Fall always makes me want to collect leaves, nuts and other reminders of the abundance of growth that is quickly disappearing from the landscape. Winter will be here before we know it and I want to capture a little piece of the grandeur of summer and fall before they are gone. My method this year? Canvas wall art.
I tried a multitude of techniques to create these fern canvases, and had a huge number of failures, including a paraffin wax debacle, but the solution ended up being the simplest method. (Isn’t that usually the case?) I let the leaves and the beauty of the canvas shine and ended up with a product I was finally happy with! Today I am going to share two processes that worked out well for me — spore prints and pressed ferns.
Supplies to make your own fern canvas wall art:
- Blank Canvas (I used 16×20)
- Various Leaves
- Gel Adhesive or Spray Adhesive
- Finishing Matte Spray
- Various Hardback Books
My original project was to utilize the spores on the back of the ferns to create prints on the canvas. The technique worked, but I ran out of enough ferns to complete my original idea. If you have ferns available, check the underside for dark little dots. Those dots are spores that will fall to the ground and create new ferns. For your purposes, they can create art! It is very important to handle the ferns carefully and not shake them. Certainly do NOT wash them! Simply place them on the canvas, and if any dirt (not spores) fall on the canvas, lightly place your hand over the fern and blow the debris away.
Once the surface is clean and your leaves are arranged, place books with a plastic or leather coating on top of the fern to weight it down. Books with paper covers might cause sticking when you pull them up, so stick to plastic! The ferns will drop their pollen in 24-36 hours, so once you place the books on them, leave them alone and let them do their thing! If you lift the books/ferns too early, the print will smudge and you will not get the desired effect.
Spray very gently with finishing matte spray to keep the prints from rubbing.
Project 2 — Pressed Ferns:My method was the same for the first step, but I attached the leaves directly to the canvas once they were pressed. Use a spray adhesive (or hairspray!) directly on the canvas, lay the pressed leaf on top and then immediately spray more adhesive to coat the leaf entirely. Once the leaves have dried, spray with a finishing spray to protect the finish. I added in a few ferny-leaved Japanese Maple stems to add interest and variety to the canvases at this point because they were looking a little bare.
Once the canvases are completely dry, hang and enjoy your little piece of nature indoors!
1. Don’t underestimate the amount of canvases you need. I need three more to fill this space!
2. Make sure you have enough foliage. I originally planned on doing spore prints on all the canvases, but ran out of ferns!
3. Don’t lift the books too soon! Allow a good 24+ hours for the leaves to press flat.
4. Don’t lift the books too late! If the leaves get too dry, they will be too brittle and will break when you try to spray them.
5. Hairspray works too! Use hairspray as a base and cover coat to save a few pennies!
6. Press the leaves indoors and feel free to spray outdoors, but NOT on a windy day! The leaves will go EVERYWHERE!
Now get out there and start collecting your own little piece of nature!
More Project Ideas
Hey y’all! I’m Amy Renea, a freelance photographer and writer based out of Hershey, PA. I spend my days chasing children and chickens around the back yard, sipping on dandelion tea and munching on sweet potato chips. Come visit the Nest for All Seasons to learn more about my food, photography, DIY designs and modern garden living! www.anestforallseasons.com