April 30, 2010
to enjoy enhanced features like these.
Glycerin Leaf Preservation
Glycerin is a liquid that you’re likely to find at your local drugstore. Beyond its soothing medicinal uses, it’s also great for keeping colorful fall leaves from drying out, so you can create beautiful seasonal displays. This technique does require a bit of experimentation; some leaves simply don’t react well with glycerin. Collect a variety just in case.
Colorful leaves with stems still attached
Liquid glycerin (available at drug stores)
Flat pan or glass baking dish
Pebbles or other weighted items
Surfactant (available at gardening stores)
Silica Leaf Preservation
The silica dries out the leaves while allowing them to keep their color and shape. Try following up the silica treatment with a dried flower coating or clear spray-on glaze to help enhance and protect your dried leaves from breakage and fading in the future.
Colorful leaves with short stems
Microwave safe container
Silica gel (available at craft stores)
Dried flower coating or clear spray-on glaze (available at craft stores)
Tip: Silica gel is typically a mix of white and blue crystals. If the blue crystals remain blue, it can be used again. When blue crystals turn pink it means they have absorbed all the moisture they can. To reactivate the crystals, spread them out in a shallow pan and place in the oven at 250ºF for approximately 5 hours, or until the pink crystals turn blue. If you choose to save your silica gel to use for another drying project, keep it in an airtight container and out of reach of children and pets.
Tip: If you’d rather not use the microwave for this project, you can follow the same directions above and replace the microwave step. Cover the container with an airtight lid and put in a safe, dry place. Make sure to keep it out of reach of children and pets. Drying can take anywhere from 2-7 days, depending on the thickness of the leaves. Just check on your leaves periodically to make sure they are not over drying. Most leaves will probably take only 2-3 days.
Elegant Display Possibilities
Put your final pieces on display and experience your local autumn colors indoors throughout the season and beyond.
Sweet & Simple: Mount leaves on handmade paper with delicate straight pins; add a handwritten botanical inscription below each leaf and frame for display. To try your hand at the ancient craft of papermaking check out the simple instructions in Handmade Paper.
Fun & Layered: Create a fall collage and show off your creativity with our printable patterned backgrounds for mounting and framing your preserved leaves.
Once you’ve mastered these drying techniques, give them a try with flowers and other plant life you would like to enjoy longer.
Family Tree Tablecloth & Runner
Simple Sun Print Project
Fall Paper Garlands
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