Winter moves at a slower pace Up North. The mad rush of summer visitors is but a distant memory and the Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations are packed away for next year. It’s time to knit a sweater, read a book by the fireside, cook comfort food, cross-country ski or spend intimate evenings with close friends. It also gives us extra time to be creative with crafts that can be used to enhance our home in the quiet months ahead.

Candles cast out the dark of winter. They are beautiful unadorned, but an easy and natural way to dress up an ordinary candle is to encircle it with leaves and ribbon. The finished candle has an organic look that calls to mind the spirit of the Northwoods.

In winter, your best bet is to use preserved leaves purchased from a florist – magnolia and citrus leaves work well. Simply glue them to a 4″-diameter candle and tie with raffia or ribbon, and your project is finished. But fresh leaves can be used too, with a few considerations.

Here’s how to treat and preserve them yourself so they last longer.

Preserved Fresh Leaves• Wipe dust off leaves with a damp paper towel.
• Spray leaves with Americana acrylic sealer in either a glossy or matte finish.
• With scissors, cut 1" or more off the stem end of the leaf, so that they are even at the bottomof the candle.
• Using a hot glue gun, place a dab of glue on the back of each leaf and apply to the surface
of the candle, allowing the leaves to overlap so that the candle’s surface is covered. • Tie colored raffia around candle.

Preserved and Painted Fresh Leaves
• Clean leaves with damp paper towel.
• Place leaves in a pan of silica gel so they are completely immersed and not touching. Cover tightly with Saran Wrap and allow to sit for 48 hours.
• Remove leaves, spray with acrylic sealer or with spray paint color of your choice.
• Glue leaves to candle.• Tie with raffia or ribbon.

Marlene Houghan was a regular contributor to Northern Home & Cottage.

Note: This article was first published in January 2002 and was updated for the web February 2008.