Preserving Leaves

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#1)  Preserving Leaves

Postby John Harvey » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:53 pm

What is the best way to preserve leaves? I want to start a collection similar to what someone would do with butterflies, perhaps pinned in glass cases. . Is there a formaldehyde like substance I could coat them in?
John D Harvey (JohnnyDJersey)

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"If you look closely at a tree you'll notice it's knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully." - Matt Fox
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#2)  Re: Preserving Leaves

Postby edfrank » Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:01 pm

Really the only way to keep them from curling is to dry them in a leaf or flower press.  A simpler way is between newspaper sheets with a book holding it flat.  I don't know any other way to keep them from curling up.  Once dried you can mount them pinned in a glass case if you want.  For something like hemlock with small needles that fall off, you almost need to embed them in clear resin or they fall apart.
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#3)  Re: Preserving Leaves

Postby RayA » Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:20 pm

I agree with Ed ... I've dried (deciduous) leaves by putting them between clean, absorbent paper (not glossy paper), then keeping them flat by placing them in a thick book, or between flat pieces of plywood with a little weight on top. It works well, but when the leaves have dried, they'll become brittle. I haven't done this, but you might try preserving them by laminating in plastic to keep them long-term. I suppose you could also spray them with clear lacquer or shellac once they're dry, but they'll still be somewhat fragile (although fine if mounted under glass).
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#4)  Re: Preserving Leaves

Postby Erik Danielsen » Wed Jan 14, 2015 4:56 pm

A visual arts professor I know at SUNY fredonia sometimes incorporates a certain method of botanical specimen preservation in his work, in which leaves, stems, or other parts of the plant are pressed, then sandwiched between two sheets of thin (but strong) vellum or certain types of rice paper, semi-transparent in both cases, and sealed with some kind of archival adhesive. As far as I'm aware the same method is or has been used to preserve botanical specimens for scientific purposes in certain applications. Most resources I can find in a quick search simply discuss pressing and mounting on a single sheet of archival cardstock, so it may be that the sandwiched method is an outdated technique that he maintains for aesthetic reasons. Here's a good link on current herbarium specimen preparation methods: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/herbarium/voucher.htm
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#5)  Re: Preserving Leaves

Postby John Harvey » Wed Jan 14, 2015 6:03 pm

Thanks for the tips guys. I took a Tulip poplar leaf of my favorite tree when it fell and put it inside of one of those "magnetic" photo albums. For about two years its held up real nice and even has some color left. I did not consider resin before. I've seen small animals preserved perfectly in resin. I wonder if I could get something like a plastic sports trading card holder, put the leaf in, and fill it with resin. Some experimentation may be in order.
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"If you look closely at a tree you'll notice it's knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully." - Matt Fox
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#6)  Re: Preserving Leaves

Postby Larry Tucei » Thu Jan 15, 2015 10:16 am

Hi Johnny-   I have wanted to make a book with White Oak Species and one with Red Oak for years. Several years ago over ten, I placed a few different species, Burr Oak, White Oak, Shumard Oak, Northern Red, etc. into a species Pamphlet on trees of Ms. they are still there and well preserved.  Larry
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#7)  Re: Preserving Leaves

Postby John Harvey » Thu Jan 15, 2015 12:46 pm

My grandfather has a thistle flower from Germany folded in a letter my great, great, great, grandmother wrote and the flower is still purple. I think it was from 1915 or something. Ill have to try and get a picture.
John D Harvey (JohnnyDJersey)

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"If you look closely at a tree you'll notice it's knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully." - Matt Fox
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