Leaf project

Primary research of leaves
Examples of leaf inspired art
Rubbings of leaves
Prints of leaves
Drawings of leaves, focusing on form.

Material Research


Step 1: Collect drink cans, find a range of brands to get varied colours.


Step 2: The tools you will need are; pliers, wire, apoxy glue and scissors.

I will not be using all of these tools for my project.

Cut out the shapes

Step 3: Use scissors or paramedic scissors to cut out the desired shapes.


Do drink cans rust?

As I am planning to make my leaf out of drink cans i need to know if they will last outside. Cans are made from aluminium which is a good metal for resisting corrosion and rust. This is because of the thin layer of aluminium oxide that forms when the metal is exposed to air.

Hazard Assesments

Experimenting with wire to create leaf shapes. The image on left was with thicker wire which was more difficult to manipulate into the correct shape. The image on the right was with 38swg silver wire and 90swg green wire. This was much easier to manipulate but not as strong, would not last outside.
After deciding what shape i would like the leaf to be a made a template out of card. This will make it easier and quicker to create more leaves of the same shape. For this project a card template will be sufficient as I am only making 5-10 leaves where as if these where to be mass produced i would need a stronger template such as wood, metal or plastic.
I drew around the card template onto a piece of plywood and used a jigsaw to cut it out. This was fairly difficult as the shape is all curved lines so i had to come in at many different angles to get the correct shape. I then used a to sand down the edges to make them smooth and get rid of any errors i made with the jigsaw.
I then began to experiment by cutting up drink cans and trying to fold them around the plywood leaf. This proved to be slightly difficult as i think the plywood is too thick. Next i tried to find ways how to attach the metal to the plywood. In the right hand image i used small metal tacks. These were fairly difficult to hammer into the wood and the sharp end is slightly poking out the other side making it a health and safety hazard, therefor i will have to experiment using other methods.

What can be used to keep aluminium cans together?

Epoxy hardener, nails, tacks, superglue

In the above pictures I used the plywood leaf template to wrap the wire round and make a thick wire leaf shape.
I cut out thin strips out of aluminium cans and experimented wrapping it round the wire. This initially didn't work because the metal wouldn't stay in place. I tried wrapping masking tape as a base around the wire, but this would not look effective and would not be durable enough to last outside.
Next i tried to weave the strips of aluminium together. This also proved to be very difficult because they weren't all the same size making it very difficult to get a strong structure.

After many experiments using aluminium cans I realised it is a much more difficult material to work with than I initially thought. I couldn't find an effective way of attaching the cans to the plywood or the wire frame. I decided to think of some more possible design ideas.

I went back and looked at the features of a leaf and thought i could incorporate all the veins that run through the leaf. I thought of using wire to represent this.
I came up with this design. I will use the original plywood leaf and draw the veins on (simplified) and drill small holes along these lines. I will then weave coloured reel wire between these holes to represent the veins of a leaf. My concern with this design is the wood will lose its durability after drilling all the holes in it. I might have to reduce the number of holes or come up with a new idea.
This is the prototype for my new leaf idea. The outline is very messy with lots of grooves cut into it so i'll re-cut 3 different shaped leaves. For my final leaves I'm going to wood stain them to give them a nicer colour.
Here are the 3 leaf shapes I'm going to use. I chose very basic shapes as it will be easier to cut them out using the jigsaw.
I clamped the piece of plywood to the workbench and cut out the shapes using a jigsaw. Because the shapes were curved, I found it difficult to cut. I cut as close to the line as I could and then sanded the edges making them smooth and neat using a mouse sander.
After the leaves had been cut out and sanded I drew roughly where the 'veins' would be and drilled holes along these lines and then painted them green.
I weaved the wire through the holes and this is the final outcome.

This project involved a lot of trial and error. I did extensive primary and secondary research of leaves, techniques and materials. All of this, plus the experiments would help me come up with a design. Originally, I was going to use drink cans. I researched into other artwork that uses cans but after many different experiments I found the drink cans were not a good material to work with to produce the outcome I needed. I came up with my second idea, using wire, by looking back at the wire experiments I did at the beginning of the year. I though wire would be good material to use because of its availability, its choice and because it is easy to use and manipulate. I chose plywood for similar reasons. My design changed quite often throughout the process because of problems I encountered or because I simply changed my mind slightly. This is all part of the process and helped me develop my skills further. The overall outcome wasn’t what I expected. After drilling the holes, I realised the plywood had splintered on the back causing it to look rather messy. If I were to do this again I would consider using a different type of wood and sanding the wood after drilling the holes so that the outcome would look neater and the paint would be applied easier. This project allowed me to practice using a jigsaw, which I struggle with and I will continue to practice producing more clean work. I chose to do 3 different shaped leaves to add some variation which I am glad I did, although I wish I took that one step further and used a different shade of green on each leaf. If these were to be mass produced the cutting stage would all be done by machine such as a laser cut. This would speed up the process and also guarantee accurate, professional looking work.

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