Preserve Real Leaves with Glycerin for Craft Project Use

Are you an avid flower gardener that enjoys creating decorative items and gifts with your garden’s bounty? If so, you may want to consider creating a batch of glycerin leaves. In my experience, glycerin leaves make a nice addition to floral crafts and tend to last forever. They are also easy, albeit time consuming to make. With that said, here’s how to create your own glycerin leaves:

Leaf Preservation Supplies Needed

In order to complete this task, you will need a gallon jug of glycerin, a glass loaf pan (1/2 quart size or larger), old newsprint, a hammer and an empty metal coffee can. Of course you will also need fresh leaves. You may opt to use individual leaves as well as branches of leaves. As far as the glycerin goes, you can typically purchase it through health food stores and pharmacies. On average, a gallon jug of glycerin will set your finances back by about $35. Of course if you only plan on creating a handful of glycerin leaves, you may opt to purchase a smaller bottle. I should also mention that access to boiling hot water, a pair of metal tongs, a measuring cup, pot holders and a roll of plastic wrap are also necessary in order to get the job done.

Select a Work Space

Once you have all of your glycerin leaf making supplies on hand, you’ll want to select and set up your work space. I’d suggest that you select a warm, dry area of your home that is equipped with a counter top and sufficient space to allow the leaves to dry undisturbed for one to three weeks. To set up your work area, lay down newsprint in one section of the room. The newsprint is where the glycerin soaked leaves will remain until they dry. You’ll also want to place the rest of your craft supplies nearby.

Prepare the Glycerin Solution

Proceed by creating a glycerin and water mixture. I would recommend that you use 1 cup of glycerin for every two cups of boiling water. Should you need to mix up more or less solution than that, just make sure that you use the same 1:2 ratio. If you plan on working with individual leaves, pour some of the solution into the glass loaf pan. If you plan on working with branches of leaves, pour some of the solution into a metal coffee can.

Complete the Preservation Process

If you are working with individual leaves, submerge them into the glycerin and water solution. Then cover the top of the glass loaf pan with plastic wrap and set it aside. The leaves will need to remain submerged in the solution until they go through a complete color change. The entire color change process could take up to a full month or more. Depending on the leaves themselves, the new colors will vary. Colors that you are apt to see form as the leaves soak in the solution are burgundy and chocolate brown.

If you are working with branches of leaves, you will need to hit the severed end of the branch with a hammer. I have found that doing so helps the branch to soak up the glycerin and water solution. Once that’s done, submerge the smashed end of the branch inside the coffee can and allow the solution to start doing its job. Just like the individual leaves, the leave clusters will eventually start to change color.

When the color change is complete, you can remove the branches and leaves from the solution. Place the glycerin soaked leaves and branches onto the newsprint and allow them to dry for two to three weeks. Once the drying time has elapsed, the leaves should have a flexible, oily and leather like feel to them. At this point, you can either use the leaves immediately or store them in between layers of tissue paper for future use.

Source: Personal Experience

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