Bringing Some Fall Colours Inside : Making a Garland with Maple Leaves

simple-garland-made-from-real-maple-leaves-and-twine-autumn fall thanksgiving decoration

After I saw that the brightly coloured leaves of one of the maple trees in our neighbourhood had begun to fall, I went out and gathered up a bunch and stuck them between the pages of a magazine. I actually did this more than once, because every time I passed the spot I noticed just one more leaf that was so pretty that I had to have it. And then there was another, and another and so on.

It was only when I opened the magazine on the weekend and took the leaves out, that I realized that I had collected over 85 leaves. Here is how I made a garland with them. You certainly don’t need as many leaves to make one too!

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handmade-maple-leaf-and-twine-fall Halloween Party-garland-decoration

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Supplies : Twine, a crochet hook – size 5 (optional … the chain is easy enough to make by hand), some maple leaves.

Steps :

(1) To prepare the leaves, gather when they are very fresh and pliable. Make sure to select leaves that have the entire stem still attached, including the bit at the end where the stem is wider where it was attached to the tree. This part should be intact if the leaves fell off the tree naturally, but if it has been broken off it won’t work for this particular project.

Place them between the pages of a magazine or newspaper, and then put a weight on top such as a pile of books. Leave them to dry out completely; it takes at least a week.

Alternatively : if you want a decoration for a party, that you don’t need to last, you could make this with fresh leaves a few hours before your event. The leaves will eventually curl up but it would look good long enough for your gathering. This would be great for a Halloween party decoration.

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(2) To prepare the the cord onto which the leaves will be attached, you have to make a chain, either by using a crochet hook, or by hand as described in this post. You want the stitches to be fairly loose because you’ll be hanging the leaves by passing that wider end part of the stem through the holes, but if the stitches are too loose the leaves won’t stay. Make it as long as you’d like with the understanding that it will stretch a bit, and that a more lovely garland will dip down in the centre. My chain was 350 links long, for a garland that will hang on a wall that is 7 1/2 feet wide.

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(3) Hang the cord. I have two small nails in the walls but you can use hooks or tape. The garland will be relatively fragile, so consider this when you choose your location. Also, as dried leaves will burn, make sure it won’t be hanging near candles.

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^ Mine was going in the same place that I had hung my crocheted flower garland (this one) for spring and summertime. ^

(4) Begin attaching your dried leaves, by passing the wide end of the stem through the holes in the chain. They stay in there very well. I started by sticking in the largest leaves and filled in the garland with smaller ones, spacing out the various colours and natural patterns.

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(5) The number of leaves you use is up to you. I wanted mine to be very full so I used 85 leaves, but it also looked cute at the beginning after I’d only put in about 10.

(6) Optional : find the best helper in all the land to assist …

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Note : The leaves will probably curl up a little, as you can see in these pictures, no matter how long they have stayed within the pages of the magazine. That is unavoidable for most kinds of maple leaves, (although there is one around here that will drop bright crimson leaves sometime in November, that I used to make this display last year … those leaves stayed completely flat after drying).

There is a way of avoiding having them curl, by soaking them in a glycerin and water solution but that adds what seems like a lot of extra work for what is meant to be a temporary decoration, and I don’t mind the natural look of some curling. I would advise that you leave them between the pages right until you’re ready to put them in the garland. I found that they curled up within a few of hours after I’d removed them and made the garland, but then they settled … what you see in these pictures is what they look like a few days later. I expect the leaves to look like this until I take the garland down after Canadian Thanksgiving, which is this weekend.

That said, if you do plan to display your garland for longer than a couple of days you do want to go through the process of pressing them while they dry as described, otherwise they will become unattractively curled as they dry out, as shown in the photo below. Both these leaves are from the same tree and were brought inside at the same time.

pressed-leaf-versus-unpressed-leaf

As this is a temporary decoration I’ll be throwing the leaves into the compost after taking it down and saving the cord to use for another purpose or to make a leaf garland again next fall. Or, since it’s only a chain, you can unravel easily and reuse the twine.

close-up-of-handmade-maple-leaf-garland

fall-decorative-garland-made-with-crocheted-twine-chain-and-maple-leaves

diy-fall-maple-leaf-garland-using-real-leaves-and-twine

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handmade-garland-with-colored-fall-maple-leaves-and-twine-diy

Thanks a lot for taking a look. Please let me know if you make a leaf garland too!
xo loulou

Posted in Holidays : Thanksgiving, Making Things DIYs, Plants and Garden | 15 Comments

A 3 am Adventure : Nuit Blanche 2014

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The all-night art festival called Nuit Blanche was this weekend. To quote the booklet it is ‘Toronto’s nocturnal celebrations of contemporary visual art’. There were a total of 130 projects to be seen between 7 Saturday evening and 7 Sunday morning, throughout the downtown core. Some installations are created by local artists and some are things that have traveled around the world.

