Thursday, October 27, 2011

Leafy Garland

I’ve been pretty good about walking my dog, Max, lately.  I think that he appreciates it…although he poor guy gets so excited when I put on my rain boots and sweatshirt that the one day when I left for work dressed like that, he wanted to go with me!  :( Poor guy!

Anyway, the neighborhood where we walk is just covered in red, and yellow, and orange leaves.  They. Are. Gorgeous!  Each leaf is juuuust a little different than the next (kind of like snowflakes?), so every 2 min, I’m bending over to pick up another, and Max is just staring at me like “sheesh mom, will you cut it OUT already?!”

I can’t remember where I found it, but I have heard that if you coat leaves in wax, they will keep their color.  I was really curious about this, so Sunday night, I decided that I would finally try it out! 

NOTE #1:  You pretty much have to wax the leaves the same day that you collect them.  I actually attempted to do this at least 3 different times before I succeeded because I kept forgetting about the leaves, then they would dry out, or turn brown.  As a side note to this note, if your leaves dry out, putting them in a bowl full of water will not revive them haha.  All you will end up with is umm…leaf soup.  And it smells.  Gross!

I had bought some big blocks of wax last year when I made a few candles.  OK, “some” should be more like “50 lbs”…because that is definitely more accurate (hey! they were on sale!).  I basically dragged a block out the kitchen, and used a screwdriver and hammer to carve some off.  Since you’re not supposed to melt wax in a pan that’s sitting directly on your heat source, I set up a large frying pan of water on the stove, with a smaller frying pan (lined with aluminum foil) floating inside.  Annnnd, I used a toothpaste box to keep their handles spaced somewhat evenly. 

From previous experience, wax is a pain in the booty to get off your pans once it’s cooled, so I guess that your best bet would be to use an old pan that you don’t care about.  This is what I did last year, but I couldn’t find my old pan, so I made a liner out of aluminum foil liner and it actually worked pretty well. 

So, the process went like this: turn on burner, heat up water, heat up little pan, melt wax, stir…repeat until you have enough melted wax to cover your leaves with.  Then take a leaf and dip it in the melted wax. I kind of swirled it around to make sure that the whole leaf got covered.  I didn’t bother waxing the stem.  Then take the leaf out and kind of shake it to get the excess wax off, and then set it on a piece of wax paper or aluminum foil to harden.  They harden quickly!

If you wanted your leaves to be flat, you could probably press them between some books before you wax them.  I kinda wanted the curvy texture though, so I just let them be free :)

So since the leaves are covered in wax, you can’t use a glue gun to glue them to anything, because the glue won’t stick (bummer!).   I ended up stringing my leaves with a needle and thread (through one of the veins to avoid tearing anything) and making a little garland for the front door. 

The letter “A” (For awesome!  Kidding!  It’s the first letter of my last name) was cut out of piece of cardboard, and then covered in a scrap piece of fabric that I had on hand.  Then, I attached a few baby leaves on the one corner using a needle and thread over the stem of the leaves.  This actually worked well because the thread didn’t want to just slide through the thick cardboard, so I could make sure that the leaves were attached snugly.  You could probably do a whole wreath this way…hmmm…future project idea?

It’s been a few days since I did this project, and the leaves seem to be holding their red colors fairly well.  I had a few leaves with green and yellow veins in them, and those parts seem to have faded (bummer!).  The red leaves look really nice though!  The wax definitely helps hold some of the color in.

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