Sunday, August 9, 2009

Preserving Fall Leaves

Fall is a wonderful time for a walk and we all see leaves that we wish that we could keep forever, now we can by one of the methods below. Choose beautiful fall leaves for their shape and color and avoid leaves with imperfections. It is better to pick leaves or branches directly from the tree rather than from the ground-these are already dry. Each method has its merits and all are very simple- so take time for that fall walk and find some leaves to decorate with !

Pressing Leaves in a Book
This is probably the simplest method if you are just wanting to save a couple of leaves. Take an old thick book and place the leaves between the pages making sure they are completely flat- it will take a few days to dry but will last for many weeks and retain their wonderful color.

Pressing Leaves with Wax Paper
Place the leaves between two layers of wax paper and cover with a old towel or cloth rag. Press the fabric with a warm iron sealing the leaves between the two layers of wax paper. Let cool and cut out the leaves carefully.

Microwaving Leaves
Choose the freshest leaves with the brightest colors do not use fallen leaves. Place each leaf between two sheets of paper towel in the microwave and cover with another sheet of paper towel. Run the microwave for 30-180 seconds-check often and be careful you can start a fire. If the leaves curl up after removal they are not dry enough. If they are scorched you have left them for too long. Let the leaves dry flat for a couple of days and spray with a sealant

Preserving Leaves with Glycerin
This is my personal favorite method and I have found that it works the best. To preserve leaves on the branch set the branch stem in a bucket of water for about 1 1/2 hour. Mix 2 parts water and 1 part glycerin in a saucepan and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Cut the stems of the branches at an angle ans smash so that they can absorb more glycerin solution. Place the stems in the glycerin solution and store in a cool place. When you see beads of glycerin on the leaves remove and wipe each leaf with a clean paper towel. Hang go dry. To preserve individual leaves remove any debris from the laves. Bring the mixture of 1 part glycerin and 2 parts water to a boil in a saucepan. Pour the mixture into a heat proof container and submerge the leaves. Keep the leaves covered in a dark cool place until the leaves start to change color. Remove the leaves and dry with a paper towel.

All of the above methods work. The leaves I have preserved with glycerin have lasted many years and I often find a leaf pressed in an old book. If I just want to bring some branches in and place in a vase. I just add 1/2 teaspoon of glycerin to the water and change weekly. Glycerin can be found in any drug store.

Happy Fall Decorating !

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