I loooove these. Homemade chestnut snakes. Aren't they just hillarious... A great way to use all your findings with the kids. DIY here: http://www.paapinden.dk/blog/2012/10/21/kastanjeslanger/#chestnutsnakes
Something to try... Simmer thick leaves in a baking soda mixture. It should leave behind the skeleton of the leaf which you can then lightly paint or dye.