As summer draws to and end, I always look forward to the fall colors in Portland. Each year, the Columbia River Gorge comes alive with orange, red, and yellow hues. Last fall, while hiking along Eagle Creek, I collected a few of the brightly colored leaves dotting the trail. At the time, I did not know how I would use the foliage. To my surprise, they have come to be some of my family and friends’ most treasured gifts. Preserved and framed, Oregon’s fall oak and maple leaves are a welcomed decoration during dreary winter months.
The process of preserving and framing fall leaves is a very simple one! The first step, collecting your assortment, is undoubtedly the most fun. This requires exploring the great outdoors, or at least your backyard. Once you have acquired enough leaves for your montage, you need to dry and store the leaves in a safe, dark space.
The next steps involve preserving your leaves in order to prepare them for framing. A few products are needed to ensure your leaves keep their vibrant fall colors, and do not disintegrate over time. First, spray each leaf with several layers of a clear UV-resistant acrylic coating (try checking your local craft store for options.) Once both sides of the leaf has been completely covered with UV-protector and have sufficiently dried, it is time to add sheen to your art piece. A gloss acrylic sealer/finisher adds the perfect luster.
Finally, it is time to frame your art. Affordable frames can be obtained from garage sales, local craft shops, or even on craigslist. The key to dressing up your leaf, however, is in the backing. I have found that a neutral backdrop, such as cream, works best against autumn shades. Including the cost of materials, each frame should be no more than $10-15; but, they undoubtedly look pricier than that! Who can put a price on “made with love” anyways?!