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There are several ways to preserve those beautiful autumn leaves in your
yard; here are directions for three popular ones. You'll need up to a week to use these different preserving
methods. Adult supervision recommended.
Glycerin One method is to put them into a glycerin/water
solution. This will preserve your leaves yet leave them relatively
flexible. This preserving method works because the natural moisture
present in the leaves is replaced by the glycerin solution, maintaining the
leaf's texture and form.
- Flat pan or disposable plates
- A weight or something to keep leaves submerged
- Mix the glycerin and water so that it is one part glycerin and two parts
water. You only need enough to submerge the leaves - about one cup.
- Pour the solution
into a flat pan, place the leaves in the solution, and then put the weight on the
leaves to keep them submerged. (Tip: try using two Styrofoam or other
disposable plates. Put leaves and enough glycerin solution to just lightly
cover the leaves in the bottom of one plate. Then put the other plate on top
of the leaves and solution. Now you can put a weight of your choosing on
the top plate without getting the weight in the solution.)
- Keep the leaves submerged in the solution for 2-6 days.
- Dry the leaves gently with a paper towel. They should feel
soft and pliable.
Wax Paper Pressing One of the most common ways to preserve leaves is
by pressing them between wax paper.
- Wax paper
- Thin towel or paper
- Ironing board
- Place a leaf between two pieces of wax paper.
- Put a towel or a piece of thick paper over the wax paper.
- Press on the towel or paper with a warm iron to seal the wax sheets together.
This takes about 2-5 minutes on each side, depending on how moist the leaf is.
Once you have finished one side, flip the leaf over and do the other side.
- Cut around the leaf, leaving a small margin of wax paper to
ensure that it will stay sealed.
- Rather than cutting out the leaves, you may want to try to peel the wax
paper off the leaves, leaving a coat of wax behind to protect the leaves.
Try this on one leaf first to see if this method works for you.
Microwave Thanks to everyday technology, there is another way to preserve
autumn leaves. This method requires using a microwave.
- Fresh leaves that have not dried out
- Paper towels
- Acrylic spray from a craft store
- Arrange the leaves on top of two paper towels. Lay another towel
over the leaves to cover them.
- Microwave the leaves for 30-180 seconds. Be very attentive and
careful. Leaves that are cooked in the microwave too long can catch
fire. The drier the leaves, the less time they will need. Leaves
that curl after removal from the microwave have not been in long enough.
Leaves that are scorched have been in there too long. Only dry them for a few
seconds at a time.
- Let the leaves sit for a day or two and then finish by spraying an acrylic
sealant on both sides of the leaves.
Compare the texture and color of the leaves after using the different
preserving methods. Did one method work well for a particular tree species, but
another method work better for a different tree species? What do you conclude about what happens to the leaves
during the different preserving processes? If you'd like, use a
tree identification guide for help identify
the leaves of different species.
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