Oakleaf Bookmark

By nature I am a beachcomber, and I love nothing more than strolling barefoot along a sandy beach looking for glistening stones or beach glass or fossils. You might think that beachcombing would be difficult here in the landlocked Midwest, but as I walk to work every morning, I find myself “beachcombing,” usually finding feathers, lucky pennies, interestingly-squashed bottle caps, and other treasures. And now that the leaves are just starting to fall, I can study leaves as I walk and leaves are pretty much as interesting as shells, if not more so. My favorite leaves are oak leaves, which come in fantastic shapes, as individual as snowflakes, and I always pick up just one more to press in a phone book and to add to my collection. Oak leaves are leathery in texture, and at some point, I started using them as book marks, and yesterday I got the idea of decoupaging butterflies onto the dried leaves.

So this project begins with going for a walk on a glorious fall day, looking for the most interesting oak leaves, and then pressing and drying them.

When a leaf is dry, cut out and glue paper butterflies onto the leaf (more on this in a minute). I use Yes! Paste. You can use white glue, but that might cause delicate paper cutouts to wrinkle, and the Yes! Paste doesn’t cause wrinkling. When the glue is dry, I varnish the butterfly cutout with Mod Podge Mat sealer. This seals in the cutout and makes it look more dimensional.

As for where you might get the butterfly cutouts, you might cut them from wrapping paper or greeting cards. I got mine from a Dover book called “Old-Time Butterfly Vignettes in Full Color,” which has hundreds of images made for decoupage. Since I can’t possibly use all these butterfly images myself, if you send me a self-addressed stamped envelope, I will send you an assortment of butterflies. Send to: Fran Manos, 920 S. Second Street, St. Charles, IL 60174

You might think of your own twists to this project, for instance, writing the year on the leaf with gold ink or edging the leaf with gold paint, or mounting leaves on antiqued paper in a shadowbox.

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