Keeping the colors of fall

Crafts: Here's how to dry autumn leaves and preserve their brilliant hues.

In The Garden

November 04, 2001|By Megan Sexton | Megan Sexton,Knight Ridder / Tribune

Now's the time to take a walk through the woods or the neighborhood looking for the best this season has to offer -- leaves.

Take the kids or the dog, or go on a leaf hunt by yourself. Choose a sunny day for your walk, and collect only dry leaves.

Look for variety in color, shape and size. Try to find leaves without too many imperfections because those will stand out when the leaves are dry.

Then make the memories last by preserving your favorites and showing them off all year round.

Here's some information on ways to find and preserve your leaves, offered by newengland. com and other sources. The key to keeping fall colors vivid is to dry the leaves as soon as possible.

When you get home, place each leaf between layers of paper towels.

Put the leaf and the paper between the pages of a large book. Keep at least 10 pages between leaves.

Stack at least 5 pounds of pressure (a handful of books) on top, and let them sit for at least 10 days. You can change the paper after a few days.

After the leaves have dried, it's time to display them. There are dozens of options.

Several types and colors of leaves can be framed together in a basic frame. You also can mount and mat a single leaf in each frame and group the frames for a display.

Along with drying in a book, here are several other ways to dry leaves.

Ironing. Place the x leaves between two pieces of waxed paper and press the paper with a medium hot iron on each side. New pieces of paper must by used for each pressing.

While the leaf is still warm, peel off the paper. This thin coating of wax will nicely preserve your autumn color.

Or you can cut out the leaves, leaving a narrow margin of wax paper around the leaf edge.

Silica gel (dry crystals). Follow the instructions on the container carefully, and the brilliant color shouldn't fade. Keep the leaves out of direct sunlight in a cool, dry place. High humidity can make them turn powdery.

Microwave oven. Take separate leaves or small twigs and place them in the microwave between sheets of paper towels.

Turn on the oven for 30 to 180 seconds. The drier the leaves, the less time they will need.

Pay attention to the leaves. Ones that curl after removal have not been dried enough. Leaves that scorch were left in too long.

Let the leaves dry for a day or two; then you can finish them with a sealant such as an acrylic craft spray.

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