How do I add coloured leaves -naturally

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Forum topic by TJ65 posted 05-04-2010 07:35 AM 1473 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1378 posts in 3076 days

05-04-2010 07:35 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I am in a bit af a quandary, I found a small burl piece of Eucalyptus that I have sliced & inlayed into a lid for a box. The thing is it looks a little too plain, so I was thinking of putting a stencil type of thing of gum leaves scattered over the box to give it depth and more meaning. The thing is I dont know how to go about it. I dont want to use any paint .

I want to leave the wood a natural colour (dont ask what the wood is, I am no good at wood ID) The lid is a lightish colour and the sides darker.

Is there a way to use a leaf as a stamp and press some colour onto it using a dark oil (if so what oil is the darkest) or stain onto the project. As yet the box is still in pieces so I can decide what to do.
Or maybe use a sanding sealer in some manner.

any suggestions will help! thanks in advance

-- Theresa,

7 replies so far

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4103 days

#1 posted 05-04-2010 07:40 AM

Cool Idea!
Are you talking about using the leaf like a rubber stamp?
What about using a dye of some type, you can find a fairly wide bunch of colors.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View Sam Shakouri's profile

Sam Shakouri

1200 posts in 3114 days

#2 posted 05-04-2010 11:16 AM

Have you ever tryed pyrography, Theresa? If not, you will see a lot of fun.

-- Sam Shakouri / CREATING WONDERS WITH WOOD.....Sydney,Australia....

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2520 posts in 3710 days

#3 posted 05-04-2010 12:26 PM

Hi Theresa, I like using wood dyes for color of leaves etc and as Sam says using pyrography for the dark color and the veins. Lots of fun to be had with both.

-- Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3360 days

#4 posted 05-05-2010 10:46 AM

You could try kolrosing (similar to scrimshaw) Theresa. You just take a sharp knife like an Exacto knife for example and cut the pattern into the wood. No carving, just a straight fine line. You have to keep good control of your knife so it doesn’t slip. Keeping pressure on the blade with your free hand helps. Do the lines lightly first and then repeat until you reach a depth of say 1/16”. When finished you take sawdust in a contrasting color or even powdered coffee works and mix it with oil, then rub it over the surface. The pattern will then emerge. I would think you could color the wood inside the leaves with a permanent marker. I buy the felt tipped ones with a lot of colors like the kids use. The coloring should be done before rubbing in the oil. You might want to try some practice pieces first.

if you want shading effect you just do this by cutting a lot of parallel lines closely together in the area to be shaded. If you look into my blogs you will see one on kolrosing. It isn’t a tutorial, just examples and some history. Just click on my blogs and go to the bottom and click to see all 32 and it is towards the bottom of the list. I hope you try this. It’s easy, inexpensive and quite fun. Good luck whichever way you do it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3157 days

#5 posted 05-08-2010 04:42 PM

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3739 days

#6 posted 06-04-2010 04:47 AM

This may be too late but you might want to review Marc’s video on router inlay and how he adds colour/tone to some inlay by using heated sand.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View MisterCat's profile


22 posts in 2949 days

#7 posted 06-04-2010 07:23 AM

Theresa, I have had good luck producing some nice images on plastic wrap using an ink jet printer(plastic wrap here means the same sort of stuff you use in the kitchen on bowls, around food, ect). The reason that you want plastic film is that it’s really thin and transparent, and a couple of coats of varnish will disguise the edge of the plastic wrap (something on the order of 1-2 1/1000th)

1. Find a picture of the leaves you want. If you have some photo editing software, you can do things like making it sepia, but for your project, I’d try to match the border color.
2. Work with your printing software to get the image the right size, printed close to the middle of the paper. At this point I typically tape the paper printed images to where I want them on a project to see if I like the proportions, placement, ect. Also work out how to feed a given sheet of paper through the printer so that you know which side is ‘up’ and ‘top’
3. Print 3 or 4 copies of your image on full sheets of paper.
4. Attach the plastic film over the images you just printed. Make sure you don’t have any wrinkles over the image on the paper. This is actually trickier than it sounds. Methods I have used the the past: using a glue pen to draw a frame around the image, using very thin double stick tape to make a frame around the image, using spray adhesive and letting it dry for about 5 minutes then pressing the film onto the 95% dry adhesive, using scotch tape all around the edge of the plastic film. The good news is that plastic wrap and paper are cheap. The goal here is to cover the area of the page where the image is going to be printed with wrinkle-free plastic wrap that can be detached from the paper substrate after you’ve printed the image onto the plastic.
5. Feed the pieces of paper with the plastic wrap on them through the printer and print the leaf image a 2nd time. The ink jet image gets printed to the plastic wrap instead of the paper this time. This is also where you have to know how to feed the paper into the printer so that it prints over the area covered by plastic and not else were on the page. WARNING: if you’ve used adhesive spray in step 4, make sure it’s very dry, otherwise it might gum up the paper path of your printer.
6. Pull the paper out of the tray and let it dry at least for an hour so that you don’t smear the image on the plastic. We’ve made 3 or 4 copies so that if you mess one or two up, you don’t have to start from scratch.
7. Put at least one coat of your finish on before you try to put the plastic wrap with the image on it.
8. Attach the image to your project, printed side up. If you’re using varnish or shellac, put a small puddle of it where you want to put the image, as the liquid will help you avoid wrinkles and air bubbles. If something happens you can gently sand the plastic off the project, which is why I put a coat of finish on before the image.
9. It may be difficult to get your chosen finish to stick to plastic wrap. Shellac seems to work the best, varnish is good. I would suspect that finishes that have oils in them won’t work all that well. I have not tried them. Be careful sanding between coats as you might accidentally mar the image.

Good luck with what ever method you try out!

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