Fall Leaves and Mod Podge Magic!

Use Mod Podge to save those beautiful red, yellow, orange and purple fall leaves for this year and the next and the next.

Toss a few newspapers in the back of the car.  Anywhere you find gorgeous leaves, gather them and place them between pages of the newspaper.  Place another group of papers on top to provide just enough weight to flatten the leaves gently and prevent them from curling.

When you get home, carefully move your stack of papers to an area where they will be undisturbed for a couple weeks. No need to press under heavy books unless you just want to - but highly recommended. 

I do not press leaves I am going to  scatter about on tables, I just let them dry between pages of newspaper.  The newspaper prevents curling and cracking but keeps some of the original texture so they appear more "leaf like".

REVISED OCTOBER 2012!

Although I have had very good luck gathering and drying leaves using the method suggested above, I have received a few notes over the years from people who have not had similar results.  So I am adding these specific instructions.

Pick your leaves from the ground or the tree but be certain they are very fresh and have not curled or dried at all.  Fresh, flat, supple leaves - just as if they were picked in June!!!  

If your leaves are wet, dry them off before placing in the newsprint

Immediately place them in a single layer (not touching) between sheets of newsprint.   This is very, very important and why, as mentioned, I carry newsprint in the car whenever I am planning to collect leaves.  A loose pile of collected leaves will dry beyond the point of saving with in a very, very short time - an hour may be too long in some cases.

I also recommend pressing under several books for at least two weeks.  Although I have had very good luck with leaves that I have left in the newsprint without pressing,  this may not work for everyone, so - press those leaves!!  I usually let mine sit much longer than two weeks because I plan to use them the following year!  If you have had a very wet year, you may want to give your leaves three weeks.

Two to three weeks should be plenty of time for pressing - any less and your results with the Mod Podge application may be disappointing.  I have saved leaves in my pressing pad for up to a year before applying Mod Podge.

For pressing leaves, flowers and foliage really flat, I use an old sketch pad and press under heavy books for a couple weeks. But newspaper works just as well.

Now for the Mod Podge magic part!  Once the leaves are dry, gently brush on a coat of matte original Mod Podge, place on a sheet of wax paper,  and let dry. Depending on the thickness of the coat and the humidity, drying should take only about an hour.

Turn over and brush another coat over the back surface and let dry.  Repeat with a second coat on each side of your leaf.

It's like magic!  Your leaf becomes flexible and supple again, and the original color reappears! And your leaf will last and last for years!

I have never sealed mine with acrylic spray, but you may wish to do so with yours.  So far, I haven't found it necessary.

ADDED September 23, 2012!

While "preserving" a new batch of fall leaves gathered and pressed last fall, I accidentally left a glob of partially dried Mod Podge skin on the leaf surface.  

And the attempt to remove it after it had dried resulted in a very happy discovery!

Visit this new post to see how to make more magic with dried leaves, Mod Podge and food coloring!

Here is a sneak preview!

Fall Leaves:Mods Podge: Food Coloring

 

Remember, these are not leaves!  They are 100% Mod Podge film tinted with food coloring!

 

Check out these ideas for fall leaves and Mod Podge: mason jar candles and  a beautiful wreath.

Added October 2013 - I just posted a tutorial here for mounting extra special leaves to artist canvas.

And here is how to make your leaves look frosty and sparkly!

And ideas for Easter eggs!  AND  Wall Storage folders! AND Angels!  AND Fall Theme Pinatas

Did you know that Mod Podge is now available world wide!  Here is a link to a store locator to assist in finding a source near you - where ever you live!

Plaid International Locator

 

I have beautifully colored

I have beautifully colored coleus, I wonder if this would work for them. Can't hurt to try, right?

Not sure about coleus - how

Not sure about coleus - how well it will dry.  Never tried it and can certainly understand why you would want to experiment however!!!  So many amazing colors and designs.  If it workd - soooo beautifuyl!!!  Worth mounting on canvas!  Let me know, please.

Do these turn out supple

Do these turn out supple enough to make leaf flowers out of? (It involves a lot of bending and whatnot)

The product looks beautiful!

