Sep 20, 2011

Collecting Leaves

Fall is upon us.

Which means all those beautiful autumn leaves are about to fall upon us.  Now is the time to start collecting them.

Collecting and Pressing Leaves
Collecting leaves is a great way to gain experience at identifying trees. Prior to having apps to do such things, actual field work used to be the norm. Before you start gathering leaves be sure to familiarise yourself with Poison Ivy. "Leaves of three, let them be."

When selecting leaves for your collection, avoid any that have been damaged by insects, weather, or disease. It is best to collect a twig with a bud and all of it's leaves on a stem. Make sure the entire leaf is collected. Good leaf collections include the twig with a lateral or terminal bud.

As you collect, leaves may be stored between the pages of a magazine, phone book or a field guide. They should be handled with care while being transported to their final drying place.

It will take about a week to dry a leaf, depending on it's size. The best method for drying is with a leaf press. If a leaf press is not available you can layer individual leaves between pieces of newspaper. Do not dry leaves between pages of books because the moisture from the leaf will damage the paper.

After the leaf is dry add your identification tag. (If you were prepared you would have taken notes while gathering your leaves.) Your identification tag should include; common name, scientific name, collection date, location, description and your name. Dried leaves may be preserved by pressing between waxed paper.

Then what?

Pressed Leaf Craft and Display Ideas
I found so many craft ideas for dried or pressed leaves. Most of them were for the 5 year old demographic. I was able to find a few leaf projects with class. The most common answer being "pressed flower wall art." With a nice slideshow at Country Living and a more ornate pressed leaf butterfly project from our friends at Martha Stewart. I also found leaf wrapped votives over at and Martha gives us a great idea of wax dipping our leaves and displaying them in a window. Or without pressing and drying your leaves, you can create leaf prints, smoke prints or skeleton leaves.

Collected Leaf Art
Oh the amazing possibilities of leaf art.

British born Andy Goldsworthy makes stunning environmental sculptures, many involving leaves.

Lorenzo Duran is making detailed leaf cuts. 

And Jenny Lee Fowler is creating beautiful custom leaf silhouette portraits.

Fall for Fall.

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