Although many people dry and press autumn leaves to use in crafts, dried leaves tend to be a bit brittle and breakable. A better method involves using glycerin. Learn how to do so in this project.
What you needOne or more bottles of glycerin, depending on the number of leaves you wish to preserve (Glycerin is sometimes a little difficult to find in stores. Ask at your pharmacy if you can't find it.)
A flat shallow pan (a rectangular glass baking dish works well)
Something to use as a weight (A heavy glass plate works well, or use any heavy waterproof object that will fit in the pan. A second rectangular glass baking pan that is a bit smaller and can nest inside the first plan also works great.)
Plenty of leaves (leave the stems on)
Plastic bag large enough to hold the pan
When leaves are preserved with glycerin, they stay soft and pliable, which allows you to use them for a longer period of time. You can use this method on colorful autumn leaves, or as a way of preserving green leaves. Once you’ve preserved a batch of leaves, you can use them to make a beautiful wreath or other decorative accessory for your home. The process is quite easy, and can be a great way of creating a lot of leaves for crafting purposes without spending much money.
1. Mix together one part glycerin and two parts water. Pour this solution into the shallow pan.
2. Submerge the leaves in the solution. They will float, so you will need to weigh them down with a heavy object. You can use heavy glass plates directly on the leaves, or use lighter plates with something heavy placed on top of them. Or, if you are using a glass rectangular baking dish, you can weigh the leaves down by nesting another slightly smaller glass baking dish inside. This will keep the leaves submerged, while letting you watch the progress of the leaves through the glass bottom of the second pan. Then, place the pan inside of a plastic bag to prevent the water from evaporating.
3. Keep the leaves submerged in the glycerin water solution for about two or three days. Then check them, paying attention to how they feel. If you are using autumn leaves, you should check to see if the leaves feel pliable and soft, or if they still feel like dry leaves. If they are not supple yet, return them to the solution along with the weight. Keep them submerged for another two or three days, then check again. You’ll also be able to see a change in the coloration of the leaf. When this coloration change permeates the entire leaf, it is complete.
4. Remove the preserved leaves from the solution, and blot them dry with a soft cloth or paper towel. They should feel pliable and soft. You can preserve another batch of leaves in the same solution if desired.
5. Use your beautiful preserved leaves to make a wreath or other home decorations. You can also store the preserved leaves in a box until you are ready to use them for crafting purposes. These leaves should stay nice for at least several years when preserved in this fashion. Of course, make sure they have dried completely before storing.