Make: Stamped Halftone Leaf and Gourd Collages

These pop-y halftone leaf and gourd collages offer a new way to look at highlights and shadows (through the eyes of a graphic designer) while celebrating a few of November’s natural beauties and the joy of handmade art!

Three halftone leaf collages and gourd collages sitting next to our art project supplies and paper scraps

Over the past couple of years, one of the things I’ve had the MOST fun exploring is how to bring some of my fav graphic design processes into projects for kids.

Back when I went to school, computers & software were still shiny, new, and *expensive* so we did a lot of our work by hand. We’d hand-ink designs, take them into the darkroom for a photograph with the crazy huge stat camera (google it!) then develop the final posters. It was…a lot.

Our halftone leaf and gourd collage made into a fall wall hanging and hung on a white wall

Halftones (the patterns of dots you see in everything from Roy Lichtenstein’s artwork & modern design to printed pizza boxes) were especially excruciating to ink by hand. Which is why, when I revisited halftones to try this interpretation for kids, the art student in me jumped for joy over BUBBLE WRAP. All those dots, done in an instant!

Using a stamped halftone pattern is a unique way to explore highlights & shadows, as well as negative and positive space. AND…one of my very favorite things about this particular project is that, through the printing and collaging process, you use the ENTIRE piece of paper – twice! Hurrah for low waste art-ting! 

Can’t get enough of the graphic fall art ideas? Try our potato and apple stamped pumpkin art next (the dry bean-decorated cardboard frames take them to the NEXT level..!).

To make your own halftone leaf and gourd collages you’ll need:



*Note: For those concerned about the use of bubble wrap (a non-recyclable) I recommend washing and reusing – just as you would paintbrushes or other art supplies. If you’re working with tempera or acrylics, the paint comes right off with a quick soapy sponge scrub and rinse.

Halftone Leaf and Gourd Collage Instructions:

  1. Draw gourd and leaf shapes onto paper or use our templates

    Grab a few different colors of paper and sketch out a gourd or leaf (or any shape you want!) in the middle of the paper.
    Draw some gourds and leaves or use our templates | Halftone gourd & leaf collage instructions
    If you’d prefer, you can also use our templates (see examples below). Download and print onto a piece of copy paper or cardstock, cut out, and trace.

  2. Carefully cut out your shapes

    Being careful to follow the pencil line, cut one continuous line around your shape.
    Carefully cut your gourds and leaves out of the paper | Halftone gourd & leaf collage instructions
    Save the large pieces you cut your shapes from because you’ll be using those as stencils when it comes time to stamp our halftone patterns.

  3. Arrange your gourds and leaves on paper or cardboard

    Using a piece of cardboard, cardstock, or construction paper as a background, create a composition with your gourds and leaves.

    We added a couple of strips of colored paper to create some contrasting areas of color.

  4. Use a glue stick to glue down the background of your composition

    Glue all the background pieces of your composition down with a glue stick.
    Glue your composition to the backing | Halftone gourd & leaf collage instructions
    Once finished, trim any excess paper from the edges of your project. Before you begin stamping, think about what colors of paint you’ll want to use. Would you like to create a lot of contrast, subtle patterns, or use a monochromatic color palette?

  5. Begin creating halftone patterns with painted bubble wrap

    It’s time to start adding halftone patterns! We began by adding a large strip of halftone pattern to the middle of our composition.
    Use bubble wrap to print halftone patterns | Halftone gourd & leaf collage instructions
    I’ve found it’s easiest to apply the paint to the bubble wrap using a foam brush. It doesn’t take a thick layer of paint – just a couple of brushes of color to add enough paint to print!

    Once painted, carefully turn your bubble wrap so the painted side is facing your project, and gently lay it over the area you want to stamp. Rub across the top of the bubble wrap firmly a few times (being sure to get all the way to the edges) then pull back the bubble wrap to reveal your printed halftone pattern!

  6. Use your paper stencils to create gourd and leaf-shaped halftone patterns

    Grab the leftover paper scrap you cut your shapes from to use as a stencil that can help you create halftone patterns in a gourd or leaf shape.
    Using the paper you cut your gourd or leaves from as a stencil, print a halftone pattern over the shape | Halftone gourd & leaf collage instructions
    Cut out a piece of bubble wrap roughly the same size as your stencil. Lay your stencil down first, then stamp the bubble wrap on top of it. Gently pull back the stencil & bubble wrap together. (Note: If printing with younger kids, you might find it helpful to secure your stencil with a small piece of tape before printing).

    This part of the process provides a wonderful opportunity to discuss positive and negative shapes, as well as shadows and highlights.

  7. Glue your gourds and leaves down

    Once your printed halftones have dried, use a glue stick to glue down your gourds and leaves.
    Use a glue stick to glue your leaves and gourds on top. | Halftone gourd & leaf collage instructions

  8. Add small decorative details to finish your collage

    To finish off your project, you can add some small details as we did, with scraps of cut paper, the gourd “stems,” and some bubble wrap stamped highlights.
    Finish your collage by adding small details | Halftone gourd & leaf collage instructions
    You can recycle the stencils you stamped on by flipping them over to the blank side and using it somewhere on your composition.

    We created a halftone highlight on our squash by cutting a small half-circle shape out of bubble wrap and using it to stamp a white “highlight”.

Now, how beautiful are those? I’m planning on stringing a few of these beauties together to drape across the wall behind our Thanksgiving table.

You can create a lovely kid-made gallery wall by grouping a whole collection of these together – totally suitable for framing! Or form a little hanger out of a piece of copper wire (as we did for our larger gourd collage) for an instant touch of November anywhere!

However you decide to display your completed collages, I hope you have the MOST fun making them – the heart of the project is all in the process. Happy half-toning, future designers!

Two halftone leaf and gourd collages sitting on a white background

For another opportunity to explore collaging with an autumn theme, try a photocopied leaf collage! Or use up more scrap supplies for a spooky wall hanging with our scrap paper ghost art.

And don’t throw out that used bubble wrap! You can recycle it to create these amazing scrap stamp shape collages or some terrifically entertaining constellation process art.

Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.


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