The colours of autumn leaves have been glorious this year (perhaps they are every year?). I have been wondering how to make them last (the colours, not necessarily the leaves which need sweeping up and adding to garden compost or a leaf store). If you feel the same, why not try my recipe for an autumn leaves mobile? (This is a good half term project too).

autumn leaves

Here's my autumn leaves mobile. It is a slightly fiddly job, but not grubby and a lovely way of bringing the outdoors in. Sarah Buchanan

Ingredients for an autumn leaves mobile

  • At least one almost straight rustic stick, about 45 cm (18 inches long) and less than 1cm (0.4 inches). All the better if it has some nobbly bits. Find one among fallen leaves or on grass in parks and gardens (lots blown down where I live by Storm Brian). No rustic twigs? A short garden cane or a coat-hanger will do the job.
  • Four lengths of invisible, white or off white cotton thread about 60cm long, and a pair of scissors to cut to size.
  • Petroleum jelly (the most common brand name is Vaseline).
  • Autumn leaves, with stems! I am looking for a variety of shapes, colours and sizes. You won’t need more than 20.
  • String to hang your mobile up – how long you need depends on where it will hang.
  • A table to work on.
  • Somewhere to hang your finished mobile, ideally where air will move the leaves a little and out of harm’s way.
autumn leaves

Choose autumn leaves in different colours and shapes. I like the brilliant red of this Acer. Sarah Buchanan

How to make an autumn leaves mobile

  1. Brush off any loose bark or leaves from your stick.
  2. Tie two lengths of thread about 45 cm (18 inches) onto the stick, and another two lengths of thread about 30 cm (12 inches) long, spread at roughly equal distances apart.
  3. Lay the stick on your table, with the threads straight out from it.
  4. Arrange your leaves on the table in lines that will hang on the threads. Be sure to arrange them to show off their colours, shapes and sizes: largest at the top, smallest at the bottom perhaps. Depending on the leaf size, you will need four or five on the longer threads and three on the shorter.
  5. Take one of the threads and tie it carefully and tightly around the stem of the leaf which will be nearest the stick, about 2cm (3/4 inch), and do the same again to each leaf, making sure the leaves will hang underneath each other as you go.
  6. When you reach the last leaf, cut off spare thread that will otherwise hang below the bottom of the last leaf.
  7. Do the same with each thread of leaves.
  8. Gently spread a thin layer of ‘Vaseline’ on both sides of each leaf (this will help keep the colours and reduce the curling of the leaves).
  9. Tie the string to hang the mobile to the centre of the stick, making sure you have enough to hang it up. This is tricky because you need to ensure the stick is balanced – don’t tie the string to the stick too tightly as you may need to move it along the stick to ensure it's balanced and the leaves are hanging down in straight lines.
  10. Stand back and admire the colour of autumn leaves – and enjoy them for months to come.
autumn leaves

Acers offer magnificent autumn colours. Why not make a mobile of only those leaves, but with a range of colours. Sarah Buchanan

Want to bring the outdoors indoors with more projects like this? Try the Woodland Trust website here or this Pinterest page. Have fun!