Learning how to dry leaves and getting creative can be a fun activity for you and the kids. I discuss how to dry out leaves and flowers using various methods.
Preserved leaves are great for arts & crafts. They can add to plain home decor, or be used as detailing on a handmade gift. A craft project, especially with colorful autumn leaves, is always a fun way to spend some relaxing time.
Best of all, the materials needed are very affordable and most likely you already have them at home. Let’s get crafty.
Things you Need for Drying Leaves
There are several methods for how to dry out leaves and flowers, but they all use basic household items. The most important material is of course the leaves themselves and each fall season they are in abundance.
Below are some of the common items you will need for pressing leaves.
- Beautiful Leaves
- Wax Paper
- Newspaper or Paper Towels
- Heavy Books
6 Ways How to Dry Leaves
Below are some of the easiest ways for how to dry out leaves. Depending on how much time you have and the final leaf texture that you want, you can decide which one is best for you.
Air Dry the Leaves
Although this is one of the slowest methods for leaf preservation, it has the biggest advantage. Which is, the leaves get to keep their 3D shape. An example of this is when making a centerpiece where you don’t want the leaves to be pressed flat. Therefore making this method the best.
Carefully tie the leaves together with a piece of string. Then, either lay them on a plate or hang them by a window that lets through lots of light and air.
It is important to keep them away from direct sunlight to avoid faded colors. They should be dry, and ready to get creative with, in about 3 days.
Press the Leaves Flat
Pressing leaves is a great way to get leaves ready to use in artwork. Unfortunately, it does take a long time to get the leaves completely dry. But on the bright side, you will make your leaf completely flat and it is also one of the simplest options.
Simply place a single leaf or flower between two folded pages of newspaper or two sheets of paper towels. Then put it in between the pages of a heavy book, such as a dictionary.
For more moist leaves and flowers, it helps to gently replace the paper towels or newspaper every few days. If you are drying several leaves at once be sure to leave enough book pages in between.
Use a Flower Press
If pressing leaves is something you do regularly then it worth considering investing in a flower press. These are affordable and readily available from craft stores. If you really are creative then you could also make your own.
Although using a ‘proper’ press is similar to drying leaves inside a book. The press is heavier and has more space for pressed leaves in a single layer. It also allows for more air circulation making this a better choice for how to quickly dry leaves.
Here too, you need to protect the leaves between two layers of paper towels newspaper, replacing them when necessary.
Dry Leaves in a Microwave
Maybe you are an impatient crafter and are wondering how to dry leaves fast. Yes, then this method is the best option for you. Using the microwave method is great for fresh larger leaves. Do not be tempted to use dry fall leaves when using this method.
Fill a cup with cold water. Again you will need to put the leaf or leaves between two double sheets of kitchen towel. Now lay them on a microwavable plate and place both the cup of water and the plate into the microwave oven.
You should never set the timer to run for more than 30 seconds at a time. Once you have started the process stay close by and repeat the process in short spurts as necessary and until the leaf is dry.
It is extremely important that you make sure there is always enough water in the cup since thinner and smaller leaves can catch fire with this simple method.
Iron Fresh Leaves
One of the disadvantages of drying leaves is that they can tend to lose some of their vibrant colors. However, ironing leaves is one of the exceptions to the rule. Although do not try to rush this method by setting the iron too hot or they will turn brown on you.
Place leaves between two sheets of wax paper and lay them on the ironing board. To avoid burning the leaf, cover with a dry bath towel before ironing.
Flip the leaf package every 2 minutes until it is dry. Don’t worry about the wax residue from the paper getting onto the leaf as this will help to preserve its color.
Preserving Leaves with Glycerin
When you want to keep the soft texture of the leaf then preserving leaves with the glycerin method is definitely the best way.
In a shallow tray combine 1 part glycerin and 2 parts warm water (you need the water to be warm enough to allow the glycerin to mix with it). You only require a thin layer of the mixture, just enough to cover the number of leaves that you are preserving.
Once your leaves are in soak it is important to keep the leaves submerged. Therefore, place another tray or plate on top and weigh down if necessary. It is worth noting that the mixture can be reused, so if you have a lot to do, don’t worry.
Now walk away, as you will need to leave them to sit for several days, the minimum being 3 days. But, don’t leave them too long though or your leaves will start to turn a golden brown color. Once your leaves are preserved they will be realistic and supple.
What Can you do with Dried Leaves?
So, you now have a whole bunch of leaves dried and ready to be used. Here are a few ideas for your natural crafts material.
- Decorate a Plain Lampshade
- Make Personalized Bookmarks
- Frame them for DIY Home Decor
- Use the Leaf shapes as Paint Stamps
- Customize Coasters
- Put together a Flower Arrangement
People Also Ask (FAQs)
If you have never used fall leaves for arts and crafts before, below are some commonly asked questions about preserving leaves.
Does hairspray preserve leaves?
It is possible to preserve leaves with hair spray although you will need to apply several layers. It isn’t a long-lasting method and ideally, you will need to respray every few days to keep them fresh looking.
Can you preserve leaves with PVA glue?
Applying several layers of PVA glue to fallen leaves is one method to preserve them. However, they will start to darken over time so consider if that is an issue for your chosen purpose.
How do you dry leaves and keep their color?
The best way to dry leaves without losing their beautiful fall colors is to iron them. This is also one of the faster methods for drying leaves and requires very few materials.
Drying leaves is a great fall activity that can be very inexpensive yet very creative. Most methods for drying leaves only require a few basic materials making this a very accessible crafts project even for those on a budget.