Make Your Own Preserved Leaf Art

As winter fast approaches, it’s hard to resist using some of the gorgeous fallen leaves in decorating. See how to make two styles of handmade preserved leaf displays.

Collect Leaves

Go out on a walk and collect as many leaves of different colors and shapes as possible.

Gather Materials

Preserving leaves in glycerin is a technique that’s been around for a while. In theory, the glycerin preserves not only the color, but also keeps the leaves supple and soft, instead of brittle and dry. Use a ratio of 1:2, glycerin to water. Glycerin can be found in the baking aisle of a craft store or at hardware stores.

Mix Glycerin and Water

Mix the water and glycerin together in the bottom of a flat pan. Submerge the leaves in a single layer.

Tip: Crush the Stems

Despite using a few different techniques, the colors may not stay as bright as when freshly picked. The leaves will be soft and supple, but the yellows can tend to get muddy, the oranges and reds may turn brownish. For the best results possible, try crushing the stems of the leaves so that the glycerin is soaked up as fully as possible.

Submerge Leaves

Next, use something flat to weigh down the leaves, so that they stay completely submerged in the glycerin/water mixture. (Tip: Buy two disposable aluminum pans, so that they nest.) Make sure all of the leaves are submerged completely, and if need be, apply a few weights on top. Let the leaves soak in the mixture for 3-5 days.

Prepare Frames

Simple white frames are easy to find at craft stores, and often go on sale. Cut out some white card stock to use as the background.

Make a Leaf Stamp

The advantage of the glycerin preserved leaves is that they aren’t brittle like pressed leaves, which makes them perfect to use as a stamp. Shimmery metallic craft paints make a lovely vignette.

Paint Front and Back

To make sure the veins show through in the stamp, paint the backside of the leaf.

Apply the Stamp

Carefully lay the leaf, painted side down, in the center of the white cardstock.

Press Lightly

Gently press a paper towel on top of the leaf to press the paint onto the paper. Not too hard – you want the pattern of the leaf to show, and pressing too hard would result in a flat print of the leaf.

Light and Lovely

Using light pressure allows areas of coverage and relief, so the details of the leaf are visible.

A Mix of Metallics

Using gold, copper and silver, and three different sizes of leaves, the final result is a grouping of three unique leaf prints.

Pretty and Preserved

Not only does this method result in a beautiful leaf print, but it also produces a preserved leaf that looks almost gilded.

Apply Glue to the Painted Leaf

To utilize the actual leaf itself, apply a swipe of glue to the non-painted side.

A Striking Display

Affix the leaf to a piece of black cardstock. Two types of preserved leaf art for the labor of one!

Enjoy Fall Year-Round

Now you can enjoy fall color year-round in framed artwork that you made with your own hands.