Kristin, to be honest I do

Kristin, to be honest I do not know!!  The film is actually quite plyable and bendable, but I have not tried using it in the way you are suggesting.  Give it a try!!!  Maybe you will bring something new to the "craft table"!

I absolutely love this idea

I absolutely love this idea and so my daughters and I began the process. I'm almost 2 weeks into drying my leaves and my big beautiful red maple leaves are now almost black. Do you have any idea what I might have done wrong? They were freshly picked and pressed within 10 min. I just don't know what happened.

Linda, I don't think you have

Linda, I don't think you have done anything wrong as far as the color is concerned.  I always always press my leaves between layers of newspaper or sketchpads made of newspaper like paper.  I can tell you that quite often my leaves do not look all that great once dried - the colors are muted - reds often look brown etc.  But once i add a layer of mod Podge, the original color seems to return.  Over time, some reds will fade more to a brown red but still pretty.  But I have had no experience with a maple leaf turning almost black.  could be the species or chemical reaction taking place in the leaf.  I just don't know.  But - once they are dry, do try applying a coat of mod podge and see what happens.  I am finding from the experiences of  others that not all leaves work equally well but usually maple is reliable.

I love your ideas!! Do you

I love your ideas!! Do you think that leaves treated with Mod Podge would keep well between two pieces of glass or framed? I think they would be beautiful...

Jeannie, that is a great

Jeannie, that is a great question!  I can't see a reason why they shouldn't be fine framed under glass.  I just finished a tutorial for mounting them to artist canvas (here), but i think if you make sure your Mod Podge has had several days to dry after coating the leaves, it should be fine.  You would NOT want to put wet Mod Podge under glass.

 

Hi, my daughter just made a

Hi, my daughter just made a beautiful picture out of leaves in her art class. The leaves are getting very dry & im scared its going to crumble. Amy suggestions how i can perserve her picture. Thank you!

do you paint the stem too?

do you paint the stem too?

Good question Rose!  I never

Good question Rose!  I never have applied Mod Podge to the stems as they tend to become quite tough once dry.  But you certainly could if you like! I have noticed while attempting to Mod Podge a dried stem to a curved surface that they do not become pliable as do the leaves themselves.

Love this idea! Just went

Love this idea! Just went leaf picking with my boys and want to preserve our finds. Do you have to dry the leaves before Mod Podging?

Thanks!

ABSOLUTELY YES the leaves

ABSOLUTELY YES the leaves must be placed between sheets of newsprint or similar absorbent paper immediately after picking.  Then place several heavy books on top and let sit for at least two weeks - more time the better.

Can you write on the leaves

Can you write on the leaves after they have been preserved with Modge Pdge? What type of pen would work best?

Yes Kathy!  Apparently you

Yes Kathy!  Apparently you can write on leaves after (or before) applying Mod Podge!!! Here is a link to a great post sharing how! http://www.artfulparent.com/2011/11/leaf-doodles-and-mandalas.html

Does this work with fake

Does this work with fake leaves?

HI, love the idea. what to

HI, love the idea. what to try. 1 question... what is hodge podge and where do i find it...

thanks!

The product you will need is

The product you will need is called Mod Podge and it is available in every craft store - and always at Michaels!

It is basically very similar to white glue but specially formulated for craft projects.

I suggest you purchase the original formula in matte surface.

Good day to all! Funny I

Good day to all!
Funny I saw this today as my son and I just finished a batch of Mod Podge leaves yesterday. They do turn out so pretty! A few things I do to make it easier: We put a damp paper towel in the palm of our hand holding the leaf while we paint, and we place the leaves on wax paper. If any want to stick a little, I used a metal spatula to gently lift.
My leaves aren't quite as bright as yours...maybe because I dried them in a book between paper towels instead of newspaper.
Have a great day!

Great tip about using the

Great tip about using the moist paper towel.  I almost never actually coat my leaves while holding them, but I can see how it would work well to keep little hands clean.

