We went on a nature walk over the weekend. The tree’s fall colors had been calling to me for days and being in such an urban area, I’d been craving a slice of the quieter, natural world. This area north of Chicago has “forest preserves” and I put that in quotation marks because they’re little one and two acre things with paved drives and trails you can see from any given point within the preserve. It’s frustrating for someone who grew up in the woods, where people own several hundred acres each and our forest preserve is an actual preserve at 14,000 acres. Nonetheless, it is a good practice to make the best of what you have no matter the situation. And we definitely don’t have a view like this one where I come from.
So my goal for the walk was to find leaves to press for crafts later in the year, and on that account I scored, ending up with more leaves than I had resources to press them with. In the past, I’ve put leaves between two paper towels and pressed them in a phone book. The digital age has made phonebooks a thing of the past though, and failing that I didn’t have a book I was willing to sacrifice to the project. So instead, I’m using cardboard and printer paper.
- Printer paper or paper towels
- Rubber bands
How to Press:
- Match each leaf to two pieces of cardboard, making sure that the tips and stem are not hanging off the edge.
- Cut a piece of copy paper to match the cardboard pieces.
- Lay one piece of copy paper on one piece of cardboard, then position the leaf in the center, placing the second piece of copy paper and finally the second piece of cardboard over it.
- Bind the bundle with rubber bands.
- Place the bundles under something heavy.
- To press more leaves, I stacked multiple bundles together so that the order went like this: cardboard—paper—leaf—paper—cardboard—paper—leaf—paper—cardboard, etc. until I ran out.
- Leaves usually only take a week or so to press, but flowers are going to take longer. You might have to change out the paper on them a couple of times and leave them for two or three weeks.
- If you set out specifically to press flowers, collect them well after the morning dew has dried.
- If you’re pressing with a book, start in the back of the book when putting leaves in. This makes it easier to fill the pages without jostling what you’ve already placed.
- Tissues can be used in place of copy paper or paper towels, but don’t use the ones with lotion in them.
Once my leaves dry I’ll do a couple more posts on potential things to do with them, including molding them into plain candles , decorating empty jars and making homemade notecards and bookmarks. We also found several large feathers that we’re going to be making into quills later on.
It’s a good idea to give yourself some nature-based things you can work on throughout the winter, when many of Mother Nature’s natural resources are slumbering. There are still ways to honor the earth and bring her into our homes while it’s cold out, of course, and we’ll look at a couple of those too. What kinds of projects are you working on this time of year?
In the Mother’s light,