Preserving Fall Leaves

If you have ever experienced New Hampshire's fall foliage season, you have most likely lost control of yourself and started collecting leaves at one point or another. If you employ some of the following preserving techniques, you can hold on to your prized collection of leaves until well after the trees are bare and ground frozen.

The most common way is first to find a big book, preferably something unimportant like a phone book, since doing this may ruin the pages. If your leaves are wet to the touch, wipe them dry since putting in wet leaves increases the odds of just getting green fuzzy moldy leaves. Place the dry leaves between two paper towels and insert in the book.  Keep the leaves in the book for at least 3 day, longer for larger or moister leaves. You may want to carefully replace the paper towels after the first day.

Another well known method is to take your leaf and stick it between two pieces of wax paper. Cover with an old towel, cloth or piece of paper and use an iron set to low heat to seal the two pieces of wax paper together. Avoid scorching the leaf by keeping the iron moving at all times. Allow it to cool at first and then carefully trim around your leaf. Be sure to leave a narrow margin around the leaf so the paper stays sealed.  You can also quickly and carefully remove the leaf from between the sheets before it cools. If enough wax was successfully transferred to the leaf, it will remain preserved so long as it's not bent or messed around with.

Another method involves making a solution of glycerin and water. Use twice as much water as you do glycerin and pour into a flat pan.  You will need just enough to completely cover your leaves with the solution. If your leaves float, you will have to weight them down. The length of the soak time varies.  Some folks report good success with as little as two days while others insist on five. In my experience, I chose the middle ground of 3 days and it worked great. If you leave them in too long, they will start to turn brown.  The leaves slowly absorb the solution, which makes them flexible.

You can dry leaves in the microwave by laying them between two paper towels. If possible, you'll want to set your microwave's power setting to medium or low, or run it in short bursts of about 20 seconds until leaf is dry. You'll want to keep a close eye on them to prevent over heating, or a fiery inferno. Once dry, spray with an acrylic spray.

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