Waxing Leaves to Preserve Them, and What I Learned

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.”    ~Emily Bronte

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THIS part of Autumn is much too brief isn’t it.

 

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Then this happens!

I wanted an alternative to my daily gathering branches of colored leaves for the kitchen table, as they shriveled by the next day. Instead of spending three-four days soaking leaves in glycerine (I’m a one-day-length project type person), choosing to spend a few minutes to wax some leaves before they turned all brown seemed worth it.

 

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It happened over newspaper; with wax melted over a double boiler, and a too-small of a container with cold water to set the wax quickly.

 

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The clothespin saved my fingers on the leaves with stumpy petioles (the “stem” part), and it only took a second to dip and drip.

 

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It worked!

Kind of.

Here’s what I ran into:

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If the wax is too hot it took the red right out of the Aspen leaves! That was weird. (The anthocyanins?)

And too cool a temperature left the leaves with a milky finish.

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If the leaves were picked off the tree instead of off the ground, they had too much moisture in them, so they ended up turning brown within the next couple of days. They would also discolor if the wax didn’t cover the leaf completely, or if the wax cracked, allowing oxygen in.

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If mishandled, waxed leaves would crumple.

The Key?

  • Heating the wax to 138 degrees is ideal
  • Choose leaves already on the ground. (If off the tree, press to dry them for a few days first, or maybe iron them between parchment with a slightly warm iron?)
  • I haven’t tried it yet, but apparently adding turpentine to the wax may make it more pliable. (hmmm. I’m a bit late, but if I could get more leaves…I may experiment with olive oil and/or glycerine in the wax too. We’ll see.)

 

 

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Never-the-less I am pleased with these shiny specimens, as there ARE a few splashes of color in my home now, and that just makes me smile. It’ll be interesting to see how long they last, and even if it’s just a short time…it was worth the experiment.

(And I also found out that some flowers may also be waxed.)

 

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“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

 

 

Posted: Kainsonthecreek.wordpress.com October 18,2015

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