Here at WhatShed we love the autumn. It really is one of the most beautiful and dare we say magical times of the year the leaves and flowers for a very short while have an extra special look to them. A look that some of us wish we could keep longer than nature allows. Well, there are many people out there who do actually like to preserve their favourite leaves and flowers so they can enjoy them all year round and that is what we are looking at today.
Why Do Leaves Change Colour?
You are probably expecting us to put on the lab coats here, push our glasses up to the top of our nose and give you a very long winded and scientific answer. But honestly, it is quite simple. Basically, leaves are nice and green due to chlorophyll. As the season begins to change, the trees will start to get ready for this and will actually prepare for there being less sun, thus them having less food! This starts the process of the leaves drying out which is part of what gives us these lovely colours. Leaves are made green by photosynthesis, but as during this time of year, glucose is trapped in the leaves, photosynthesis does not happen.
If you want to see just how simple this process is, you can do so with this video.Yes, this is a science video for kids, but it breaks it down very quickly why the leaves change colour.
How Do I Preserve The Leaves And Flowers I Like?
The good news here is that it is actually very easy to do. We are looking at the two most common ways of preserving leaves and flowers. We would recommend that you have a good stockpile of leaves for this. One of these methods is with wax paper and the other is with glycerine.
What You Need:
2 heavy books
Step 1: Place the leaf you like in between two pieces of wax paper.
Step 2: Place them between the two heavy books and leave for a week. This allows the leaf to get dried out and be really flattened.
Step 3: Using the iron on the lowest setting. Iron the wax paper so that it seals. Make sure there is no air inside it and do not worry if it clouds over at first, this will go away.
Step 4: Once the wax paper dries, you will see the colours really pop out. You can leave the leaf in here or you can cut them out.
What You Need:
Glycerine (this is actually very easy to find. Most supermarkets will have this as will craft stores. It is not very expensive either which is a nice bonus)
Two pans that are flat
Step 1: You need to make your mixture. This is one part glycerine and two parts water. Just mix it up in your bowl. It is very easy to do.
Step 2: Using one of your pans, lay down a couple (or as many as you can spread out in your pan) of leaves. Next, pour in your glycerine mixture. You want to make sure the leaves are fully submerged and that every part of them has glycerine on it.
Step 3: Next you need to use the second pan and with this, you gently place it on top of the leaves that are in the other pan and covered in the mixture. You want this to weigh down the leaves so if it is not heavy enough, put a little something inside it (a salt shaker for example) to give it a little bit more weight.
Step 4: Now you play the waiting game! Let the leaves sit in the solution for 3 to 4 days, until they are soft and quite supple.
Step 5: Once you remove them from their glycerine spa. Place them between paper towels and gently pat them dry.
What Can I Do With Them Once They Are Preserved?
Well, that is really up to you. Some people like to just collect them and have them in a book. Others like to be a bit more creative and make some cool stuff with them. You can make a centerpiece for the table, some artwork, give them to the kids to make things with. There are just so many different things that you can do with these lovely autumn leaves. But we do think that saving a couple of the really nice ones in a book or even a frame is a good idea.
To give you an idea of some of the fun things that you can do with preserved leaves (and flowers) have a look at this YouTube video this is especially good if you have kids and are looking for something fun and creative for them to do.