make sure you save your leaves from this project as you might find a use for them with our Free For All Friday Challenge this week on Facebook. If you’re not following us on social media, you’re missing out! 

Youth Art Education Policy

Outside of tours, family days, and open house events, individuals who are not enrolled in a class are not allowed in WMA classrooms except by written permission of the Executive Director. Parents may not join children in the classroom during instruction times in order to ensure an atmosphere conductive to creativity. It is important to limit the number of adults to keep the focus on the kids, their learning, and to accommodate limited seating in the studio. Parents are welcome to stay in the museum during class but must remain outside of the classroom during instruction time.

Museum educators are experienced in creating positive learning environments for all ages and are required to go through a background check to ensure the safety of our students. Parents and guardians are encouraged to visit the studio at the end of class to see what their child has created. All docents and volunteers working with children are also required to go through background checks.

Thank you for understanding our policy and priority on the safety and well-being of participating students.

Refund Policy

The Wiregrass Museum of Art may cancel any class with insufficient enrollment; students will be notified and given a full refund. If a student withdraws at least 1 week before the class begins, he/she will be refunded for the full cost of the class. If a student withdraws 24 hours before the class begins, he/she will be refunded for half the cost of the class. There are no refunds after the start date of class, and membership fees are nonrefundable. Students are not enrolled until complete payment is received.

Terms and Conditions

The Wiregrass Museum of Art reserves the right to photograph and reproduce chosen works publication, publicity, and educational purposes. Participation in this exhibition shall be an agreement on the part of the artist to these conditions. The museum reserves the right to exclude works submitted without appropriate preparation (documentation, mounting hardware, suitable frame/mat, etc.), or which are damaged or incomplete. The museum is not responsible for the safekeeping of any works left in its care ninety (90) days after the close of the exhibition.