Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How to Preserve Autumn Leaves

I searched the web for hours and found only one site that gave similar instructions. I knew this procedure existed so, as I am usually inclined, I dove in. My thought was that leaves are easily replaceable....if I ruin them, there are more! First I tried Liquid Amber leaves, from my neighbors yard, just in case. Even in California these trees have the most beautiful Fall colors, and it worked. First try! So here you go. These photos though, are wild grape leaves.



Collect fresh fallen leaves that are still soft and supple. I snipped off thick stems.


Place between two paper towels, on top of a pad of newspaper, on an ironing surface. You won't want the leaves to overlap.
Heat iron to it's highest setting, and turn the steam off. You want a hot and dry iron.


Press (on top of the paper towel) from about a minute to five minutes, checking occasionally to test for dryness. When you feel that they are almost right, flip them over, and iron the other side.


Next, pull of a sheet of regular kitchen waxed paper, twice the length that you need. Fold it in half and crease it down the center. Place it on top of a paper towel, place the leaves inside, fold the top half of the sheet over the leaves, add another paper towel, and press for 20 or 30 seconds. Turn the whole assemblage over, and press for 10 or 20 seconds, (we're just trying to get the wax onto the leaves, here). Pull the waxed paper apart while it's still warm, and remove the leaves. I repeated this step twice, because in my Internet search, several people mentioned that waxed paper isn't as heavily waxed as it used to be.


Voila! You have preserved Autumn Leaves for decorating!
I don't know how long they'll last, I only did it yesterday, but I know that this is a time honored practice. I have spoken to a few people (specifically, my 98 year old Grandmother) who remember that this was done. Grandma says, people used to do a lot of things like this. They didn't have any money, and beautification projects like this were free. The discussion included yo-yo quilts, and a paper decoration called a wasp's nest, which I am going to have her demonstrate for me again this week, and maybe I can show you. (crossed fingers, here) She says that her Mama always made wasp's nests out of wrapping paper, which, I think means, from the grocer, so think craft paper, tissue paper, or maybe butcher paper. . . maybe all three!
In a couple of days, I hope to show you the uses I found for my collection of incredible colored leaves, in spite of our climate!


8 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this! We have a beautiful sweetgum tree in our yard with the most incredible leaves and I can't wait to try this technique with them. Your projects using the leaves look great too.

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  2. Thank you, Ann! It means a lot to me that you took the time to add a note. If you stop by again, I hope you will send me a picture of your leaf project, I'll post it. I don't know what Sweetgum leaves look like! I would love to see what you come up with!
    ~Debbi

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  3. I just happened to stumble across your site when I googled "how to preserve leaves." I have never done anything with dried botanicals before and wasn't expecting much, but they turned out beautifully and will hang in my living room. Thanks sooo much for the help! :o)

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  4. Thanks for sharing these instructions. My sister is collecting leaves today to frame for our mother and I'm sharing this with her. Interesting blog, will add it as a favorite!
    Sheree

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  5. I appreciate the detailed photos of your work. Thank you for sharing them. Halina.

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  6. Thank you soooooo much!!! I wanted to make escort cards for my wedding using pressed leaves because its cheap and this sooo worked!!! I searched too everywhere and you are the only one that makes it simple!! thank you thank you thank you
    xoxox missy

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  7. Hi, read this article today september 2012, almost 4 years since it was posted. would really like to know how well the leaves lasted, as i would like to make a tray with autumn leaves, will place them on handmade paper below a sheet of glass,

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  8. Hi! I hope you check back to see that I am answering you! I am very pleased with the results! The colors are still rich, except one, but it was green when I pressed it, and it has browned. I'm very pleasantly surprised myself! Thanks for the question! :)
    ~Debbi

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