I brush my Mod Podge coats on by placing the leaf on newspaper or wax paper.

And yes, wax paper is perfect to use as a drying surface.  I place it under ALL my Mod Podge projects.

I don't know why your leaves do not appear nearly as bright as when collected, perhaps it has something to do with the species.  I use mostly maple and ginko.

Hi! These modge podge ideas

Hi! These modge podge ideas are amazing! I haven't used it since I was a kid - honestly, I forgot it even existed.

I was wondering - how well would these leaves hold up if they were used as decoration on wine glasses or glass cups? I am planning my wedding next September 2013, and think this would be wonderful - but I'm unsure how to make these work where someone could still drink from them. Any suggestions???

Thank you again for the amazing ideas!!!!

Lexi, while I like your idea

Lexi, while I like your idea to place the Mod Podge leaves on glass for use at your wedding in September next, I would caution you NOT to ever use them to decorate anything in which you plan to serve food.  Definitely not wine glasses or glass cups.

I do not believe the product is food safe to begin with and any moisture from condensation or spills would damage the Mod Podge.  I can't imagine sealants would be a good idea around food either.

But you could still use the idea to decorate your tables with vases or candles decorated with leaves - even make them guest favors.  Several brides have written me that they have done exactly that with the Mod Podge tined jars I shared in this how to post.  Even picked up by several bride tip services, so why not with leaves!

What a great idea! Can't

What a great idea! Can't imagine why I've never thought about this before. I'm going to run right out my door as the leaves start to change more here in Maine and start picking up leaves to do this with. Thanks so much for the tip.

What a wonderful and easy

What a wonderful and easy idea. I love the fall leaves and this is a great way to preserve them to enjoy. Can't wait til the leaves turn in my neck of the woods.

Wow...so much easier than the

Wow...so much easier than the glycerin method! Thanks for the inspiration and contest!

Hello my dearest Pam such a

Hello my dearest Pam
such a great idea, i didn't know that you good use mode podge to preserve the colours.
But i had known you better, impressing girl!!!!!LOL
I saw this smart great tute of yours , by the link of the artfull parent.
I don't know you knew that allready.
but here is the link: http://www.artfulparent.com/2011/11/leaf-doodles-and-mandalas.html
to add her drawings and doodlings is i think a step further but i love the both ideas.
In Haarlem there aren't too many trees. In Utrecht they were too many. It's never satusfaction the numbers i supose.LOL
But it's here much better for my longs, i have less troubles here, because of the sea air.
thank you for the great tute and the sharing and your brilliant pictures and ideas
XO's
jet

Thanks so much, jet, for

Thanks so much, jet, for alerting me to the mention on Artful Parent.  I love the results she got!  And had it not been for you, I might have missed it!

I have been playing with Mod Podge as well - saving those really weird leaves I found and shared last fall.  Will be posting soon!

I used to press leaves in

I used to press leaves in between pieces of parchment paper that I would stick in random books on my shelves. I used them on my hand made greeting cards. Mine were Chinese Tallow leaves. I did nothing to preserve them, except put each card in a sleeve and seal with a sticker. I made them about 15 years ago. I found one other day, opened it, and much to my surprise the leave was still beautiful red and yellow and not falling apart. I may have to put that card in a little frame.

I love your idea of using them for decoration.

I found you through

I found you through Pinterest!..;o)...am now following you on flickr, tried your RSS feed..but it doesn't seem to be working!?
You have a lovely blog and I look forward to trying some of your fabulous ideas...thanks for sharing.
Georgie.x

This will be a wonderful

This will be a wonderful project for the family! Even our 3 yr.old twins can help on this one. We love the fall and now we have something to do with those beautiful leaves we gather on our walks. Thank you!!!

I found your page through

I found your page through pinterest and I would love to win some Mod Podge! Thanks also for the tutorial!

I never knew this! I've been

I never knew this! I've been looking for the perfect way to preserve the colors of fall! Thanks for the GREAT tip!
Christy

Exactly what I was looking

Exactly what I was looking for!! Going on a New England Fall Cruise in two weeks and wanted to save some of the leaves!!

