When life gives you leaves …

The clocks have returned to real time. Darkness falls while I’m still at work. From now until spring I can contemplate my future life plans under dim lamplight.
Meanwhile, I’ve been gathering leaves to make decoupage bookmarks as Christmas gifts.
My sister and I gathered leaves at our favorite walking spot, racing from tree to tree as colors caught our eyes. At one point we were stomping through a pile of brown, crunchy tree cover. We turned to one another smiling like our long-gone little sister selves.
“This is fun!” the 40-something-year-old siblings squealed.
Soon, my pile of leaves was strewn all over the living room rug, making the room resemble the back porch.
I did a few searches online and read up on decoupage, which is the glue you buy at Michael’s to stick things to paper. Decoupage glue can also be used to provide a shiny coat of sealant for things you’ve stuck to paper.
I think they teach this in third grade.
Making holiday gifts fits with my value system — dirt poor, anti-junky consumerism, bored when it’s too dark to garden, and allergic to the shopping mall.
This isn’t my first foray into crafty kid-land.
One year I made crochet washrags, which was more work than I realized. I found myself crocheting in inappropriate locations, such as restaurants and work meetings.

Years ago my sister and I crafted hand-made candles that smelled like crayons. We had fun, but I think there is still wax on the side of my stove.
While making fudge one year, I gained eight pounds, and vowed to let my relatives buy their own holiday treats.
Then there were the origami swan mobiles, made from recycled Christmas cards. Those monstrosities have been recycled again, and I still crack up when wondering how the gift recipients kept a straight face.
Yes, it’s the thoughts that count.

This year, maybe the leaf bookmarks will be beautiful.
If members of my family no longer read books, they can decoupage my gifts to the back of their Kindle readers.
The project is more of a hassle than I thought, and my skill level, sadly, is only at a second-grade level. But it’s fun to make gifts from something you literally find on the ground.

Up close, and in a cluster, the leaves are amazing — intricate in their subtle shading and shape.
And fleeting — I grabbed a bag on a recent walk and pressed them between two boxes filled with soup cans.leaves
By the next day some of the colors had faded.
Now I’m covering the leaves with glue as soon as possible. I’m hoping by the time everything dries I don’t have a fat stack of faded brown bookmarks.
But my relatives will know.
They’ll know I was sending love from my heart, through my hands, to fading pieces of nature, to be pressed between a book in progress.
Or will they just think I’m cheap and should have bought them a gift card at a coffee house?
However it turns out, I can’t imagine my bookmarks could ever turn out as badly as the origami swan mobiles.

This week my sister asked me to take some items to a charity store. In the bag I found a jar I painted for her three years ago.
She said I had made her another jar that she liked better, and I could give this particular jar to someone else — perhaps the charity thrift store.
Hmmm. I wouldn’t want to deprive her of a bookmark made from fall leaves? Or would I?
Maybe she would prefer a gift card from a big-box store.
To read up on tips for using decoupage, here’s some links compiled on Storify: http://goo.gl/UGa45W.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.