Amazingly delicate pictures carved into Autumn leaves
The Longal Crafts Factory website has these amazingly delicate leaf carvings where pictures have been incised into the surface of leaves from the Oriental plane tree.
The site actually has a fairly detailed rundown of the process which is a lot more complicated than I assumed it would be.
Pristine leaves are selected in autumn – you need to pay particular attention to whether there are any signs of insect attack and obviously there shouldn’t be any breakage in terms of the leaf itself. Once you have your leaves, you put them in a dry, shady place for at least ten months. Apparently leaf carving involves a LOT of patience.
When enough time has passed, you boil the leaves in water for five hours or more to get rid of any remaining nasties and also to make the leaves themselves less fragile to work with. At this point you can start your carving. The site doesn’t mention any specific tools but I imagine scalpels and other papercraft tools would be perfectly fine. The biggest thing to be aware of at this point is that you’re only trying to get rid of the leaf flesh and not the veins so you have to be insanely careful.
Drying the finished leaves out is next. The Longal Crafts Factory explains that this is the most difficult step to control and that you should expect to lose around 60% of your leaves due to breakage. Again, no specifics are given but I would think that one way of doing it would be to place the leaf in between two flat, but porous surfaces and then position the whole thing over a gentle heat source. When they’re dried, the leaves need to be very carefully waxed and can then last decades.
There’s a whole picture gallery of leaf art for you to take a look through on the site.