Saturday, October 01, 2011

Preserving Autumn Leaves

Our usual mode of perserving is to dip our leaves in wax, which makes for lovely leaves, but I wanted to try something new this year.
So we tried glycerin.

You only need glycerin, water, a salad plate (or plate with an edge; disposable plate style), and your leaves.


We placed our leaves on a styrofoam plate,

and mixed well a few tablespoons of glycerin with twice as much water in a little bowl.
(one part glycerin to two parts water.)

When it seemed to be stirred well, we poured some of the water mixture over our leaves.  (Save what you don't use for a future project, coming soon!)

After arranging the leaves to make sure they were flat (not bent or edges turned under),


we placed another plate of the same size over our first to weigh them down into the glycerin - this cuts down on how much solution you need to use.

We let our leaves stay in the glycerin water for two days,

and then took them out, and blotted them dry.

At this point the leaves were very soft and limp.

We set ours out on our nature table, and as the day wore on, they dried and started to curl at the edges a bit.

Some were too curled (sort of closing up), so some we flipped over (to unbend), and some we sat something on top of, to keep them from curling too much.

After this day of being out of the glycerin, they were ready and fully preserved.

They're pliable and soft, and the feel of them is similar to silk flowers.

They're now ready for games, crafts, and nature art.

I look forward to sharing our ideas with you!


  1. What a great idea! I love the colors of those leaves and I'm always trying to think of different things to do with them. We have used them in lanterns for Martinmas in the past. So pretty!

  2. Where do you find the glycerin?

  3. Glycerin can be found commonly in the first aid section of grocery stores... near the rubbing alcohol and bandaids. If you don't see it, ask the pharmicist! :)

  4. Love it! Autumn leaves make such cool decorations, I'm going to have to try this.

  5. Not to be daft but, is vegetable glycerin the same? I use veggie glycerin to preserve cleaning potions and such...same thing?

  6. Love this idea! Bookmarking it for future reference… xo

  7. I love much better (and less messy) than beeswax. We found the most gorgeous leaves the other day. Guess I need to get some glycerin...stat. :)

  8. We bought some glycerin YEARS (yikes!) ago for making bubbles. Now where did I put that stuff...?

    I'm gonna link to this in the round-up on preserving leaves that I'm writing for Crafting a Green World for next week. Love it!

  9. Pretty! Our leaves have just started to change colors. We collected some yesterday and started a batch preserving like this. Can't wait to see what you make!

    Little Wonders' Days

  10. Sounds like a fun idea, I am hoping to get out on a leaf gathering walk soon, I think it would be fun to try both the wax and glycerin methods, thanks for sharing! ~April

  11. Oooh - nice! And I happen to have a big bottle of glycerin in the cupboard (for bubbles), so off to get some leaves :-)

  12. Wow! This looks so much easier than beeswax. Just what we've been looking for!

  13. This is so weird..I just did this yesterday for the first time and then spotted your blog about this today! Years ago I saw a great project, maybe in Martha Stewart or something similar, where after preserving the leaves, a grommet was made on either side of a leaf, the leaf was rolled around a linen napkin, and a chopstick or sturdy twig was inserted through each grommet to hold the napkin in place. They looked gorgeous on a table for Thanksgiving or any other fall event.

  14. We used to iron the leaves between two sheets of waxed paper to preserve them. Seems easier. :-)


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!