Pressed Leaf Memory Game

Written by Tyler Morris
Mon Aug 29, 2016

This summer, the kids and I made a few "Pressed Leaf Memory Games."  It was a very fun and rewarding art project that incorporated skills that anyone- young or old- can master, including; leaf identifying and collecting, rubber stamp carving, precise paper cutting and hand lettering.

Design Considerations

Before we started we had to make some decisions regarding the game's appearance and function.  We figured that a roughly 3" x 4" playing card would be a nice size and that laminating it would be the best choice for durability. We wanted the card backs to have art on them, but they all had to be nearly identical for fairness of play.  We also thought that a set of 24 (twelve pairs) would be a nice amount per set and that the leaves would be most interesting if they were different, thus emphasizing the variability among the species.

Laminating Pouches

Honestly, I find it unfortunate that I had to marry the leaf's natural beauty with plastic, but all things considered, it was the best choice. We searched the internet and found laminating pouches that measure 3 1/8" X 4 1/2".  They are intended to be used with inexpensive, home laminating machines that are available at many stores for about $30.

Leaf Collecting

Since the cards are relatively small we decided to pick "baby leaves" in the Spring.  We collected all the leaves during the first half of May 2016. There are few native broad leaved trees in Fort Collins, Colorado, so we mainly collected them from ornamental trees along the city streets and in our parks.  We collected leaves from many varieties of trees including; ginkgo, hawthorns, maples, oaks, aspen, cottonwoods, lindens, sweetgum, redbud, hackberry, pears, tuliptree, beeches, birch, alder, and believe it or not- many more. Also, using immature leaves allowed us to press compound leaves such as honeylocust, white ash, walnut, hickory, boxelder, and mountain ash. The leaves were then pressed in one of our wooden Leaf Presses

Paper

We used an 80lb. linen paper and cut it 2 3/4" x 4 1/8".

Rubber Stamps

Over the past few years, the kids and I have developed an interest in rubber stamp making and we figured that it would be a perfect thing for the back side of our cards.  The kids carved an owl, a kitty and a truck.  Since I'm giving the set in the picture to my mother, I decided to immortalize her pet chihuahua. We use carving rubber from Blick Art Supply.  We only use Speedball's #1 cutter and this handle.

Assembly

First, we stamped 24 of our sized paper backs.  Next, we each chose 12 pairs of leaves, and in our best handwriting, wrote the leaf name on the front.  Then we carefully placed the leaf on the paper, slipped it into the pouch, then finally through the laminating machine.  Note that we did not adhere the leaf to the paper because the lamination process keeps the leaf in place.  In case you've forgotten how to play Memory, here are the rules.

That's it.  We like to keep our sets rubber banded and not "put away" because visitors like to play or simply admire them. Have fun and if you have any questions feel free to contact me.

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