Preserve Fall Leaves
Collecting beautiful leaves in the fall is one of my favorite things to do with my daughter. Our next favorite thing to do is to create nature crafts and make art using them.
The problem is that they will turn brown, shrivel up and break into pieces if you aren’t able to use them right away. Today I’m going to share what to do with fall leaves after you collect them so you can use them when you are ready.
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How to Press and Preserve Fall Leaves
Preserve Fall Leaves: Materials
Preserve Fall Leaves: Directions
Collect Fall Leaves
Collecting fall leaves is a great reason to get outside. It’s so much fun to go on a nature hunt looking for vibrant fresh fallen leaves to bring home to create something with or press and preserve for later. My daughter gets a rush of excitement every time she races for a pretty leaf. It’s so sweet to watch.
Press Fall Leaves
After you have collected some leaves it’s time to press them. If they are dirty rinse and dry them first. It is important that they are clean before you preserve them or they may peel.
Next, place them on top of a sheet of paper and place another sheet of paper on top. You can add as many leaves as you can fit between two sheets of paper. Do your best to make sure they lay flat under the paper. If you have lots of leaves you can place more leaves on top of the second sheet of paper and top it with another one.
Keep doing this until all of the leaves are between sheets of paper. Then place some large heavy books or binders on top of them and let them sit for 12 – 24 hours. Don’t let them sit for too long or they can begin to lose their color and/or grow mold.
Preserve Fall Leaves
After you have pressed the leaves it’s time to preserve them. You will need a surface large enough to dry all of your leaves.
First, cover a table or other surface with an old sheet or newspaper. Next, get out your pressed leaves, Mod Podge, a foam brush, and an old magazine or catalog. [It is almost impossible to apply Mod Podge to a leaf without getting it all over the surrounding area. Using an old magazine or catalog will give you a surface to quickly apply the Mod Podge without concern.]
Open your old magazine or catalog to the first page and use your foam brush to apply Mod Podge to one side of the leaf. After applying Mod Podge to one side of the leaf, lay it down on the surface you have covered to dry.
Turn the page after every few leaves so you have a new clean work surface to use. You will be gluing the pages of your old magazine together as you work. Mod Podge goes on milky and dries clear. You can see some drying below.
After they dry you can apply Mod Podge to the other side of each leaf using the same technique if you like. See update below.
Once the leaves are dry they can curl and/or wrinkle a bit depending on the type of leaf. If you want them to stay flat press them again (when dry) until you are ready to use them.
Update: After a year our leaves from last year are still gorgeous. They have lost some of their flexibility now that they have been stored for a year but they are still surprisingly colorful. I wrote on the one below to put on our thankful tree this year!
The leaves that we only painted on one side like the one above retained their color and are more flexible and better for art projects, while the leaves painted on both sides are better for sturdy crafts like leaf lacing.
Some have become a bit brittle over time, and a few have faded a bit, but we still have lots of red, yellow, and orange leaves to play with!
There are a few other ways to preserve leaves that you can try. Check out how to preserve fall leaves with beeswax by The Magic Onions, and how to preserve fall leaves with glycerin or wax paper by Buggy and Buddy.
Ways to Use Preserved Fall Leaves
- Fall Leaf Lacing
- How to Make a Thankful Tree for Thanksgiving with Real Fall Leaves
- Watercolor and Fall Leaves Art
- Turkey Leaf Lanterns
Pressing and preserving fall leaves is an easy crafting activity for kids and adults of all ages. Once finished, you can use your preserved leaves to make lacing leaves and nature crafts like these fall leaves fish and these turkey leaf lanterns.
We have many more fall leaf projects that we will be sharing soon so get outside collecting and be sure to sign up for our newsletter below so you don’t miss anything!
This post is a part of the Get Outside & Connect Series. To find out more about it click on the link.
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