Artsy way to preserve autumn leaves November 7, 2014

When I was a kid, one of the things I loved to do in the fall was to find and preserve autumn leaves. When I walked with my grandpa, we’d identify each leaf before we picked it up. I learned about simple and compound leaves, and how to tell if they were toothed or lobed, and so on.

ROYAutumn

A warm rainbow of colors in our forest

So when I walked to school and back, I also often picked leaves up on my own. Because of grandpa’s instruction, I knew my favorites were usually sugar maple leaves. They could be so brilliant and vivid: reds, oranges and yellows.

preserve autumn leaves: spotting an autumn maple

This looks like a good candidate

My mother would help me preserve them: we’d lay my findings between sheets of waxed paper, and iron on the wax to preserve them. I picked out the best to keep, and laid them out on my desk or bookshelves, or hung them on the refrigerator. That was at artsy as it got (and there’s certainly something beautiful and simple about just waxing them.) As gorgeous as they were, though, they still only lasted a month or two before they got brittle or lost color. Even with preservation, they were fleeting.

autumn leaf of barbed wire

Ready to blow away

Now, in the autumn, my eyes still often fall on the carpet at my feet, and I gather leaves, even though it’s been a few years since I preserved them in wax (last with my daughter a few years ago). Even my husband will bring me a few choice specimens he spots on the way home from work, opening and closing the cattle gate. One year, I tried to preserve autumn leaves between sheets of clear laminate; that worked well, although it didn’t look as natural. I eventually used the laminated leaves as gift tags.

Of course, you can also simply take photos of them, and frame them up.

autumn maple

I can’t stop taking photos, honestly.

But on a recent hike, my eye was caught by the shapes of the leaves at my feet, and something struck me.

I came home with a bundle of beautiful leaves, including some other autumn findings I thought I could use. I laid them out and arranged them.

Artsy way to preserve autumn leaves

Hello My Pet Chicken logo. This composition consists of an aspen leaf, a maple leaf, part of an autumn olive leaf, rose hips, horse chestnut berries and honeysuckle berries

So,  you can preserve autumn leaves like this: make pictures, make animals, make landscapes with them. Make what you love. Take photos of your pictures, and frame and hang them (or post them to Instagram or Facebook).

While the above arrangement doesn’t really show the grace and beauty of the fall show, we’re already at the end of leaf season in my area, so my choices are fairly limited. Still, next autumn, I’ll be ready to make some art with my ideas.

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