I’ve read some complaints about it being too crowded, with a problem of drunk teenagers, but we’ve never seen that at all. That’s because we go really late, which is actually really early the next day, and by then, the crowds have thinned, leaving enough night-owls out to make it feel fun and like you’re not alone out there, but there’s a lot of space and it’s quite easy to see what you want to see.

Since the festival is in the dark, most of the pieces have something to do with light of some kind.

I love Nuit Blanche and look forward to it every year. The ‘getting up and going out in the middle of the night’ part of this annual event is as fun for me as seeing the art. I love the cool darkness and the nearly traffic free streets, many of which are closed to cars for the night. The experience feels quite surreal.

On Saturday we went to sleep around 10:30 and set the alarm for 3. We had a coffee and got dressed in warm clothes that included hats and gloves, because the temperature had dramatically dropped over the past few days. Then out into the night we went.

This year we rode our bikes, mostly because my foot is still healing, but also because we remembered how tired our legs were from walking last year. And now we know that bikes will be the way to go from now on. We got to see so much more, starting by riding along Queen Street West, where we saw …

gap ecology nuit-blanche-toronto-2014

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^ Gap Ecology (Still Lives with Cherry Pickers and Palms) by David Brooks – New York City ^

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^ Left – Amaze by Marcos Zotes from Reykjavik, Iceland (we didn’t go in but it looked really cool, and there was a drone flying around over top). Right – Global Rainbow by Yvette Mattern – New York and Berlin. By the time we got out (and as seen in this photo taken at 3:30 am) this was pointing south from what looked like was about College and Bathurst Streets, but originally it had been pointing towards Chinatown, coming from the top of the CN Tower. So sometime during the night it was moved (?). ^

Queen West brought us to City Hall Nathan Phillip’s Square …

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^ City Hall – I’m not sure if the way it was lit up was part of the show or a regular thing. ^

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^ Monument to North American Energy Security ^

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^ Left – The Signing Shadow Opera. Right – Ground zero for Half Life. ^

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^ Dress Rehearsal by Tor Lukasik-Foss from Hamilton, Canada. This was a performance piece and the shadows were created by people moving around inside the boxes. ^

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^ The Garden of Renova by Luigi Ferrara from Toronto (Yes, it’s all toilet paper.) ^

Then we decided we had enough energy to head down to Fork York.

shy-lights-nuit-blanche-toronto-2014-and-cn-tower-at-night

^ On the way we checked out Shy Lights by Nathan Whitford of Toronto. This was an interactive piece where the light beams moved to avoid illuminating the people walking among them. The right-hand shot of the CN Tower in the dark was not part of the show, but I think it was dark for the show because it’s usually lit up quite brightly at night. ^

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^ Then we stopped by a gallery that was participating, called ‘White Out’ ^

Fort York is where the city of Toronto all began, so it was neat to see modern art among the old buildings.

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between-doors-installation-nuit-blanche-toronto-2014

^ Between Doors created by Labspace Studio Toronto. This was an interactive piece that I wish I’d tried, but I couldn’t walk it. ^

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^ Nick especially liked this video called Conga Irreversible, created in Havana, Cuba. We’ve been there and recognized the streets. ^

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^ This very last piece we saw ended up being my favourite of the night. It was a light installation called Melting Point, created by 3 Toronto artists. The ever-changing lights looked like a river of light flowing down the hill, all coordinated to a musical soundtrack. It looked great, and I didn’t even get the whole thing, because in the dark and from my vantage point at the bottom of the hill, I couldn’t see that the lights were ‘flowing’ from two real cannons that are part of the fort. The display will continue until the 13th, so I might go back down to check it out again and get the full effect. ^

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There was so much more to see, but we found ourselves peddling home instead. We got in at 5:30 and Nick heated up some homemade veggie and potato soup (that he had made earlier with a jar of these Roasted Vegetable Puree) and made some toast. Then we hit the sack for the second half of our good night’s rest.

Thanks a lot for checking out my post, and happy Monday to you.
xo loulou

Posted in Art, Poetry and Theatre | 4 Comments