You can continue to enjoy the beauty of fall when the season ends by keeping the colorful leaves you collected. By adding wax and other products, you can keep their colors and shapes for several weeks or more. Fall leaves kept in this way are an economical, but very pretty type of decoration that you can enjoy even when the trees are completely bare.
Method 1 of 6: Store the leaves with waxed paper
Step 1. Choose fresh leaves
Start with leaves that are still fresh, colorful, and have just fallen from the branch. By pressing the leaves with waxed paper, you will be able to retain their shimmering colors.
Step 2. Dry the leaves
Lay the sheets in a single layer between two sheets of paper towels to dry them if they are still wet. Make sure the sheets don't overlap, as this may stick them together. Use an iron on medium heat and run it over each side of the leaves for 3-5 minutes to absorb excess moisture.
- By drying the leaves at the very beginning, you allow them to retain their color and quality once they are sealed in the waxed paper.
- Do not use the steam available on the iron, as it will moisten the sheets. Just run the iron over the sheets, without the steam.
- Touch the leaves after ironing them for 3-5 minutes. If the sheet does not look dry, iron the iron a little for a few minutes.
Step 3. Place the sheet between two sheets of waxed paper
It is not necessary to procure which side of waxed paper should be in contact with the foil, since both sides are covered with wax. Place the sheets to be dried in a single layer between two sheets of waxed paper. Leave a little space around each sheet. The two sheets of waxed paper should be able to stick together.
Step 4. Insert the two sheets of waxed paper between two sheets of machine paper
You can also use kraft paper or any other type of thick paper. Make sure that the entire surface of the waxed paper is well covered with normal paper, so that the wax on it does not stick to the iron. Make sure the tree leaves are spaced enough apart and arranged in a single layer.
Step 5. Seal the waxed paper with the iron
Set the iron to medium heat and iron both sides of the paper to seal the waxed paper. Keep the iron moving to avoid burning the wax. Heat each side for three minutes, turn it over and repeat carefully on the other side.
- Do not use the steam from your iron, it must be used dry.
- Handle hot paper with care. If you have sensitive skin, you should wear gloves to protect your hands.
Step 6. Let the wax dry
The wax has melted around the leaves a bit and will adhere to them as it cools. Wait until the wax is cool before handling it.
Step 7. Cut around the leaves
Once the paper is cool to the touch, remove any sheets of machine paper that are on top of the sheets of waxed paper. Carefully cut around the leaves using scissors or a utility knife.
- Leave a small border of waxed paper around the edges of each sheet to keep it sealed between the two layers of waxed paper.
- You can also try peeling the waxed paper from the leaves instead of cutting it out. There will be a layer of wax left on the leaves which should be enough to keep the leaves.
Method 2 of 6: Cover the sheets with paraffin
Step 1. Choose fresh leaves
Start with colorful leaves that have just fallen from the branch. By covering the leaves with paraffin, you will be able to retain their shimmering colors. Dry them with paper towels before you start.
Step 2. Melt the paraffin in a disposable dish
You can buy a 500g box of paraffin in a fine arts store or even a supermarket. Melt in a dish on the heat or in the oven at low temperature.
- To make the paraffin melt more slowly, cut it into thick slices and spread them on the bottom of the dish you are using.
- If you don't have a single-use pan, you can use a cake pan that you no longer want to use for cooking. Wax can damage the dish, so you should not use a dish that you use regularly for cooking.
Step 3. Take the melted paraffin out of the oven
Be very careful, because the melted paraffin is very hot. Place it gently on the counter. Be very careful not to tip the dish upside down, especially if you have pets or children.
Step 4. Dip each leaf in melted paraffin
Hold a leaf by its stem and dip it in liquid paraffin several times. Make sure both sides of the sheet are covered with it. Avoid bringing your fingers too close to the paraffin. Repeat the operation with the remaining leaves.
Step 5. Lay the leaves down to let them dry
Lay each paraffin-coated sheet on waxed paper until it dries. Leave the leaves to dry in a well-ventilated place for several hours. When dry, the sheet should peel off the waxed paper easily. This method helps to keep the shape and color of the leaves for a long time.
To be sure of yourself, you can cover your countertop with a sheet of newspaper before placing the sheets of waxed paper on it. This double layer allows you to avoid the risk of spilling paraffin on your countertop. If you put it on the counter, it could be extremely difficult to get it out
Method 3 of 6: Use a glycerin bath
Step 1. Choose fresh leaves or a small branch with leaves
If you want to keep an entire branch of leaves, this method of preservation is easier to use than the one with paraffin. Choose a branch with shimmering, well-attached leaves.
- This method will make the colors more vivid. The yellows will become more intense and the reds and oranges more vivid.
- Find a branch that fell off the tree on its own instead of tearing one off the tree. You could damage the tree by pulling off a branch.
- Do not choose branches with diseased leaves or leaves that have suffered frost. This method does not work for leaves that have already frozen.
