How to preserve autumn leaves (1910)

Original publication: The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, Calif.) Date: October 23, 1910
Categories: 1910s, Fall, Mementos & memorabilia
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Preserving autumn leaves

It is very natural that one should wish to preserve permanently the bright-colored beauty of the leaves of fall; and many are the plans that have been devised for so doing. To most of us, I am afraid, “preserving autumn leaves” means sticking them between the pages of the dictionary, an unpleasant process that invites insects and produces withered, dry and faded leaves. There is a better way, and here it is.

Spread the leaves out on a towel, with the shiny sides up. Smooth them out carefully, but not too stiffly, and over then place a thick blotter large enough to cover them completely. Then with a not-too-hot iron press down hard upon each leaf; do not simply iron over the whole blotter.

To make the leaves pliable as well as durable, now rub the upper surface of each lightly with a soft cloth dipped in olive oil; do not brush the leaf, but rub the oil in gently and yet firmly.

Finally, to give a permanent coating, dip a camel’s hair brush in thin gum and brush the leaves all over, not forgetting the stems. Do not let beads of the gum harden around the edges of the leaves, spoiling the delicate outline. Have the gum thin enough to dry quickly, so that the leaves do not stick to the towel. Gum four times, with an interval of three days after each gumming.

Leaves thus preserved can be kept indefinitely, and should be properly arranged. A good plan is to keep a book of cardboard pages, one for each variety of leaf, fastened together by a leather lacing. You will be surprised to find how many different sorts of trees grow in the woods near your own home, and traveling will acquire a new interest.

Of course, fresh leaves as well as “turned” ones can be prepared in the manner described, but the directions are given now that you may enjoy to its fullness the spoil from our lovely autumn woods.

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Source publication: The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, Calif.)

Publication date: October 23, 1910

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