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The Process: From Leaf to Treasured Heirloom

People have been drying and saving sentimental flowers and plants for centuries. The oldest dried plants were found intact in a Roman tomb--over 2000 years old! While they may not keep their vivid color, a dried plant can be kept beyond a lifetime if prepared properly. My process takes this a step further, ensuring that these once-transient leaves remain archival, preserved heirlooms.

Note: This is not an exhaustive walkthrough of my own preservation and preparation process. I haven't quite given away all my secrets just yet! :)

Gathering Leaves

   The leaves I paint are chosen based on a number of factors. Typically, I'm looking for sturdy, intact leaves with a good shape for my composition. However, sometimes the leaf itself determines the composition, especially if the location it comes from is part of the piece!

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Pressing + Drying

   An old art history book makes a great leaf press! The leaves are spaced out among the pages, and left inside to dry for up to a month (depending on the thickness of the leaf) to ensure that no moisture remains in the leaf.

Prepping the Surface

   Once a leaf is dried, it can be prepped with a layer (or two) of acrylic gesso, just like prepping a canvas! 

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Painting the Leaf

   After prepping with gesso, the leaf is ready to paint. When painting, I've learned to move with the veins of the leaf so as not to tear it! (Don't even ask how many I've torn to learn that, though)

Sealing + Framing

   The finished piece is sealed in entirety, then mounted to a wrapped-linen board using archival adhesive. The mounted leaf is then framed behind a pane of shatter-proof acrylic glazing to ensure it is protected for years to come!

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