Make Preserved Palm Leaf Bowls

palm leaf bowls
One of the best parts of visiting our family is the creativity we all share between us when we’re together. On the island last week we did just that. With palm leaves! Palm trees are in abundance there, literally everywhere! Folks on the island preserve the leaves from these trees and use them for all kinds of things- as sculptural pieces in their home, to hold desk utensils, or to serve hor d’oeuvres at a party. I love the idea of bring natural elements like this into our homes, to enjoy up close.
palm leaf bowls
One afternoon, my father-in-law and I went foraging for appropriately shaped palm leaves to preserve. The leaves in these pictures are all ones that have been trimmed or have fallen from the palm trees. Some have nicer shapes than others, but most of them can work once preserved.
palm leaf bowls
If you ever find yourself near discarded palm leaves (this happens to me once a year if at all, but maybe you are luckier), here’s how we preserved them.
palm leaf bowls
The bottom part of the leaf that attached it to the tree itself, sometimes call the “boot” is the ideal part to use for this project. That area can be perfectly shaped for vessels or bowls. But we managed to make some really beautiful ones just using discarded palm leaves that seemed to have just a bit of curl around the edges, and shaped to be able to hold something inside or sit on a table without wobbling.
I scrubbed the leaves, which are surprisingly sturdy and tough, with soap and warm water and set them out to dry overnight.
Once they were clean and dry, I coated them with an amber-colored shellac. Two coats on both sides were all they needed. I love the shine and amber shade that the shellac added.
palm leaf bowls
The stems aren’t needed and could be cut off, but I liked the way they looked.
palm leaf bowls
I left most of them at my inlaws, thinking they’ll put them to good use, but I picked two of them to take home. They withstood the trip home in my luggage perfectly!
palm leaf bowls
For now, I have them both in the dining room holding some of our favorite collected shells and air plants.
palm leaf bowls
Thank you all so much for the etsy orders last week! I am working on some fun new things for the shop, stay tuned!

  • Z

    April 22, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Uau! I’ve Never seen these before!

  • Cheryl Arkison

    May 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    If only I’d known! I love this and would have brought some back from our trip in January. Oh well, next time.

  • Estela

    May 20, 2013 at 10:32 am

    thanks for sharing i love this idea, we will be going to California this summer and maybe I can get some bowls.

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