5 Ways to Preserve Colorful Hudson Valley Leaves for Fall

When the fall foliage has passed its peak, keep autumn alive until winter by preserving leaves for decorations and displays.

November in the Hudson Valley brings with it the end of vibrant trees and landscapes, but that doesn’t mean your house dΓ©cor has to fade as well. From front doors to table displays, autumnal colors bring warmth and festivity to our decoration as fall nears its end. Instead of using artificial leaves to make those reds, oranges, and yellows last a little longer, try one of these leaf preservation methods to prolong the colors of the harvest season with items you can find in your backyard.

Method 1: Pressing

The simplest method of preservation, pressing leaves is easy and requires minimal supplies – in fact, you can just use a book lying around your house. First, make sure your leaves are completely dry before adding them to your book or flower press, then just sandwich them between two pages and wait for a day or two before taking them out. For the best results, just put one leaf in between each page, and be careful when you remove them because they can become delicate. Pressing is great for creating flat leaves, but other methods are more useful for preserving color.

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Method 2: Glycerin

For maintaining those vibrant warm colors, try a glycerin bath instead. It may sound highly involved, but this method is not all that complicated; just mix one part glycerin to two parts water and soak your leaves. Leaves should be left in the mixture for upwards of three days, but no more than five and, once they are taken out, allow them to dry completely before using them in crafts. Not only does the glycerin bath preserve the color of the leaves, but also the texture as they should still feel soft and malleable.

Method 3: Wax

There are a couple of ways to preserve leaves with wax, either with wax paper or with beeswax. For the first option, sandwich dry leaves between two sheets of wax paper and use a hot iron to press down on both sides of the paper, making sure that the wax melts enough to transfer to the leaves. This method is great for preserving a lot of leaves quickly, but not the best for keeping the color, as the wax layer is thin. Alternatively, you could dip your leaves in wax after melting pure beeswax in a double boiler apparatus. Make sure to shake off the excess wax when you pull the leaves out and hang them by their stems to dry. Dipping leaves in wax creates colorful, three-dimensional shapes that are great for garlands.

Method 4: Lamination

Laminating your leaves is a quick and easy option if you have the supplies lying around already. Get out your laminator and make sure your leaves are dry before feeding them through the plastic. Once they are pressed, simply cut around the shapes while leaving a small border around each leaf to maintain the seal. Not only does this method create a shiny and colorful final product, but the leaves are durable and not prone to ripping after lamination.


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Method 5: Sealant

Finally, using a sealant is another great method if you are looking to adhere your leaves to something else – think Mod Podge or other clear craft glues. Lay your leaves out on a tablecloth, a picture frame, a vase, or anything else to which you might want to add a fall flair and paint or spray on your glue, making sure to completely coat the leaves. Once dry, you are left with a shiny, textured display made with real leaves. Just beware that some glues tend to darken in color over time.

Related: Get Festive Crafting These 6 Fall Garlands in the Hudson Valley

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