Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fall Leaves

In my ever-present quest to keep my kids happy and occupied while I go about my business, I discovered that you can preserve fall leaves with Mod Podge. Not sure where I originally came across this, but I thought, "Hey, don't I have a 3/4 full jar of Mod Podge I've been holding on to for 15 years in case I ever wanted to use it again?" Sure enough.

Oooh, bilateral coordination!

Such a great activity. Maggie surpassed her typical attention span for craft activities, and even Leo got in on the action by helping carry and fill the "leaf collecting basket" when we headed our for our walks.

Here's what I learned about the process:
1. You want fresh leaves that don't crackle. Otherwise, they'll fall to pieces when you try to paint them.

2. Do this outside but not on a windy day.

3. Try drying them on parchment paper or waxed paper instead of newspaper. They'll stick to newspaper as they dry and bits of the paper will stick to the leaves. Also, lift them periodically as they dry so they don't stick.

4. Don't choose a hot, humid day to do something crafty with your preserved leaves.
We worked on these for a week or so until the Mod Podge was gone and we had an overabundance of preserved leaves. What to do with them?

Stuff them into vases on your mantel.

Scatter them on your mantel.

Tape them to your basement door below the family tree to add a touch of fall.

Make a leaf bouquet.

Pretty good, huh? But here's my favorite idea of all: sew them into a garland. This is where the low humidity is important. I tried this on a hot day and the leaves stuck to the presser foot of my machine. I had to turn the fan on in the room and let them re-dry for another few hours before I could finish the project.

Using tissue paper as backing

The first time I tried this, I sewed the leaves together with a backing of tissue paper strips. It's easy enough to tear off once you're done. Later, I decided this was not really necessary. The leaves are pretty tough once they're coated with the Mod Podge, and the sewing machine needle handles them as well as it does cloth (so long as they're dry). I overlapped each leaf slightly as I sent it through the machine, but you could have a gap of stitches if you liked that look better. Also, I used my sewing machine, but if you were really motivated, I think this could be done by hand. I'd just use really long stitches.

Here are a few photos of the final product.

I don't think they really do it justice. The leaves are all different colors, and the light shines through them beautifully. I just don't know how to take a quality photo of a window.

I had one little strip of garland left, and that went back on the mantel.

I'm done with the MP/leaf combo for the season, but what else might I have done with them? Ideas?


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