Some of my fondest memories have included taking walks through the woods or along paths surrounding the waterways of Minnesota. My family has all developed a passion for nature and each show it off in different ways. My mom is an artist and has a great appreciation for the beauty that surrounds us, from the the very large scale landscapes to the tiny details on a branch or plant. She has found a great little hole in the base of a tree in the park nearby that she calls a troll house. She has talked about making a door for it and leaving a little spirit doll behind for children to stumble upon as they are out exploring nature with their families! My dad is completely in his element when he is surrounded by the great outdoors. He is especially passionate about the north woods. My daughter and I recently spent 5 days with him up in Northern Minnesota. It was so fun to listen to my dad talk about all the plants, trees, and signs of wildlife that are all around as we walked his land looking for new signs of life.
It is my hope that my daughter is able to find her own path to appreciating the world and nature around us. Right now, she just loves to run and skip down a path and collect any nature treasures she can along the way. We recently took a walk through Big Willow Park looking for different textures and patterns that we could then imprint on clay at home. It was fun to watch her with her backpack and two grocery bags (she clearly thought we were bringing a ton of stuff home) getting excited about her new finds. We spent a lot of time looking through all the clovers, hoping to find that lucky 4-leaf clover. We never did find one, but we were lucky to have such a beautiful day and fun little conversations together.
I encourage you this summer to take advantage of the longer days and venture out on some hikes looking at all the wonders of the world that surround us.
We created a nature imprint wall hanging that will remind of us our fun day and allow us to bring a little Minnesota beauty back to Arizona with us. Follow along to see how we created it!
- leaves, rocks, pinecones, acorns, shells, and twigs from your local area
- Clay – I used Air Dry Clay from Michael’s
- Rolling pin or glass bottle for rolling
- Watercolor paint
- Collect various items from your outing that will lend different shapes and textures. We were able to find various leaves, a tiny acorn, 3-leaf clovers, flowers, a small pinecone, pine needles, and a feather. For an added bonus lesson for kids, teach them about the types of plants and trees these items came from.
- Roll out your clay to about 1/4 to 1/2″ thickness. Place individual items on clay and press them into clay to create an impression. We did find that thicker, more sturdy leaves and flowers worked much better at creating an impression.
- In addition to individual imprints, try using some items to create patterns. My daughter created a stamping effect using a very tiny acorn.
- Cut impressions out. I used the rims of drinking glasses to create a round shape.
- Allow clay to dry for 24 to 48 hours.
- If desired, add paint to help the impressions or patterns stand out. We used watercolors and played around with wiping it off some of the surfaces to see how it stuck into the grooves from the leaves. My favorite is the imprint from the fern!
- Using a sharp point, poke a hole in each piece of clay for hanging. This may be easier while the clay is still wet. Spray with a protective varnish.
- Tie each clay imprint with string to the branch of choice. Hang on the wall and enjoy!