Make Like a Tree and Leave

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Maryn

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As autumn approaches its peak here, I thought it the right time to share a method of preserving autumn leaves. Their color darkens very slightly--think an oil-based stain on a faded T-shirt--but they remain lovely and look great scattered across a mantel or autumn-themed table.

Mix two parts water to one part glycerine, usually found in the drugstore’s skin-care section, and bring it to a boil. Pour it into a heat-proof plastic container. (I've used Rubbermaid and Tupperware containers. What you don't want to use is a disposable container from a grocery store's deli or produce departments. They melt.)

Drop in brightly colored leaves and gently submerge them with a wooden spoon. Keep the container in a cool, dark place until you see a slight change in the leaves’ tints. Remove them and blot dry with paper towels. This will preserve the color (almost) and keep them from crumbling for several months.

Maryn, seeing mostly green, some yellow and very little red so far
 

Marlys

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Thanks--sounds very cool! I even have some glycerin around somewhere, from an earlier project.

Now, I just have to wait for my leaves to turn...
 

wotcherH

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Wow, this actually sounds awesome. Don't have any glycerin around the house, though.
 

Maryn

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Someone online discussing another craft which required glycerin says it's the main ingredient in baby oil, so if you can stand the scent (or can find it scent-free) that might be worth a try.

It's weird, our front yard is at peak, all the trees either yellow or orange, but out the back, all I see is green. Different kinds of trees, obviously, but at a glance it looks like summer.

Maryn, who should scoop up some leaves
 

Aleiarity

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Baby oil is usually mineral oil, I think.


Walmart carries glycerin, as do a lot of health food stores. It's a natural byproduct of soap making (home made soap leaves the glycerin in, which is why it's not as drying as commercial soap - often commercial soap removes the glycerin and then sells it back to you in lotions). I love keeping it around the house, and I use a couple drops on my face after washing, before I add any other moisturizer. It helps keep skin hydrated (since it's hygroscopic and pulls in moisture from the air).
 

Raventongue

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Glycerin can also be used to preserve a flower more or less permanently. Just trim the stem and stand it in glycerin like water, wait a while, and presto!
 

Maryn

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How long a while? I have some pretty nice false asters blooming despite my black thumb, and I'd love to save a few. That presumes you don't have to leave them in glycerin forever, of course.
 

Maryn

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I'd lief believe that if it made a sensible play on words. ;)

Yesterday when I was bringing in the mail, a golden birch leaf drifted onto the walk in front of my feet. What happened to summer?

Maryn, who was cold last night
 

blacbird

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As an aside, New England is justly famous for its displays of autumn color. Less well known, but equally good is the upper Mississippi valley region of Iowa/Wisconsin/Minnesota. Wooded region dominated by maples and oaks. Anyone traveling through that area in October gets treated to fabulous scenery.

caw
 

Maryn

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That reminds me of a long drive and a hot hike to Lost Maples Park in Texas, where there were, as I recall it, five or six maple trees in autumn color. I also remember hiking back in semi-darkness, which was not fun.

Maryn, who today would be better prepared
 

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