Would you like to keep a breathtaking Autumn color parade for a little bit longer? Here's how to preserve Fall leaves using 9 easy methods.
1. Pressing leaves.
It's the easiest way to preserve them, but colors do fade a bit. If you want a quick and mess-free method, this one is definitely for you. Just put leaves between book pages and make sure there's a fair amount of weight pressed on leaves. Leave them for at least 12 hours. Leaves preserved using that method are too brittle to use for crafts afterward, so if you're planning to make a leaf-themed craft, please just use one of the other methods.
2. PVA or starch glue method.
For this method, make sure to use fresh and dry leaves. If you just picked them, let them dry for 30 minutes and then proceed to cover them with PVA (craft) glue using a small brush. Spread a thin layer of glue evenly on both sides of the leaf. Remember to let one side dry (wait until the glue is not sticky anymore) before covering the other. If you don't have PVA glue, you can make your own starch glue.
How to make your own starch glue.
To make your own starch glue, all you need is 100 ml of cold water and 1 heaped tablespoon of cornstarch. Mix it vigorously and make sure there are no lumps. Use it straight away, because this mixture gets sticky quite quickly! Cover leaves with a thin layer of starch glue and leave them to dry.
3. Glycerin bath.
Mix 1 part glycerin to 2 parts of water. Use a small container or a large bucket, depending on how much leaves you want to preserve. Make sure all leaves are completely submerged in the solution. Leave them soaking up the mixture for at least 3 days and then air dry them on paper towels. This method makes colors more vibrant and they last for long!
4. Drying in the microwave.
Use as fresh leaves as possible. Place them between two sheets of paper towels and microwave them for 30 seconds. Please don't leave the microwave unattended. Leaves microwaved for too long can catch fire! It all depends on how moist they are, so keep an eye on them. If they're not completely dry after the first 30 seconds, keep microwaving them in short intervals and keep checking!
You will need a laminator and laminating pouches. Make sure leaves are dry and don't have stipules attached to them (it may be too much for the laminator to handle, you can still try it, though). When you ready, simply place leaves in the pouches and ran them through a laminator. Cons? Leaves lose color quickly.
6. Wax coating or wax dipping.
This method will preserve colors quite nicely and it's very simple. All you have to do is melt down a pot of paraffin wax and gently submerge leaves into the mixture. Sidenote: You can safely hold the stipule of the leaf while doing it or you can use kitchen tongs. Make sure to use an old pan or pot that you were planning to throw out, anyway. Paraffin will ruin it! Pull leaves out as soon as they are evenly covered with wax. Let them air dry on the baking parchment until they're completely dry.
7. Wax paper and iron.
Place leaves between two sheets of wax paper. Place an old (thin) kitchen towel or handkerchief on top and iron until wax is melted and leaves are completely covered. Leave them to dry for 20 minutes. Sidenote: Wax paper is not as popular in the UK as it is in the US. You can buy some online or you can make your own.
How to make your own waxing paper at home? Simply use two sheets of a regular baking paper (parchment) and sprinkle a thin layer of paraffin, beeswax or soy flakes between them. Place leaves you want to preserve between the sheets, place an old handkerchief on top, and iron on low until leaves are covered in wax.
8. Silica gel method.
This one is a little bit controversial because it involves putting silica gel into the microwave. I'm not sure about heating up something you shouldn't eat, but still, it's possible to preserve leaves that way. All you have to do is place silica gel droplets (make it 2,5 cm thick) in the microwaveable container. Put leaves on top and cover them with more silica gel. Cover them completely, if possible. Put the container in the microwave as well as one glass worth of water in a separate (microwaveable) container. Don't use any lids while microwaving. Microwave for around 30 seconds to 1 minute. Check your leaves and heat up further, if necessary. Let leaves to cool a bit, take them out and enjoy!
9. Pressing & clear spray paint it!
After you pressed your leaves between book pages for at least 12 hrs, you can finish the look by spray paint them with clear acrylic paint. It will make leaves last for longer and help them keep vibrant colors. You can also clear spray paint leaves after using the microwave and silica gel method. Happy crafting!