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Drying, pressing and preserving leaves

Autumn leaves are a popular decoration. Unfortunately, they decompose within a short time. However, you can counteract the course of nature. We'll show you how to dry leaves and then make them durable.

The leaves are dried differently depending on the type of tree. Because certain leaves, for example from oaks, are already dry on the ground. With other types of leaves, make sure that they are completely dry - they have a thick stem or surface that lengthens the drying process.

Press and dry leaves

Before you can make your autumn decoration durable, you should dry the leaves. Liquid causes leaves to ferment, dried leaves last longer. Professionally, you can dry leaves with a leaf press. You can also put the sheets in a thick book. Protect the book pages from stains with an underlay such as greaseproof paper.

Also, make sure that the foliage lies flat in the book. Pinch the sheets as close to the book binding as possible to prevent them from breaking. Store the closed book in a dry place.

Place kitchen paper between the sheet and the book page. This removes moisture from the foliage more quickly and the pages of the book do not subsequently curl due to the moisture escaping from the leaves.

If you don't have a leaf press or thick books, you can put the leaves between newspaper and weigh them down with heavy objects. In both cases, allow at least a week to pass before you remove the leaves from the "press". It should now be completely dry. When removing, be careful not to break the sheets.

Trend decoration: frame dried leaves

If you want to use colorful autumn leaves as a fashionable wall decoration, you can make it durable in a picture frame. To do this, glue the dried leaves to a cardboard box with a glue stick or photo glue. This should preferably be white or beige. Frame the leaf picture and hang it or place it on a shelf.

Dried leaves come into their own in picture frames.

Framed leaves look best if you use them to create a picture wall from different frames with different leaves. Hang the frames at different heights.

Dried leaves can be used in many ways. You can use them to make lanterns or printed blankets, for example. Children especially enjoy tinkering with autumn leaves. So that the foliage is more stable and durable, you should make it durable beforehand. Here you can choose between the following five methods.

1. Hairspray gives stability

Dried leaves are sensitive to touch, they are brittle and fragile. To add stability after leaves dry, spray hairspray on both sides. Wait for the spray to dry. This makes the dried leaves stable. The spray also gives the leaves a shine. Instead of hairspray, you can also use clear varnish.

2. Candle wax or wax granules

Another possibility of preservation is to cover leaves with wax. You need wax granules from the craft store or colorless candle wax for this. The procedure is the same:

  1. First, melt the wax over a water bath.
  2. Then gently pull the pressed leaves through the liquid wax.
  3. Then let the wax layer on the leaves dry, this can be done after a few seconds.

To avoid getting burned, wear gloves or use tweezers.

This method of preservation is not suitable for children! You can get burned easily.

3. Dry the sheets with adhesive film and make them durable

You can also use adhesive film from the craft supplies to make colored sheets of paper durable. The film should ideally be colorless and transparent. You can also choose colored-transparent foils to give the foliage an extravagant look. Cut two pieces from the foil about the size of the leaves.

Place the adhesive side of the film on both sides of the sheets, being careful not to create any air holes. Press the film firmly and cut off any protruding parts. Your sheets are now "laminated" to fit perfectly and will last a particularly long time.

Pressed blossoms: You can also easily dry and preserve flowers. (Source: Westend61 / imago images)

4. Preserve whole branches with glycerine

Glycerin is another tool that can be used to preserve autumn leaves. The advantage of this is that the leaves stay soft and retain their natural shine. You need a branch with young autumn leaves. Cut the end of the branch at an angle so that the glycerin can be easily absorbed.

  1. Put the sprig in a mixture of one part glycerin and two parts water.
  2. Let the whole thing stand for a few weeks and, if necessary, pour in the glycerine-water mixture.
  3. After two to four weeks, the leaves have completely absorbed the glycerin. You can recognize this by the fact that small, shiny drops form more on the leaves.

You can now use the preserved branch with leaves for table decoration, hang it up or place it in a vase for decoration.

5. Microwave dries small leaves

Drying in the microwave is particularly suitable for leaves that are very delicate and partly already well dried.

  • Position two flat, microwaveable plates side by side.
  • Place some cardboard precisely on top of each plate.
  • Place kitchen paper on top of the cardboard.
  • Now you can position the sheets on the kitchen paper.
  • Carefully place the second tile on the sheet. The result is a kind of sandwich made of sheet, cardboard, paper, leaves, paper, cardboard and sheet.
  • To create enough pressure, tie a rubber band or kitchen thread around the plates.
  • The pressing device is then placed in the microwave for 60 seconds at 800 to 900 watts.

If the leaves are not yet dry, repeat the process.