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The Martha Craft Challenge, Project 23: Autumn-Leaf Curtain

The time for block printing has passed, my friends, and it’s now the time for…


Man, that sounds boring, no?

It’s actually not too bad, but it certainly isn’t the chapter I’m most excited about in this tome.

Today I made the autumn-leaves curtain.  But it’s not autumn, you say.  Yes, I say, but Martha cannot wait.  Martha waits for no one, not even the seasons.

Plus, we don’t really have autumn here in Los Angeles.

I spent the past few days collecting some leaves for this craft, and I found some good ones.  The project is very low tech: get some waxed paper, cut it into squares, stick a leaf in between two squares, iron it to melt the wax, then string a bunch of these pieces together.  Voilà.

The tricky part is that it doesn’t really work.  Ha!  At least, it didn’t work for me very well.  I managed to eke out a final product, but I’m pretty sure it won’t last beyond next week.  Maybe not even until tomorrow.

Before I go on, I’ll show you my results:

A pretty bad photo, but I’m still trying to figure out how to capture something like this.

Main problem?  The wax doesn’t really melt together very well.  I thought a lot about the root of this issue while I was ironing all the squares.  You can’t really iron right onto the waxed paper since then you get wax all over your iron.  So you are supposed to put the squares between two pieces of kraft paper.  I just used regular paper because I didn’t think I had any “kraft paper.”  (I now realize I could have probably used paper grocery bags, since Wikipedia tells me they are made out of kraft paper.)  So, when you iron between the paper, the wax absorbs into the external papers.  I suspect that there isn’t an abundance of wax on waxed paper in the first place, so when you iron it, much of the wax bleeds into the protecting papers and out of the waxed paper.  You are left with very little stick between the two papers.

I tried to counter this problem by a) ironing very quickly and for a very short time, b) ironing a tad right on the waxed paper, and c) making sure the leaves were small enough that I had a substantial margin of waxed paper to melt together.

A corollary issue here is that because the squares aren’t really tightly melted together, the paper isn’t stuck tightly to your leaves.  So you get a kind of glassine envelope effect, instead of a glass slide effect.  If that makes sense.

Even with my modifications, it didn’t work very well.  So here’s where I start to wonder.  Is that craft in Martha’s book for REALS?  Did they follow the directions exactly and end up with something that looks so superior?  I kind of can’t believe it.  Is it photoshopped?  Did they use a different material and pretend it was waxed paper?  I’m skeptical of their success.  And I love conspiracy theories.

I should note that I did NOT use kraft paper.  Perhaps kraft paper has a magical anti-absorption property?  I will admit that it is possible, although I find it highly unlikely, that the paper could make the difference.  I will have to do an experiment and give y’all an update.


  • cutting waxed paper = 10 minutes (I used a paper cutter, though)
  • layout = 10 minutes
  • sandwiching and ironing = 30 minutes
  • sewing blocks together = 45 minutes

Total time = a little over 1 ½ hours




Man, this was a cheapie.

  • waxed paper = $1.99

That’s it!


I don’t think so.  It only took about an hour and a half, but since it didn’t really turn out very well, that’s an hour and a half I could’ve spend reading The Passage, playing Wii Super Mario Brothers with my boys, or drinking a glass of wine by the pool.  All better than making this thing.  The one context I can see making this project is for Thanksgiving.  But who makes decorations for Thanksgiving?  Martha, apparently.



Leave a Comment

  • August 23, 2010, 9:22 pm Erika Wright

    That’s hilarious. I will die of the Kraft paper makes a difference.

  • August 23, 2010, 11:30 pm Lisa

    I actually kind of like this one. Go figure!

  • August 24, 2010, 6:00 pm Amy In Australia

    I think it looks pretty! But you raise a good point about Martha. I wonder if they REALLY follow all their own instructions? Cause when you first said you were using wax paper, I thought–will regular wax paper melt together like that?

    Hmmm…I think you should go undercover and check it out. ;)

  • October 22, 2010, 5:30 pm Midniyte

    I’ve known many people that were successful at this as a child. I have found that I couldn’t and when I consulted a teacher who used to do it as a child and tried recently we have both agreed that wax paper is made different than it used to and I am currently trying to find if I can figure out what was different so that maybe I can find a roll made the old fashioned way. I am hoping to find something at our hobby superstore. Good luck.

  • November 14, 2011, 7:09 pm Reid

    Ha! I just finished this one and the Kraft paper does NOT make a difference. Looks like kraft. Oops, I mean CRAP! :)

  • October 13, 2013, 10:37 am silvia

    So modern waxed paper is different, and worse? It certainly didn’t work for me either! Leaves slipping out at the slightest provocation. No good.