Monday, November 19, 2012

Autumn leaves, spicy colors!

Terry Grant, here. On my walk yesterday I gathered a handful of leaves to dry for my Thanksgiving table. I knew it was the last day before a long rainy spell and if I did not get them now, they would soon be brown and slimy. But yesterday the colors were so bright they almost did not look real.

I have done this for years. I never tire of their beautiful spicy colors! The easiest way to dry them is to press them in a phone book (one of the many useless books left regularly on our doorstep!) If you get some smaller sized books, as I do, they fit nicely in the microwave, where the quick dry takes place.

Arrange them so they don't overlap. Flip a few pages over and arrange more until you've used up all the leaves. Then stick it in your microwave oven. If the book is pretty full I set a heavy dish on top to weigh it down.

Microwave on high for about a minute and check one of the pages. The leaves should be warm and still flexible. If they seem quite moist, give them another minute or so. Take the book out of the oven and let it sit until the pages are cool. Be careful not to cook the leaves! If you can smell them they are cooking.

Years ago I read an article about glazing dried leaves using floor cleaner/shiner, like Mop and Glow, which leaves a nice shine that brightens the colors. I still use it, though I have heard of using acrylic medium or spray finish. I just moisten a paper towel with the floor cleaner and smooth a thin layer back and front of each leaf. It just takes a small amount. If you get it too wet, the stuff just beads up on the leaf and dries in spots.

Spread the leaves on a sheet of waxed paper to dry. Some may curl a little, which is usually fine for me, but you can put them back in the phone book overnight for flatter leaves. 

So pretty! I scatter them on my table. You can glue them in a sketchbook as well. I have even glued them to fabric and covered with gel medium to use in artwork. The colors do fade over time.

While the bright-colored leaves are the most eye catching, I am partial to some of the deeper colored, more complex colors.

I like to take a few and tuck them into favorite books. They last for years out of the light and are always a lovely surprise to find inside one of my books months later.


  1. What a wonderful way to preserve your autumn leaves! They are beautiful! Thanks for sharing your process...

  2. I love collecting autumn leaves! I also use an old telephone book to dry and press the leaves, but had never thought of using the microwave. And I love the idea of using floor cleaner to finish them. I'm going to try that soon. Thanks for the tips!

  3. I have a funny story about going to New York and Conneticut to gather fall leaves and hearing I needed to soak them in mineral oil to preserve so I had baggies in my suitcase and a bottle of mineral oil. Everyday I collected and processed in my hotel room at night. It was quite the project in our hotel bathroom which I was sharing with my mom and sister! They lasted for years but I like your method better!

  4. Great project! so timely with the colors!

  5. Terry, check out what I did with leaves gathered on a walk: :-)

  6. Thank you for this very interesting tip! Happy Thanksgiving.

  7. Thank you for the info, I tried to press a beautiful yellow horse chestnut leaf into my sketchbook after I drew it, but it turned brown. This sounds wonderful! Your leaves are beautiful!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.