So, we had a bit of a travesty in the yard….
I live in Pennsylvania and if you know anything about the area, you know that the deer are crazed this time of year. An out of its mind buck, shredded my magnolia tree, ripping the branches right off. But that’s OK, glass half full, am I right? Also being in Pennsylvania, now’s a great time for collecting and drying what falls from the trees.
As unhappy as I was about the tree (and a little nervous for my safety), it seemed like a great opportunity for a subtle fall-tone arrangement. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Waxy Leaves leaves that are waxy, hold-up better in the process
- Washing Soda
- Saucepan / large pot
- Large Bowl with Ice Water
- Paper Towels
- Pine Cones
- Book Pages
Now, I am aware this is a strange supply list, but trust me you’re going to want these things… So what is washing soda, you ask? Good question. Washing soda is a compound similar to baking soda (but not baking soda) that’s generally found in the laundry detergent aisle of the grocery store.
Step 1 in the process is to create your skeleton leaves. To do this, you’ll need your saucepan, washing soda, large bowl, toothbrush and paper towels.
Place your leaves in your saucepan and cover with washing soda, then add water. Your ratio is going to be 1 cup washing soda for every 4 cups of water. You’ll want to make sure that you’ve added enough water to fully submerse your leaves without overcrowding. You’re going to cook the mixture, bringing your water to a boil on medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Check your water regularly and if necessary, continue to add more water throughout the process if it evaporates.
Next in your skeleton leaf process, is to take the leaf from the simmering water and place it in ice water. Take the leaf from the the ice water and place it on a damp/wet paper towel. Begin lightly brushing the leaf with a toothbrush; from the center, moving outwards. You’ll need to repeatedly brush in this motion, then flip your leaf over and do the same process to the back. I found that I had much better results by brushing the leaf on a damp/wet paper towel and by continuing to dunk the leaf in ice water throughout the brushing process.
Once your happy with the appearance of the leaf, make a leaf sandwich with two paper towels, weighing it down with your book so that the leaf’s ends won’t curl. See, the book serves a dual purpose.
I would recommend you let your leaves dry for approximately 12-24 hours.
Step 2, while the leaves are drying, you can move to your pine cones. I added a little bit of white paint to the pine cones, by dipping the toothbrush in acrylic paint and brushing the ends. You can also mix some of the acrylic paint with water and dunk your pine cones until you’re satisfied with the color.
Step 3, is to grab your book! I took about 5 pages at a time, ripping the pages from the spine of the book and folding the pages in half. The folded pages will sit a little nicer in the jars once assembled. Same way as you cut snowflakes as a child, you’ll want to design and cut your leaves. Keep the book pages folded in half, then cut your design from the outside of the page, towards the fold.
In Step 4, you’ll want your dried leaves, your book leaves, pine cones, glue, twine and jars/contains to begin assembly!
In the assembly process, I glued some of the dried leaves to the book page leaves so that they stayed in place, once in the jars. Then to create a little embellishment on top, I took the twine, strung it through both the book page leaves and dried leaves, tying it around the knob.
If you have extra book pages left-over, don’t be afraid to create a pumpkin! You can use the spine of the book for the core of the pumpkin. Trim the outside page corners (2 corners furthest away from the book’s spine) into a rounded-shape. Then glue the front and back cover of the book together. If the spine of the book is no longer intact, you can also use your twine; by cutting a hole through the book’s pages, stringing the twine through and creating a loop, then tying in to place. In either scenario, glue a stick in the center of your book pumpkin and embellish with your skeleton and book leaves.
Happy Fall Y’All!
We had a lot of fun with this project and really happy with the way it turned out! If you gave it a try, we’d love to see/hear about it!