How do I create something artsy for my walls?
November 13, 2008 11:08 AM   Subscribe

DIY art/craft help with the gingko tree/leaf as inspiration.

I just moved into a new house on a street lined with gingko trees and I'm completely infatuated with the pretty yellow fan-shaped leaves, and the overall look of the trees. Last night I was walking home down the street and the sky was almost turquoise and the yellow leaves looked gorgeous against the turquoise sky. I also like the texture of the leaves - they're soft not dry and brittle and I think they look pretty wet.

My new house also has a lot of bare walls that need decoration, so I am trying to think of ways that i could take the gingko tree or the gingko leaf shape and make some sort of art that I could hang on my wall. I don't think I want to stencil. I have very little artistic ability, but I could follow basic instructions and am willing to play around. I'd be interested in all kinds of suggestions for something I can create using the gingko leaf, tree(s), tree & sky as inspiration. I'd have to be able to do this using fedex kinkos or arts and craft store. I have a decent point and shoot camera. Could be big, small, multiple components, different kinds of materials.

To set the scene, our house is currently decorated with photos of our travels, a few professional photos of our loved ones (caught in a moment type shots), some fine art type paintings, some asian/african art, some antique cork screws, an indian quilt with mirrors in it, some batiks from our travels, candles and plants everywhere, etc. Basically a hodgepodge but nothing is very modern-looking (I like, he hates). I like my decorations to be visually interesting but also meaningful to me (hence, well, everything we have on our walls). I don't like much that's super craftsy though - I don't like the idea of stenciling or doing needlework, for example. We have two rooms with almost no decorations, because we moved from a much smaller apartment.

posted by Amizu to Media & Arts (7 answers total)
Are you amenable to watercolors and tracing? It's really easy to make your own botanical watercolor pencil sketches with just a cheap watercolor set and some art paper.

First, go out and select a few leaves to serve as your subjects. The less than perfect ones are the most interesting, look for brown spots or green edges. Trace the leaf and pencil in some of the details roughly. Next, mix up your watercolors and color up your leaf sketch, full artistic license allowed. At this point, you might have soaked up most of your detail pencilings, so go back and fill them in again, this time with a little more detail, especially the fan-like vein pattern of the leaves. Label with a nice scientific 'Gingo biloba', frame, hang and you're done.

Obviously, to fill up a larger area you can paint lots of leaves. Alternatively, you can photograph a favorite leaf, blow it up, and print it out in order to make a larger stencil.

All in all, it usually takes about 10 minutes per leaf with practice.
posted by Alison at 11:30 AM on November 13, 2008

When you said you didn't want to stencil, did you mean any kind of stenciling action was out?

A very easy craft to complete would be to get a variety of colors in spray paint (maybe greens, gold, silver, brown, etc) and use the leaves as stencils on a piece of cardstock (or whatever you want to hang on the wall; could be wood, some kind of fabric, or an alternative type of paper). Arrange the leaves on your surface, spray one layer (I'd start with the darker colors and go lighter, but some alternating might be in order), let dry. Remove the leaves, scatter another batch, evenly or randomly, choose another color, spray, repeat.

It would be easy to play around with this, find color combos you like, add in things other than just the leaves (other leaves? branches? a printed poem? copies of favorite photos?), try different bases, etc.

Man, this sounds like fun...I wish I had a ginkgo tree...
posted by eralclare at 11:46 AM on November 13, 2008

Maybe something like this?
posted by moosedogtoo at 11:47 AM on November 13, 2008

I did a google search for ginkgo wallpaper and got some interesting hits, including this one with a bunch of pillows and wall hangings.
posted by amtho at 1:16 PM on November 13, 2008

You could use the gingko leaves to make prints - pick up some Speedball waterbased ink and a brayer, maybe some interesting Asian papers (you can find these at Michaels, no need to find an exotic art supply store). Roll out ink until it's tacky on a flat surface (formica kitchen counter will work), then roll ink on leaves and use them to make prints on your paper.

If the leaves are well dried you could also collage actual leaves onto your paper.
posted by leslies at 4:19 PM on November 13, 2008

If you have access to clay and a firing oven, or even Sculpey and a regular oven, you can make attractive and rather interesting dishes for soap, jewelry, keys or other small objects. Just find a pretty leaf, press into the surface of the clay, cut around it to make the lead shape, glaze as desired, and place small balls of clay underneath to add structural integrity.

I made several of these in a high school ceramics class, and notice that they've had more life in my parents' house than the rest of the things I made.
posted by charmcityblues at 5:15 PM on November 13, 2008

Really all best answers - thanks everyone!

(And I suppose I should have learned to spell ginkgo first....)
posted by Amizu at 7:42 AM on November 17, 2008

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