Luckily I live in Oakland, where the leaves change color for an abnormally long amount of the year - the concept of seasons is certainly confusing to me where I live since the weather is almost always nice, so perhaps it's tricky for the trees to figure out too.
Step 1: Collect Leaves
This wasn't exactly what it looked like when I collected leaves...
Step 2: Press Leaves in Books
This step is sort of a long one - you've got to wait until the leaves are dry before you can move on. Expect to wait a week or two depending on how humid of a climate you are in.
If you're in a rush, it's possible you could put them into a food dehydrator, or dry them underneath a high wattage bulb, but be sure that you fashion some kind of a net or mesh to hold them all flat while they dry since they can tend to curl on you. The book method is tried and true by years and years of the collective work of kindergarteners everywhere, so if you've got the time, wait it out.
Step 3: Find Log and Remove Center
Take a 3/4" - 1" slice of the wood off at one end of the round by running it through a bandsaw or using a handsaw as an alternative. The slice will be put back on later, so register it's location on the rest of the round by making a tick mark with a pencil that spans the cut you just made. Drill a network of holes in the back of the slice to let hot air vent out of the fixture. See the last photo below for how I arranged mine. Then, in the center of the vent holes you just drilled, drill another hole that will fit a medium to large (3/8" or so) eye bolt - this will be where we will hang the lamp from later. Set the slice aside.
Focus your attention back on the remaining section of the log. Using a spade bit (ok), forstner bit (better), or large auger bit (best), and a corded drill, drill a honeycomb of holes through the center of log being careful not to get too close to the outside of the log. Drill the holes as close together as possible - if the drill jumps over into the next hole don't worry about it. Using a drill press will help in this process if you have one, but I've done this with a hand drill several times and had great success. The goal here is to remove the center of the log leaving an outer ring behind. Think about it as making a "log tube", or long and skinny "log donut".
Keep drilling holes until the the honeycomb network is ready to be knocked out. A good way to break the inner network away from the outer shell is to remove a hacksaw blade, slip it through one of your holes, reconnect it to the saw handle, and then saw in a ring around your honeycomb. There are lots of ways to break the center out, hammer and chisel, random and wild hole drilling at odd angles, do whatever works for you, being sure you don't damage the outside - that's the lamp shade!
Once the center section has broken free, use a dremmel tool or sanding drum at the end of a drill to smooth out the inside of the round a bit and get rid of any wood shards hanging out on the inside of the log. Since you've already made a mess, take a moment to do some sanding around the outside of the wood, being careful to preserve the natural look and feel of the tree round and not sand away all the details completely.
* Please excuse my stock photography here in this step. These photos are from another project long ago, where I built small speakers out of trees. It shows exactly the same process for slicing the backs off the log and removing the center section of wood in tree rounds.
Step 4: Take Care of Any Cracking
Drill holes along the edge of the crack and using thin gauge steel cable, sew back and forth across the crack. Secure the cable with either a knot (hard due to the wire's springy nature), or ferrule designed to secure steel cables (easy and strong).
Take this opportunity to finish the log (including the slice) with a polyurethane, varnish, or protective oil. I used a water based polyurethane from minwax called polycrylic. It doesn't smell bad, is easy to clean up, and has a nice satin finish. I'm a big fan of the stuff.
Step 5: Clear Coat the Leaves
Spray all of the leaves with an enamel clear coat, or clear artists varnish. I've found the Krylon clear enamel paint to work the best since even after it dries, it stays pretty flexible and helps the leaves retain their color. I like using a semi or high gloss finish on the leaves to realyl make them pop. You can of course choose another finish.
The clear coat is not a permanent protective finish. I've found that slows the browning of the leaves down to around 6-12 months when applied carefully, and that after 1 year, the clear coat begins to flake off, thus requiring the leaves to be swapped out. I'm ok with this annual changing of the leaves, since freshly fallen leaves are so much prettier to look at and real fall leaves only retain their color for so long.
Step 6: Drill Holes in Wood
Take the drill bit and drill many small holes through your wood shell. My pattern was a bit random, but was more or less evenly spaced all over the log. Shoot for as many holes as leaves as you've collected and distribute them up and down, and around the log.
Step 7: Insert Piano Wire
Cut the piano wire to varying lengths of your choosing using a wire snips. You want them to be somewhat random and artfully arranged so that the leaves all don't end up in the same plane.
Step 8: Glue Leaves Onto Wire
Step 9: Wire in the Fixture
Step 10: Screw the Slice Into Position
At this point the lamp is built and you just need to hang it somewhere in your home.
That's how to make an Autumn Leaf Lamp, thanks for reading and please leave feedback below in the comments section.