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Fish leaf carving


Leaves make oxygen and food. They are important for our air quality and our health.  Coastal plants are rich habitats for fish, crabs and many other types of animals.  Surprisingly leaves can also become works of art.

Artist Lorenzo Duran uses his self designed leaf carvings to celebrate art and communicate about nature.  (See the photo he has allowed us to use for demonstration)  Please go to the link and view his incredible artistry at: Lorenzo Duran 

Leaves of plants have a vascular system of veins that you can often see. They absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Use these veins to help your image to emerge from the leaf.

NB: Safety

This project is best suited to high school students.

Go through safety with using sharp implements with students.

An adult should place sharp implements on tables.

Students should never walk around with sharp implements.

Demonstrate how to cut leaves while keeping fingers safe.

Set very specific guidelines for students.   

Fish leaf carving cont.


What you need:

  • Very large fresh leaves
  • Something to press leaves flat, i.e. pieces of wood with clamps or bricks to sit on top, or a big heavy  book.
  • A bottle of liquid paraffin from the Chemist
  • Pen knife or scalpel
  • Tracing paper
  • Pen, texta, fineliner as per your preference
  • Very small painting brush
  • Cutting board

NB: Safety

  • This project is best suited to high school students.
  • Go through safety with using sharp implements with students.
  • An adult should place sharp implements on tables.
  • Students should never walk around with sharp implements.
  • Demonstrate how to cut leaves while keeping fingers safe.
  • Set very specific guidelines for students. 

Leaf carving cont.

What to do:

  • Think through design around positive and negative spaces and methodology for carving.
  • Look at your leaf (leaves) and consider the architecture of the leaf. How can you maintain the structure of the leaf and still bring your design through it.

Begin process: 

  • Draw your design on piece of tracing paper
  • Cut the negative spaced shapes away from the design
  • Place your leaf on a suitable cutting surface
  • Place paper over the leaf and mark your design onto the leaf
  • Take your cutting implement and trace the pattern as you have marked it, checking to see
  • that the shape is following your original design or alter to suit as you go along
  • Experiment with cutting methods to get your best result
  • When cutting is complete, paint the leaf with liquid paraffin.
  • Experiment with what works at each stage
  • Think outside the box when looking for solutions in your design or delivery methods
  • Begin again if you must and remember to stop before you have gone too far.

Record progress and results:

  • notes are helpful
  • photos are essential
  • videos to make the project come alive

After you have thoroughly photographed your finished project, and made a video if possible, share your project and your message with:

  • Your class
  • Your school
  • The community - perhaps contact the local paper?

Send a copy to AUSMEPA too at education@ausmepa.org.au or info@ausmepa.org.au 

We will be highlighting student art on our webpages at www.ausmepa.org.au

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