I love when a simple, elegant (and cheap) detail can upgrade an entire table, and this DIY place card project is exactly that sort of thing. These would be such a beautiful wedding detail for a Southern inspired reception! As someone planning their own wedding right now trust me, those wheels are turning! I've wanted to work on a project with calligrapher, Laney Schenk for ages. Her work is beautiful! She's local to Greensboro, NC and we've been brainstorming for some time about the perfect project to work on together. She proposed these golden magnolia leaves and I was instantly smitten!
We documented the entire process over at my studio, and Laney even showed us three different writing tools so you're covered no matter your calligraphy skill level (hi, total beginner here). Even though I don't know proper calligraphy, I like my cursive handwriting and could see that working with a similar effect. Not into cursive? This project could take on a modern edge with the names written in simple, narrow, all caps.
Laney was kind enough to write the directions step by step and she included some great tips about the different writing tools we used. Ready to make something pretty?
Here's What You'll Need:
Writing Tool Options:
Molotow Paint Pen: Beginner approved! We used the 2 mm tip.
Pen-Touch Gold Pen: Beginner approved! We used the .7 mm extra fine tip.
Calligraphy Supplies: The nibs can be a little more challenging but the final true Calligraphy look speaks for itself!
1) Tape The Leaves:
Lay your magnolia leaves out on a drop cloth or other painting surface. Use your painter’s tape to tape off about 1” from the tip of the leaf. Vary the distance based on the size of the leaf and how long your names are! Because the leaves aren’t flat, this part is where you want to be careful - use a bone folder or your fingernails to make sure you get tape right into the seam so the paint won’t leak. If you are worried about spraying the uncovered part of the leaf, just put a piece of paper under the tape so it covers up the rest of the leaf during painting.
2) Spray The Leaves:
Lightly spray the tips of the leaves for your gold-dipped look! This spray paint is very shiny so you don’t need to coat it heavily to get a gorgeous effect - hold the can a few inches away from the leaves to avoid any blobbing. Tip: If you hold the can toward the tape and spray toward the tip you reduce the risk of any paint getting underneath the tape.
3) Let The Leaves Dry:
Give them about 30 minutes to dry before carefully removing your tape - and voila! Gold-dipped leaves! Now comes the fun part...
- We wanted to show that you can make these gorgeous place cards with any tools that you are comfortable with! We tried out a bunch of paint pens and found our two favorites were the Molotow and the Pen-Touch, but you can use pretty much any paint pen that is acrylic-based (read, not oil-based). Leaves aren’t totally flat, so press them as flat as possible while writing for the best results!
- Molotow Paint Pen: this is a larger tipped pen and looked great on some of our larger leaves. The Molotow comes in a huge variety of colors and tip widths though, so you can use whatever colors fit your event!
- Pen-Touch Gold Pen: This is my favorite of all paint pens, and this gold is extra shiny and permanent. It writes very smoothly, too, so just take your time and don’t press down too hard into the leaf.
- Calligraphy Supplies: If you’re up for the challenge (or you’re already comfortable with calligraphy) this will definitely add a special touch to your place settings! We used our absolute favorite nib, the Brause Blue Pumpkin, which is ideal for a surface like this. You’ll want to avoid EF or sharper nibs, as those can scratch the leaves and cause them to start browning quicker. We used a thick mix of Dr. PH Martin’s Bleedproof White ink, which is an acrylic-based white ink that we love. Mixing it a little thicker than normal helps you get an opaque line that doesn’t pool.
If you're using freshly picked leaves you’ll want to use the leaves within a day or two of picking them, as they can start wrinkling or browning. Remember that these are a natural product, so no two will be alike - this is what makes them so special, but also makes them slightly more tricky to work with! Pick around 50% extra, and take your time to ensure the best results.
A big thank you to Laney for sharing this project with us!