Clay Pressed-Leaf Pendants or Wall Hangings

One of our favorite autumn activities is to make leaf prints in clay. It’s easy, low-prep, and has gorgeous results. It’s a great activity for all ages.

Image of many oval pieces of clay with the texture of leaves and other nature objects pressed in, painted in a variety of autumn colors. Several of the pieces are hung like pendants on necklace cords.

This project could be done year-round with a variety of plants. For some reason it’s ended up being a fall tradition for us. We use acorns, evergreens, and other nature objects, but we mostly use leaves.

For this project you want leaves that are still somewhat soft. Crunchy, dry leaves will fall apart when you press them into the clay.

Multiple photos of pendants made from clay with the texture of leaves pressed in. Text reads "how to make clay pressed-leaf pendants." The Mama Rhythm logo watermark is in the bottom right corner.

The “pendants” could be used on necklaces like we made here and they would make great additions to a nature mobile or wall hanging. I hope to make a wall hanging this year with clay prints made during all four seasons.

We used air-dry clay because I happened to have it on hand. You could use another clay if you like.

Air-dry clay is easy for preschoolers to work with. It’s also one of the options that can be painted, which is our daughter’s favorite step. Polymer clay may be too stiff for young children.

Photo of a preschooler's hands pressing a piece of clay onto a leaf. A bucket of clay is in the foreground. Leaves and evergreen needles are in the background.
Photo of a preschooler using a paintbrush to apply orange paint to a round clay pendant with a leaf impression on top. A variety of paint colors are on the table, as are unpainted and fully and partially painted pendants.

Our necklaces have held up shockingly well despite the fragility of air-dry clay. It all depends on who’s wearing them and how rowdy they are. I recommend using jewelry-grade polymer clay that you bake in the oven if you want to make pendants that will hold up well.

How to make clay leaf print pendants

Materials Needed:

  • Air dry clay (or another clay of choice)
  • Assorted leaves and other nature finds
  • A straw (or other tool for punching holes)
  • Acrylic paint in colors of your choice
  • A flat workspace (cutting boards work well)
  • Paint brushes
  • A cup of water (for rinsing brushes)
  • A rolling pin (optional)
  • Cookie cutters and knives (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Smash or roll out small to medium pieces of clay into flat shapes of your choice. They should be around 1/4-inch thick. Preschoolers can learn to roll the clay into a ball and then smash under their palm.
  2. Carefully lift the shape from your flat surface.
  3. Lay a leaf down, vein-side up. Place your clay shape on top of the leaf and press down with your palm, a rolling pin, or flat object.
  4. Carefully peel your clay shape off the leaf. Flip onto its back and lay on a piece of parchment paper or paper plate.
  5. Use the straw to cut a hole in the clay where you’d like the string or ribbon to be attached.
  6. Repeat for as many as you’d like to make.
  7. Allow all the finished clay pieces to dry.
  8. Use acrylic paint to decorate the pieces.
  9. Add string or ribbon and enjoy!
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