Introduction: Indian Summer Graffiti

About: I'm a stand-up comedian, I make stuff.

I've always wondered if there is a way to influence the colour of autumn leafs. After some research in literature I found that the UV-light (amongst other things) is responsible for the discoloration of the leaves. I 'm not an expert and don't shoot me if I draw the wrong conclusions, but if you look at a tree in autumn you see dat the discoloration is stronger at the sunny side of the trees. So with the proper kind of material you could filter the sunlight to make simple shapes in the autumn leafs. And with some patience the sunlight burns an "indian summer graffiti".

Step 1: Materials and Tools


  • sunlight filtering fabric (fleece)
  • flat iron
  • round iron tube
  • round wood
  • some little woodscrews
  • Larger screws and taps (to attach the structures to the wall)


  • Stick welder
  • Sewing machine
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • screwdriver

Step 2: Construction

I made simple geometric constructions. The corner pieces have angles of 60° and 90° to make square or triangle shapes. The feet (left item in the first picture) are the pieces to mount the shapes on the walls. The rest of the constructions I made from wood because it is light, flexible and can be corrected quickly on site. Especially the "legs" of the construction. Every leafage has different thickness so the legs have to be cut to the correct length. The construction has to sit as closely to the plant as possible.

The fabric is often used in horticulture and agriculture. Small, young plants sometimes have to be protected from sunlight and the cold. This kind of fleece does that. It filters 10 % of the sunlight, so I thought 4 layers would be enough.

Step 3: Patience

My plant of choice was Virginia Creeper. Because it has very beautiful colored leafs in autumn and most importantly: it is a climbing plant, so I could attach the constructions to the climbing wall. Although it would be cool, it is much more hassle to wrap a tree with simple geometric figures.

And than we played the waiting game. The experiment started in september when the leaves were still green and ended in october when the first leaves started to fall.

Step 4: Result

The end result is pretty satisfying although I was a bit disappointed at first. Maybe I was naive but I thought it would be clearly visible, I expected a lager contrast. But after all, I do like the way the graffiti came out. And I'm pretty proud of my first attempt.

Maybe, if I make another version next year, I 'll use another kind of fabric. A fabric that filters more sunlight. Maybe a combination of shadow fabric and the one I used this time. This is no exact science, the only thing I know is: there has to be some sunlight under the constructions, otherwise the leaves will die and fall.

Anyway, it was a good exercise in patience.