General Question

Beta_Orionis's avatar

What method of leaf preservation is best for retaining color?

Asked by Beta_Orionis (3396 points ) October 3rd, 2009

It’s Autumn here in PGH and many leaves have changes or are in that interesting mid-change phase. I want to save all the pretty leaves! Okay, admittedly not all of them, but a fair amount!

- Have you tried the Glycerin (submersion or stem absorption) or wax-paper methods?

- Which has produced better results in terms of color preservation?

- For either of these methods, what experience-informed tips do you have for most success?

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12 Answers

sandystrachan's avatar

Varnish or clear nail polish maybe

Jeruba's avatar

Dipping in paraffin does a nice job. That’s what we used to do when I was a kid in the Northeast.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@Jeruba Do you just coat the leaf thoroughly, wait for the wax to settle, and then wipe off any excess, or is there more set time involved?

wilma's avatar

As a kid we always put them between waxed paper and ironed it on a very low temperature.
That saves them, but they don’t look vibrant.
My mother in law has used glycerin, and that turned out great.

Jeruba's avatar

@Beta_Orionis, I’m trying to remember. I think all we did was melt blocks of paraffin in a saucepan and then dip the leaves in one at a time, holding onto the stem. If I remember right, you lift them out and give them a second to drip, and by then it’s already hardening. I think we laid them on sheets of newspaper to cool all the way. There’s nothing to wipe. The wax makes a thin coating that preserves the leaves as long as you don’t smush them and crack the wax.

One of thousands of ways in which online news is no substitute for a newspaper.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@Jeruba Hmm! The advantage of Glycerin seems to be natural flexibility.

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t know anything about glycerin or how it works, but if it offers a clear, flexible coating, it sounds ideal.

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@Jeruba as far as I can tell, it works via absorption. I guess it’s similar to fossilization or Plasticization. It preserves from the inside out rather than providing a protective coating.

@delirium Resin? What sort?

sdeutsch's avatar

I’ve always used the wax paper method, and the leaves stay pretty flexible, since the wax on wax paper is so thin and flexible already. The ones I’ve done have always kept their color nicely all the way through the fall – after that I toss them to make way for the Christmas decorations!

Beta_Orionis's avatar

@sdeutsch So you keep the wax paper over them rather than peeling it away to leave the wax behind on the leaf?

sdeutsch's avatar

No, I iron the leaves in the wax paper and then peel the paper away – but I think, because you get such a thin layer of wax that way, it tends to crack and crumble less than the paraffin method does. Although, I’ve only ever tried the paraffin once, so it may have just been that my paraffin-dipping skills aren’t the greatest…

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