Preserving Fall Leaves
Happy fall! We are in love with the golds, red and yellows of the season. Sometimes it feels that the changing of leaves can color a landscape more dramatically than wildflowers. Want to save some of these colors and use them in your home decor? Here is a handy guide to preserving fall leaves!
First, Leave the bad ones on the ground. It is important to pick leaves that will press well, so it is helpful to have leaves which already are laying somewhat flat. Ones with bumps, curls, rips and bends won’t look as good in the finished product, and can be difficult to press.
The simplest way to preserve leaves is by pressing. Place your leaves in sheets of newspaper or wax paper so they are lying in a single sheet, no overlapping. Then place at least one heavy book on top of your paper-covered leaves. After a week, check to make sure the leaves aren’t rotting, although they will probably need another week or two to fully press. When the leaves are completely flat and dry, they are done. Use leaves preserved this way on mantels, filling baskets, or as a festive table covering for Halloween and Thanksgiving!
Preserving leaves in wax paper with the help of an iron is a great option, especially for kids and those adults lacking patience! Begin with sandwiching the leaves in wax paper and placing a towel over them. Take your iron, which is on high, and run it carefully over the towel on top of the leaves in the wax paper. Be sure to be gentle so your leave don’t shift! Check every few passes, when the wax paper begins to seal, hold the iron directly over the leaves for 3-6 seconds to fully melt and seal the leaves. Wait for the leaves to cool, then use to decorate! Leaves preserved in this manner will last for 4-6 months.
You can also speed the process with a microwave and silica gel. Silica gel is found those strange packets you find in new shoeboxes which helps prevent moisture damage. You can collect these packets, or pick up a jar at a craft store. Place a 1-inch layer of silica gel in a microwave safe bowl. Lay leaves, without an overlap, on top the gel then cover with more silica gel. Microwave the leaves for about a minute and check to see if they look dry and flat. If needed continue microwaving and checking in short intervals. Be sure to check them often leaves, like many things, can catch on fire when microwaved!