Frugal Gardeners are found world-wide and we constantly search for money-saving ways to stretch our garden budget. This Saturday feature will spotlight projects gardeners can create for inexpensive garden art and gifts. We hope our projects will inspire you to become a Frugal Gardener too!
Gardeners fortunate enough to live in an area where the autumn foliage is beautiful, love this time of year. The fields and forests are ablaze with golds, reds and oranges. We plan gardens around autumn foliage and snap untold images of nature's splendor. Most of us would love to extend the season and preserve leaves to enjoy indoors, but autumn leaves are so fragile that many crafts result in crushed leaves and crumbled dreams. This month's Frugal Gardener is a cheap and pretty craft that uses brightly colored leaves to make decorative candle holders for your table.
The best leaves to use are thin and flexible. Maple and sumac were at their peak when I started collecting leaves for this project and they worked well. If you can't start your project right away, gently wrap the leaves in a plastic bag and place them in the refrigerator. This keeps them supple and fresh.
Materials are easy to come by; autumn leaves, Mod Podge® and glass candle holders along with a paintbrush and a roll of paper towels for clean-up are all you'll need. I picked up a pair of 'hurricane globes' at the local thrift store, but any smooth glass container will work, even drinking glasses.
Collect fresh autumn leaves in many shapes and colors. A good rule of thumb is to collect about three times as many leaves as you think you'll use.
I spread a plastic sheet and picked up a paper plate to work my Mod Podge in. This makes for easy clean-up.
I started working from the bottom of my globe and spread Mod Podge on a section about the size of my hand. This lets you work at your own pace and the glue doesn't dry faster than you are able to place your leaves.
I found that if I also spread Mod Podge on the backs of the leaves, they were easier to work with. Don't worry about getting it on the front of your leaves. We're going to cover that too. Snip the stems of your leaves off before starting to glue them down. The stems tend to stick out and aren't glue-friendly.
Carefully stick your leaves to the glass in a pleasing pattern. The leaves won't lay completely flat on the surface of your candle holder. There will be little crinkles and bumps here and there, but this adds character to finished project, so don't worry. Make them as flat as possible, but realize that they are going to have some irregularities.
Work around your surface, adding leaves a few at a time. Make sure that you overlap some for a natural effect. Don't worry about the brushstrokes. Once everything dries, they lend a beautiful texture to the piece.
If you're doing a pair of containers, like I was, make sure that they are similar in appearance. I tried to balance the bright reds and the sizes that I used so that the hurricanes looked similar. They won't be exact, that is part of the charm, but they do have the appearance of belonging together.
After you have your leaves placed on both surfaces (providing you're doing two) it is time to go back and lightly brush a coat of Mod Podge over the whole thing. Press down any little edges or tags and brush a bit more Mod Podge over them to keep them in place.
Until they are dry, this project tends to look like a mess, but rest-assured, the Mod Podge is transparent once it is dry. It takes about 24 hours for everything to cure, so if you are wanting to do this for your Thanksgiving table, prepare everything a few days in advance.
And here are the Frugal Autumn Leaf Hurricanes! The leaves look so nice with the candle light behind them and are sure to be a hit at your autumn party. The leaves last all season, and beyond, if carefully packed. I gave a dollar a piece for the hurricanes at a local thrift store and everything else,I had on hand. A Frugal Gardener project indeed!
About Melody Rose
I come from a long line of Kentuckians who love the Good Earth. I love to learn about every living thing, and love to share what I've learned. Photography is one of my passions, and all of the images in my articles are my own, except where credited.