My family goes on walks together most evenings the weather permits, and lately, I’ve noticed beautiful fall leaves collecting on the ground. I brought some home and decided to use them for a dry leaf art project that I plan to use as decor for the rest of the season!
Which Leaves to Collect
When you’re searching for leaves to use for this project, be sure to choose ones that are not wet and not crispy.
We want to be able to press them flat, so if you select leaves that are already crunchy, they will likely break apart rather than be preserved. I also found that the lighter color, more vibrant leaves retained their colors better than the darker ones, which just turned darker brown. If in doubt, collect a bunch, and you can pick your favorites to use after they’ve been pressed and dried!
Another important note is that you’ll want to find leaves that are dry and not wet or moist. We don’t want to trap any water with our leaves as they’re drying or they’re not going to preserve properly.
How to Press and Dry your Leaves
This part couldn’t be any easier. After making sure your leaves are dry, put them inside the pages of a big book and close the book. Try not to let the leaves curl and get them laid out as best as you can without overlapping one another. If you want to make sure you don’t ruin your book, I recommend sandwiching your leaves between sheets of wax paper or thicker paper.
Put more books or heavy objects on top, then wait a week or so. When you check your leaves and they’re dry, flat, and no longer bend, they’re done!
How to Make Your Dry Leaf Art Project
Find a nice piece of cardstock or thicker paper. I chose to use watercolor paper because I had some on hand. Arrange your favorite leaves on the paper making sure to think about color, texture, and composition. I decided to go simple and use two colors of the same leaf for mine.
When you’re happy with the way the arrangement looks, mark a few key spots with a pencil so you can easily reassemble your arrangement when gluing. For example, I put a small dot at the tips of each leaf and the base of the stems. The easiest way I found to keep things orderly when gluing was to flip the leaves over when taking them off your page and then start gluing from the bottom-most leaf up.
Apply a medium-thick amount of ModPodge or glue on the back of each leaf with a paintbrush. Not so much that it squishes out the sides when you press it down, but enough that it will hold the leaves in place. Line up your leaves with your reference dots and then press down and hold for a few seconds. Repeat for each leaf. You might find that the leaves aren’t staying down, which we’ll fix with the next step.
When you’ve tried your darndest to get all your leaves to stay down, take two pieces of wax paper or saran wrap and sandwich your creation between them. Put them under a stack of heavy books and leave them overnight.
How to Use your Dry Leaf Art Project
I am excited to hang mine in my family room for a seasonal accent next to a watercolor I did of the same leaves. I also made a bookmark, which I love seeing each time I settle down to read. Here are some more ideas for how to use dry leaf art:
- Greeting card
- Dinner table place markers
- Recipe cards
- Journal cover or entry
- Wrapping paper