Tuesday, October 6, 2009

All waxed up with no where to go...

I grew up in the dusty flat plains of West Texas. Fall color was found in a myriad of browns and pale honey colors, and even though the temperature had dropped, the 90degree fall temperatures were still too much for mums, kale, and pansies. Pumpkins were a novelty, and my mother wouldn't allow us to carve our jackolanterns until the night before Halloween - seeing as how the heat of the day would quickly ruin an otherwise postured gourd.

So when I moved to NY with Scott, and experienced my first fall season 9-months later, it was almost like opening the pages to a book I had never read before. I devoured it. I spent hours outside, collecting leaves, taking pictures, enjoying the cool, crisp air, and calling everyone I knew in Texas to tell them that Fall in NY was like heaven on earth. Do you agree?

The colors are so vibrant, so pure, so inspiring. The warm russets, oranges, red, and purples are all hues of a rich palette perfect for design. The best part, these photos were taken literal steps from my own front door. Soon though, the leaves fall, and the snow comes. Leaving bare trees, and exhausted snow covered limbs. It hardly seems fair that we can only experience this beauty once a year. So I went leaf collecting, as I do most Fall seasons, only this time with a different intention: to make fall last for as long as I deemed appropriate. How? A waxed leaf fall display:
I started out with a bag, gloves, and a camera. I knew that I wanted to concentrate on colors that had red, orange, and yellow hues ... with different leaf shapes and textures. I did a little google homework and found that I needed the following tools:

  1. An iron (to quickly press and dry the leaves - skipping the days of waiting for them to "press" between the pages of a phonebook or encyclopedia!)
  2. (2) pieces of newspaper to sandwich the leaves between while ironing
  3. A kitchen towel, or cloth napkin (to keep the paper from beginning to burn)
  4. Of course - leaves, tons and tons of leaves.

You start out by placing your collected leaves face down on the newsprint. Then, place the second piece of newsprint over the leaves, follow with a napkin or towel, and iron on the highest setting over the entire paper for about 5-10seconds on each leaf. After a few minutes, you'll have beautifully dried and pressed leaves.

On a side note, dried in this fashion, the leaves tend to have a heavier coloring - so if you're attracted to the brighter oranges and reds (like the leaf below to the left) you may want to consider pressing the leaf between the pages of a heavy book:

(Leaves: LEFT; unpressed leaf as collected from the tree. RIGHT; Iron pressed leaf, dried in just 30seconds.) Once you have a nice collection of pressed leaves - it's time to make your way into the kitchen. For this step in the process you'll need:
  1. A pot of water, placed on the burner at medium heat
  2. An aluminum pie plate with a lip that will fit over your pot
  3. A cookie sheet topped with tin foil
  4. (1) square of paraffin wax. (I purchased this box of 4 squares for $2.99 in the canning section of my grocery store!)

Take each leaf by the stem with a pair of tweezers, and lightly dip both sides into the melted paraffin wax. Pull the leaf out of the wax, and let excess wax drip back into the pie pan (5-10 seconds) then lay leaf flat on the tin foil. Continue until all of the leaves have been waxed in this manner.

Once you have waxed all of the leaves, you can re-wax them, this time holding the leaf and dipping the stem into the wax. (This isn't necessary if you'll be cutting the stem off for your arrangement.)

From there, to create the wreath, you'll need:

  1. A wreath form: this one came from Dollar Tree!
  2. A glue gun
  3. Plenty of glue sticks
  4. Other dried naturals as desired
Begin layering on the leaves one by one, covering a piece of the last glued with the next until you have completely covered the top of the ring with the waxed leaves. (Aren't these beautiful?)

Then, turn the wreath over and cover the back - facing the tip of the leaves into the center of the wreath form. Make sure to cover all of the surfaces of the wreath, including the sides.
Curious to see how it turned out? Come back Thursday for the reveal - and a delightful fall giveaway!


  1. as a Texas I can say this is beautiful - never saw anything like this!!

  2. How clever -- I will definitely have to try this when my leaves turn a little later in October.

    We can't carve our pumpkins here either until right before Halloween but we do get the beautiful leaf color you get in New York.

    Fall is a beautiful time of the year.

  3. Ingenious!

    And no...there is nothing quite like an Upstate NY Fall! Iwent to HS and University in Syracuse and Rochester! Beautiful!

  4. You're making me homesick for NF!!!
    We used to do that as kids,but we just ironed the leaves between 2 sheets of wax paper.
    Thanks for the reminder of fall in NF.

  5. I just arrived at your blog thanks to Joni. It is wonderful!!! So inspiring.

  6. This is beautiful! Can't wait to see the finished product.

  7. HI Artieness! You're the most creative one! I've never seen this before!
    Now I lived in Odessa, Texas - very very West Texas for quite a few years. Yucky! I agree, your Fallness is gorgeous. Wish I could see some of that!
    Even hear on the Texas Gulf Coast it's 90 something degrees and with the high humidity feels like 110' - that's what the weatherman said. Not very pleasant!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  8. You are so creative! The 5 years we lived in Texas were nice but I have Ozark blood and NEED the changing seasons. I love your blog and all of your wonderful decorating ideas...
    joy c. at grannymountain

  9. You're a tease...I'll be back to see the finished product...looks lovely!

  10. I was fascinated by the procedure and then found I had to wait for the reveal!! What a tease you are. Well, I have time to collect leaves before Thursday!!

    Excellent post. How do you like our snow?

    Jane (from Chicago but the same weather as NY!)

  11. What a great tutorial! I just have to wait a bit for our leaves to turn. It's sunny and warmer now on the High Desert!

