Difficulty Level: Easy
Project Time: 30 minutes
STEAM Concepts: Science, Art,
Watercolor paper, a cotton t-shirt or other absorbant material
Fern frond or tree leaf
Natural colored sharpies
Hammer or mallet
Plastic garbage bag or paper bag for layering in between front & back of shirt
Gather fern fronds or leaves from plants that grow near your home. Collect your leaves or ferns early in the morning on a moist day.
If you are using a t-shirt, line it with plastic to keep the pattern from going through to the back of the shirt.
Place your leaf or fern frond onto the material of your choice.
Cover the leaf with a paper towel or parchment paper.
Pound the leaf with a mallet or ball-head hammer until your plant creates a pattern on your material.
TIP - Check your leaf or fern to make sure you are "breaking" the skin of the plant to release the chlorophyll. Moist plants work best.
Gently lift your plant off your material and scrape the plant remnants off. To finish your print, use a natural colored sharpie to add stem & leaf details to your print.
STEAM Connection & Educational Concepts
Experiment making chlorophyll prints with different plants, and you will soon see that not all plants create green prints. Plants produce substances called Pigments that help attract pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The exact color of the pigment a plant makes depends on how much light energy it recieves, and the type of pigment in the plant. There are four main types of pigments plants use to convert light energy into chemical energy: Anthocyanin, anthoxanthin, Chlorophyll, and Carotenoid. Research different plant pigments and find out how they effect the color of flowers, leaves, and stems. Another concept to explore with this activity is how pigments in plants convert light energy into chemical energy through the process of photosynthesis.
Photosynthesis for kids: https://photosynthesiseducation.com/photosynthesis-for-kids/
Video about plant pigments and how they effect the color of plants: https://www.britannica.com/video/152178/Sunlight-plants-chlorophyll-pigments-colouring
Article about plant pigments: https://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/leaves/pigment
For an advanced activity try these resources for a photographic process of making prints on leaves using chlorophyll:
Author - Brandy Stone