I have a petiol (mid-rib) base of a leaf from a palm tree I picked up on the beach in Maui, Hawaii, at my niece’s wedding. I would like to create a remembrance piece for the bridal couple, but it is very moist and needs to be dried. What would be the best method to dry this out? And what product could I use to preserve it? I would like to encase it in Plexiglas® with a few more artifacts from the momentous occasion. – Les Kuzdas
Tim Inman: I have a big food dehydrator that I actually use in my shop. It is a homemade adaptation of a commercially made one. Mine is big enough I could put your petiol inside and dry it down. This sort of material isn’t as finicky about drying speeds as quality cabinet hardwoods are. So, however you dry it will probably give equally good results. What do I dry? I originally made my dehydrator to let us dry paintbrushes during finishing workshops I used to teach. We could clean our brushes and dry them in a few hours instead of having to use multiple brushes and wait overnight. I can also use it as a mild heat source without the drying effects by simply blocking the exhaust ports — some or a lot. Heating “compo” moldings and castings for antique picture frame restoration workshops was the motivator for that use.
As for preservation, in your description it sounds as though you will have the petiol contained in a pretty stable environment. You might not really need to topcoat it with anything. That would be my first choice. A little wax or a light finishing oil would be my next choices.