Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fall Color

It's November and we have a had a remarkably lovely and colorful autumn. We haven't had much rain (for Portland) so the leaves haven't been knocked off the trees and turned to mush. Do you ever find yourself wishing you could save those leaves and continue to enjoy the gorgeous colors? As it turns out, you can. All it takes is a box of paraffin--or beeswax, if you have deep pockets.

We took a walk around the neighborhood today and gathered a basket of local color along with acorns and pine cones. We looked for bright leaves in good condition, ideally neither damaged nor soggy. I like to collect a varied assortment of leaf shapes, sizes and colors. Make sure all your leaves have stems. 

As soon as possible after collecting your leaves, set up a double boiler with the smaller pot being one that you won't use for cooking. Thrift store pots are great for melting wax. You don't want direct heat while melting wax as it could scorch or even ignite which would surely take the fun out of things. Just make sure the pot that holds the melted wax is wide enough to fit your leaves. Add 8 ounces of wax and heat until melted. Set up a baking sheet nearby and line it with waxed paper or baking parchment.

Brush any moisture and/or debris off the leaves and dip, one by one, into the melted wax, carefully holding the stem. Make sure each leaf is thoroughly submerged in the melted wax and then lift it out, gently twirling to remove excess wax. Carefully set each waxed leaf on the baking sheet, spacing them so that they don't touch. They will cool and dry fairly quickly but don't move them until thoroughly cooled.

Once cooled, gently move each leaf off the baking sheet, peeling away the waxed paper if necessary. What you don't want is for the wax to crack. As long as the wax remains sealed around the leaves they will keep their color and you can use the however you like. I think they make fantastic table decorations and mine are carefully tracked away in tins until I set our Thanksgiving table in a few weeks.

Eventually they will start to crack and degrade and,  at the point when they are no longer lovely, they make great fire starters.
Last year's Thanksgiving table:  waxed leaves + rose pretty in a late fall kind of way.
Last year's Thanksgiving table:  waxed  leaves, rose hips, and beeswax candles. 

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