We’re ga-ga for all the multi-colored maple leaves of the season, and my older daughter, N, is likely to burst into a chorus of “red and yellow leaves” as we drive down the road. I’ve been reading up on how to preserve the leaves so that they’ll last more than a couple days and it turns out that you have a few choices, some of them being : preserve them with a glycerin solution, seal them with hot wax, press them between sheets of contact paper, or melt them between sheets of wax paper.
We had a bottle of glycerin in the cabinet for bubble-making, so I thought we’d try our hands at making glycerin leaves. I have to tell you upfront: the process was fantastic and my kids really got into it. The results, on the other hand, meh. Not so spectacular. More on that soon.
- 1/4 c. glycerin
- 1/2 c. water
- Fall leaves
- Two pans that can stack inside each other
- Spoon for mixing
Mix the glycerin and water in your pan. Add leaves.
If you don’t have enough solution to cover the leaves, make another batch. My 4-year old loved taking charge of this step and we ooohed and ahhhed over the leaves as they went into the glycerin bath.
Find another pan that’s a bit small than the first, and place it on top so that all the leaves stay submerged.
Put this aside for three-ish days, or until the leaves are super-supple. At this point, the leaves should have absorbed enough of the glycerin solution to retain their color and texture.
Remove the leaves from the glycerin solution and pat dry on a towel. Your leaves are now ready to display.
For those of you who might be banking on this recipe as a way to preserve your leaves for years to come, I think this is worth the experiment but it may not be foolproof. About two weeks later, our leaves have not turned brown, but they definitely haven’t retained their original color. I decorated a corner of our mantle with them, and they look pretty good, but not spectacular. I found this recipe that added surfectant (found in garden supply stores), and it sounds like that may help the glycerin soak into the leaves.
This minor detail has not affected my kids, however, who have been incorporating the leaves into their projects.
Have you ever made glycerin leaves?
Any tips or thoughts on what may have gone wrong? Or was I expecting too much?
Is this your first time here? Join the Tinkerlab network and be the first to know about simple art + science projects for kids, creativity tips, and simple ideas that will make your life more creative. Sign up for our newsletter here.