Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Handcrafted Holiday - how to make a beeswax leaf garland

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My favorite color is… October.  Seriously.  Every October, as the giant maple tree that shades my yard changes from deep green to yellow to orange and red and then tumbles to the ground, I just can’t help but think that I want to keep those colors forever.  So I started researching ways to preserve these incredible leaves from my maple tree and discovered that dipping them in beeswax allows them to stay beautiful for months, sometimes years!  The color doesn’t stay around with drying or pressing but it you can seal it in by removing the oxygen from the leaves, sealing in the beauty of fall. 

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Beeswax Leaf Garland

What you need for your garland:
  • Double Boiler
  • Beeswax
  • Pressed Leaves
  • Waxed Paper
  • Hemp Twine

First: Dry the leaves for a day or so, pressed into a book.  I do this so that they are less prone to rot.  The less moisture, the longer they will last, but you have to walk that fine balance between too dry to wax (they just fall apart) and too wet (they rot hanging from the mantel-piece, not quite the look we are going for). 

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Second: Bring the beeswax to a liquid state over a double boiler. 

Third:  Remove the double boiled off of the burner and place it close to your wax paper.  Gently, dip the leaves into the beeswax and as you take them out, allow them to drip for a few seconds.  You do not need a lot of wax on the leaves to protect them and any place that has a lot of wax will be more opaque… so let it drip well to get all the excess off.
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Lastly: You can do one of two drying methods, you can tie them directly on to the hemp twine and let them hang to dry, or you can lay them onto wax paper.  This generally goes faster but it can cause some opaque parts on the back of the garland.  If you are hanging them in front of a mantel you may want to turn that side of the leaf to the back. 

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I used several different types of leaves, sweet gum, vine maple, and our own sugar maple.  The maples were by far the most beautiful for our craft.

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Because wow.  These colors are amazing!

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