Thank you for the

Thank you for the instructions. I will start collecting leaves very soon and buy Mod Podge. Just found your blog and love it!

Have you ever been to

Have you ever been to www.ModPodgeRocks.com? Its sound like your kind of blog to me. Great projects too!

Yes!  Thank you Dana.  I have

Yes!  Thank you Dana.  I have been following Amy for a long time and have even been featured a few times.  I am a huge fan both of Amy and of Mod Podge Rocks!

great idea! I am anxious for

great idea! I am anxious for the leaves to turn.

I love Mod Podge! I can't

I love Mod Podge! I can't wait to try this!

My 2 year old granddaughter

My 2 year old granddaughter gave me about a dozen hand picked dried (dead) leaves from our backyard. I'd love to preserve this gift, and although I know what to do with recently picked leaves, the deads ones are a puzzle. My hope was to be eventually be able to place them in a shadow box or frame under glass. Any suggestions? Thanks for your interest and assistance.

I just found this page - this

I just found this page - this is wonderful - I've been saving leaves so I'm all set - that is right after I hit the craft store - to replace my obviously ANCIENT bottle of Mod Podge - seriously it is yellow in the jar and the smell well lets not go there - I think it may have been mine from high school or something and I turned 49 this year - LOL! Gross :)

Fabulous! Too bad we don't

Fabulous! Too bad we don't have much in terms of fall leaves here.

I already have leaves

I already have leaves drying/pressed from a leaf themed week I had last week. Now I know how to make them last longer. Thanks! I just saw this post on One Pretty Thing. I love going into people's wonderful "archives" of posts! Great stuff out there, it just gets lost by time!

Rebecca

Thanks for the tips! I've got

Thanks for the tips! I've got a bunch of leaves drying for Thanksgiving decor!!

I just wanted to thank

I just wanted to thank you...I linked to this post today along with my poem about pressing leaves!

http://poemfarm.blogspot.com/2010/10/free-verse-week-201-preserving-fall...

Yours,
Amy

How exciting! I've only used

How exciting! I've only used the gloss mod podge and have always been curious about the other types. What fun!

I love this project and can't wait to try it out this fall. Thank you for the idea and inspiration!

Thanks for the instructions!

Thanks for the instructions! I'd love to do this to make decorations for a party we're having in October but I don't think I'll have enough time to let the leaves dry before then.

Wow that's a really nice

Wow that's a really nice trick. I love to collect fall leaves but they are so tough to handle after they dries out. But I have a question, can I use Mod Podge-Satin in stead of Matte? I will really appreciate if you will share your experience. Thanks in advance.

What a wonderful crafting

What a wonderful crafting tip! I had no idea. Thank you for sharing!

We loved this idea but have

We loved this idea but have not had positive results. We collected, painted both sides and let them dry. They looked gorgeous!! We moved them to another room and a few days later when we returned they were dried out and very frail. Any tips? Thanks

 I am so sorry to hear that

 I am so sorry to hear that you had this disappointing experience.  A couple things may have contributed to the problem.

First I want to make sure that you did press your leaves between sheets of newspaper and weighted with books for about two weeks before using them, as instructed.

And it is very important to use two thick coats of Mod Podge on each side.

In my own experience, I have found that two thick coats on each side of the leaves is very important in preserving them. I learned that fact the hard way on my wreath.  I used whisper thin coats of regular Mod Podge on several leaves as I was trying to use up the last of the bottle.  Those leaves have not done very well on the wreath on my front door, becoming dry, crackly and brittle.  Thick coats are key. Thickly coated leaves on the wreath seem to be doing just fine.

If your leaves will be displayed anywhere there is moisture in the air, like outside or a steamy kitchen,  it would be wise to use outdoor Mod Podge.  It does a better job of sealing out the elements. And a coat of Acrylic spray would be a good idea as well for even more protection.

I have had no problem keeping these leaves beautifully in my home for almost a year now.  Those pictured at the top of the post were 8 months old when I made the photograph.

 

 

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