  12. We're a bit behind you Artie, but I am so bookmarking this page! Fabulous! I will definitely be back to check this out. ~ Robyn

  13. Just beautiful Artie, I so miss the colors that you get in the East in the Fall. I'll just have to be content with frost on my oranges! xo kelley

  14. Beautiful! Thanks for stopping by Double Delight and leaving my first comment from a male (husband excluded, of course!)
    I will definitely be back to check out the finished product. Your photographs are stunning.

  15. thank you so much for visiting my blog and your comment! stunning photography on your blog, I'll be back to check on the wreath and some "real" fall colors - it was nasty and humid in the 90s in Houston area today

  16. Being from MI, I dried many a leaf but I've never waxed them before. Your maple leaves are so perfect and I can see the wreath is going to be gorgeous!

    How long do the waxed leaves fade at all?

  17. I'm originally from England and now live in central Texas, my a/c is still on today, so, yeah I know what you mean about the fall here! BUT, I lived near Baltimore for 6 years and oh my gosh how I loved the Fall there. I still miss it when this time of year roles around. I love your pictures.
    Thanks for your lovely comments about my knitting. It does take practice but I started very young ;) I'm knitting a little scarf right now... and will be having a give-away soon (but shhh, no one knows yet!) you can follow my blog if you don'twant to miss it!

  18. What stunning photographs! The fall is just beautiful. Funny, I was just outside today taking pictures of my perennial beds since we finally got some rain in Texas and everything is blooming! My first visit to your blog and it is great - I will be back!

  19. I really do love fall! These are wonderful photos. Your idea on pressing the leaves is great --- and so fast. I used to just press them in phone books, but I love this idea.

  20. Your Fall pictures are amazing, Artie! I cant wait to see the finished wreath. What a clever process, very interesting!...Christine

  21. Your Fall pictures are amazing, Artie! I cant wait to see the finished wreath. What a clever process, very interesting!...Christine

  22. Great photos. Thanks for the tutorial on drying leaves. I have not dried them in years - may have to do some this year. Thank for visiting. The design on the white pumpkin is a rubon - got them at Hobby Lobby.

  23. The leaves are gorgeous. We've had cooler weather, but no color yet here in Charlotte.

  24. You are making me jealous for the North; I grew up in CT and VT. However the mountains of NC are also very beautiful....I live in SC near the coast and the change is not nearly the same!! I remember as a kid, pressing leaves!! I am thinking we may have used wax paper , but my memory is failing!! And you have the audacity to make us wait!

  25. Now that is so wrong! LOL! Teasing us...I really wanted to see how the wreath turned out! ...and the burlap piece being ironed really has my interest piqued! Can't wait to see the "wreath reveal!" :)

    This was a beautifully written post, very poetic! And the leaves of NY are gorgeous! Great pictures! ~Rhonda

  26. Oh, and thanks for the tutorial on waxing the leaves! I will have to try them! Very clever! :)

  27. You brought back memories of doing the waxed leaves! Why on earth had I forgotten this wonderful idea? This weekend's schedule now includes a little waxing and I'm not even going to the salon! LOL

    Have a wonderful day!

    P.s. Beautiful pictures!

  28. Great tutorial and very pretty scenery.

  29. Holy cow, how did you even come up with this idea of waxing leaves? I've never heard of it, but now I love it! Ooh, I cannot wait to see how it turned out!!! Brilliant, Artie!

    Justine :o )

  30. What beautiful fall photography! I can see that you're in autumn heaven in New York. We've just returned from a week in New Mexico where the yellow aspens are glorious in the sunshine. Your waxed leaves should be keepers for years to come. Fieldstone/Pam

  31. Beautiful photos and the wreath is looking good I will be back
    thanks for your comments on my blog :)

  32. Ah, yes, Fall is one of my favorite seasons.
    Love to the ride the back country roads, take in the colors, the smell of pine needles.

    Your wreath creation is very cool!

    Have you ever tried drying leaves and framing them?
    Makes a nice wall hanging.

    Mary Jane

  33. This so beautiful, what a neat creation. Enjoyed visiting your blog, will be back soon. :)

  34. Just beautiful Artie we need to go walking in the gorge soon. your pictures are very nice it is hard to believe that is are back yard. lovely, lovely

    kiss' kiss Dot

  35. Well I've never experienced a Texas fall but I'm not sure I'd want to. Autumn is my favorite time of the whole year and it wouldn't be the same without the chill, the brightly colored leaves and the smell of the air. I can't imagine it any other way. We're in eastern PA and having weather similar to yours. Enjoy the season!

  36. Breathtaking photos and a wonderful tutorial. Our leaves are just beginning to change. We pressed leaves with an iron and waxed paper when I was little, This is a must do for this year. Thanks, Pam

  37. Thanks for all of the steps and I love how it turned out!

  38. Beautiful pictures and what a great tutorial! So glad I found your blog. Thank you!

  39. Those leaves are amazing! I love how you dip them in wax. Never seen this! I will feature this in somedaycrafts.blogspot.com Grab my 'featured' button.

  40. What a fabulous idea. I can't wait to try it. Thanks so much for the wonderful directions.

    - The Tablescaper

  41. Hi!
    You have a very nice blogg with a beautiful pictures on it.

    Ja Autumn it´s lovely love autumn season too with all candleslight pumpkins and most beautiful is the different color changes of the trees.

    Thanks for your visit appreciate it very much.

  42. LOVE your post abut preserving the colors of the fall leaves ! Wonderful indeed. i mentioned your blog and added a link to your post in my latest post (oct. 4 ) I am a new follower and a fellow nature lover !

    - KAT -

  43. Is there any other ways to preserve leaves without wax paper