Monday, November 8, 2010

Fall Decorations: Dried Leaf Chains

I first did this last year, and it worked well enough that I thought I'd try again.  There are three basic steps: Find leaves and dry them, coat them in polyurethane, and then string them.  I should note that my strings from last year are still in good enough shape to use again this year.

First, find some good leaves.  I used maple leaves, and got a combination of red, yellow, and orange leaves.  Some of the color will fade, so it's good to get leaves that contrast as much as possible.  I also looked for leaves that didn't have holes in them.  I put the leaves in a big ol' book, and let them sit overnight to dry and flatten out (if you wait about 24 hours, the leaves may crinkle a bit before the end product; if you wait 48 hours you will get a chain of completely flat leaves). 

Next, spray a coat of polyurethane over them (outside, well ventilated, read the warning label).  I use a semi-gloss coating, which I think gives them a nice natural-ish look.  A full gloss could be a bit over-powering, and no gloss means a little less color.  You have to make sure to coat both sides of the leaves, and try not to spray them too much (a light coating is all you need).

Once the polyurethane dries, you are ready to string them up.  All you need is brown (or red or orange or yellow or whatever) color thread and a needle.  I thread two holes in each leaf, about half an inch apart, to make the leaves perpendicular to the chain.  I make chains about two to three feet long; the longer the chain the more difficult to keep it un-tangled, and the leaves are delicate so you don't want to have to mess around with them too much.  Tie off the ends by tying the thread back onto itself in a loop around the end leaf.  Enjoy!

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