Autumn Leaf Crafts with Claire Smail

When Saltrock ambassador Claire Smail isn’t catching waves at Saunton she likes to get creative. This Autumn, she’s found some great craft ideas using the fallen leaves that are outside. Throw on your Saltrock hoodies and knitwear and head out on a walk with the family this Autumn, collect some leaves and follow Claire’s guide to making your own Leaf Bowl and Lanterns!

On those blustery, golden autumn days there is sometimes nothing better than getting outside and going for a walk.  I did this last week and found myself strolling through the most glorious array of blazing red, gold, yellow and green autumnal leaves.  Not being able to pass up such a colourful opportunity, I gathered some of the nicest leaves and retuned home with an idea of saving them and using them in a few different ways. 

My first thought was to make a leaf bowl – these can be used for trick or treats at Halloween, as a fruit bowl, or just a decoration.

I set aside some of the brightest, smaller leaves for later, keeping them flat by pressing them in between the layers of an old, heavy book (they are much harder to flatten when they’ve dried out), and used the larger ones for the bowl.


Here’s what your need 

  • Between 10 and 20 large (just fallen) leaves
  • Cling film
  • PVA glue
  • Brush
  • Bowl (If you have two bowls, one slight bigger than the other, even better)
  • Scissors

How to make it….

  • Firstly, prepare the leaves by cutting off all the stems. I also recommend cutting a small v into the bottom of the leaf, so they shape better.
  • Now cover the inside of your bowl (the largest one if you have two) in cling film.
  • Cover the cling film layer with a reasonable coat of PVA glue.
  • Then starting at the bottom of the bowl; alternate between arranging a leaf and brushing everything with the PVA glue, so that the whole inside of the bowl is covered in overlapping leaves.  For this layer face the most colourful side of the leave towards the outside of the bowl.
  • Once you have stuck down one full layer of leaves, brush a layer of PVA over the whole layer to seal it all in. You now need to leave it to dry overnight (if you have a smaller bowl, cover the outside of it in cling film and stack it onto the leaves so it is pressing the leaves down).

  • Once all the PVA has dried clear, you need to create a second inside layer to make the leaf bowl stronger. For this layer arrange the leaves, so the most colourful sides are facing into the bowl.  Arrange and stick them down using the same method as before.
  • When the second layer is complete, leave to dry again (with the smaller bowl paced inside again if you have one).
  • When it is all dry you need to remove the layer of leaves from the bowl mould.
  • Then carefully peel off the cling film (at this stage you might need to leave it to dry out completely).  As long as the bowl stands by itself (if not add another layer) you are ready to fill it with treats!



Another quicker, less sticky idea that makes the most magical, autumn evening decoration is to create a leaf lantern.

Here’s what you need to make these lanterns…

  • 5-10 small to medium leaves
  • Laminator and A4 laminating pouches
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tape
  • Large clean glass jars
  • Tea lights/ Candles


How to make one…

  • Once your leaves have been pressed for a few days and are completely dry, cut all the stems off.
  • Arrange your leaves in a line within the laminating pouch.
  • Apply pressure to flatten the leaves at much as possible, and then place in a pre-heated laminator (you will need to use quite thin leaves to prevent them getting stuck in the machine).
  • When they are laminated you can then trim off the edges of the pouch (just leaving a small, shaped boarder around the length of leaves). *
  • Using a clean, unlabelled jar you can now put the length of leaves around the outside of the jar.  Fix in place with a clear piece of sticky tape.
  • Now all you have to is put in a the tea light or a candle and light it….ta da…a lovely leafy lantern!
  • I liked to put my lanterns around the garden, but you could also experiment with tying some string around the top, so you can hang them up

*(Alternatively, if you do not have a laminator, you could just use PVA glue – glue the outside of the glass jar, stick the leaves on, then add an extra coat of PVA to seal it!)