How to Preserve Leaves for Decorations

On these days when the last of the leaves are turning and slowly making their way to the ground, fall colored decorations keep my spirits up. Especially the ones we collected in the woods and took home.

My favorite part of fall are the vibrant colors. Whether set against a deep blue sky or gray clouds, they are a beautiful reminder that we are moving from a season of dark green trees with an air filled with heavy humidity and insects calling late at night, to one of crispy cold days and silent nights that feel extra dark. Now that time change has passed and it gets dark before dinner time, it doesn't matter whether or not you participate in Halloween, Michaelmas, or even celebrate Thanksgiving, adding a few fall colors to your home is worth a try to cheer up the home. 

The best way to add some fall colors is to go for things you can toss guilt free after the season. I'm thinking dried oranges and cinnamon, apple cider simmering on the stove, pumpkins, gourds, corn husks, and homemade leave decorations. As a bonus, they are also budget friendly.

Preserving Fall Leaves

You need:
Vegetable Glycerin
a heavy book
newspaper or wax paper
paper towels
fresh or already dried leaves 


1. Gather the leaves of your choice. I used both fresh and already dried leaves for this project. 

2. Fill a large bowl with one gallon of water, add 2 cups of vegetable glycerin and a few drops (3-5 drops) of surfactant to the bowl. Stir to mix.

3. Place each fresh or dried leave in the bowl, then lay on a paper towel to dry. You want to be more careful with a dried leave as they break fairly quickly.

4. Let the leaves dry for 1 to 3 hours or longer if necessary. Then, if preferred, lay them in between sheets of newspaper before placing them in the pages of your book to dry. The newspaper is optional but if you omit it, you may run the risk of messing up your book due to the moisture that is still in them. Leave the leaves in the book for a day or longer. 

5. Once they are dried you are ready to use them for your project or as decorations. My first ones are framed and my next batch will be used for window garlands in the kids' room. 
The difference in using dried and fresh leaves is that the vegetable glycerin with the surfactant helps keep the color better than if you were to just dry them. The solution also makes the leaves soft and less delicate for projects.

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