Step 2. Open the base of the branch
Smash the base of the branch with a hammer to split it open and expose the living part of the wood. This allows the living wood of the branch to be exposed, which will then be able to absorb the glycerin more easily. Otherwise, the solution will not be able to reach the leaves.
If you only want to preserve individual sheets, you can skip this step
Step 3. Prepare the glycerin solution
You can get vegetable glycerin at a fine arts store. To prepare the solution, add 500 ml of liquid vegetable glycerin in 2 liters of water poured into a large bucket or vase.
- Glycerin is a natural product made from plants, which makes it a rather eco-friendly option for preserving your leaves.
- If you want to preserve a larger branch, add four to five drops of mild dish soap. Dishwashing liquid acts as a surfactant by breaking down glycerin molecules so that they can penetrate the wood more easily. For best results, use a dish soap that is free of dye and fragrance. You can also use a liquid surfactant that you can find in most garden centers.
Step 4. Immerse the branch in the solution for three to five days
Allow the branch and leaves to absorb the glycerin for three to five days. Set the bucket in a shaded location while it soaks up the mixture.
If you are keeping individual sheets, you will need to weight them down to keep them submerged. Pour the solution into a dish, put the leaves in it and cover them with a plate or a lid to prevent them from floating to the surface
Step 5. Take the branch and leaves out of the solution
The colors will look more vivid and the leaves will be softer. You can use the preserved branch in your art projects, or you can tear off the leaves to use separately.
Method 4 of 6: Use a clipping method
Step 1. Choose leaves with shimmering colors
Harvest freshly fallen leaves with bright and flexible enough colors. The leaves can be more or less dry, but they should not be so dry that they break easily. Avoid leaves with holes or mold.
Step 2. Cover each side of the sheet with glue
Cutting consists of using a kind of white glue which becomes transparent as it dries. You will find them in plastic arts stores. Use a small sponge to apply a good coat of glue to each side of the leaves. Lay them on a sheet of newspaper.
- In most cases, you should apply the glue to the leaves right after you pick them up. If you wait too long, the leaf will dry out and it will turn brown and brittle.
- If the leaves are very wet, or you pulled them straight off the tree instead of waiting for them to fall, you can dry them slightly by pressing them between the leaves of a heavy book for several days.
Step 3. Let the glue dry
It will become clearer and it will not be sticky anymore.
Step 4. Repeat on the other side
Turn the sheet over and apply glue to the other side. When the second side is dry, the leaves are ready to use. This method maintains the color and shape of the leaves over a longer period.
Method 5 of 6: Microwave the leaves
Step 1. Place the sheets between two sheets of paper towels
It's a great way to dry sheets for art projects, but the colors might fade. Place the fresh leaves on two sheets of paper towels. Cover them with a single layer of paper towel.
- Use leaves that have just fallen from the tree, still colorful and flexible. Avoid leaves that begin to curl at the ends and those with holes and mold.
- For best results, leave a small space between each sheet to prevent them from sticking together while they dry.
Step 2. Microwave the leaves to dry them
Put the leaves in the microwave and heat them for 30 seconds. Then continue to heat them for five in five seconds until they are dry.
- Fall leaves generally need to be microwaved between 30 and 180 seconds before they are dry enough.
- Be extra careful when microwaveing leaves. If you leave them too long, they could catch fire.
- Leaves that look scorched have been microwaved too long. Leaves that curl at the end after being removed from the microwave have been heated there too long.
Step 3. Let the leaves sit overnight
Install the leaves in a draft-free and shady location. Leave them there overnight at least and 48 hours at most. If you observe a change in color, you should seal the sheets immediately.
Step 4. Seal the sheets with varnish spray
Spray each sheet with acrylic varnish to retain their colors. Let the leaves dry before using them to decorate or for your art projects.
Method 6 of 6: Dry the leaves with a book
Step 1. Place the sheets between two sheets of paper
This method of preservation allows the leaves to dry out, but it does not keep their colors. Place the sheets between two sheets of clean white machine paper.
- Use paper at least as thick as machine paper rather than using thin paper such as tracing paper. Otherwise, the leaves may run off and stain.
- Lay the leaves in a single layer. Do not stack or overlap them, as they will stick to each other.
- Choose sheets that are in good condition. They must have recently fallen from the tree and wet. The tip of the rod should not be dry or bent.
Step 2. Lay a thick book on the paper
A big, heavy book should do the trick. To reduce the risk of staining the book or other object you are using, as well as the work surface, place sheets of blotting paper or paper towels between the typewriter and the book. This will help you absorb the moisture from the leaves.
Step 3. Use other pressure techniques
You can press the leaves directly into the book. Use an old book that you can stain in case the leaves damage the pages. Simply slide the sheets between the pages of the book. Leave at least twenty pages between the sheets for best results.
- If you have them, directories are a great book choice.
- Put weight on the book. The pressure helps to squeeze moisture out of the leaves and keep it flat. You can use other books, bricks, or any other object with a certain weight.
Step 4. Check the result after a week
The leaves should then be dry. If they are still flexible, leave it on for several more days.