These leaves started out looking like this.
Years ago at a craft show someone was selling various shaped ornaments that had a beautiful warm wood grain. I asked her how she made them and she kindly explained they were actually cut-outs from the craft store that she had painted with watered down craft paint.
A little jar holds this homemade "stain"...a generous squeeze of dark brown paint and about three times as much water. It's amazing how well this concoction works.
And now these poor leaves have been sitting on my desk for a week, half strung on twine, and practically begging to be part of a finished project.