Thursday, November 26, 2015

Preserving & Framing Autumn Leaf Tutorial

I adore Autumn. This year, I created my own Autumn Leaf Tutorial that preserves the leaves as well as turns them into elegant works of art. This was easy, fun, relaxing, and cost me a total of five dollars. I already had supplies at home, total cost might be $5-20 depending on the frames you use & where you buy supplies. I went to the dollar store.

Below is a finished 11 x 14. 

  • - Small wide paint brush 
  • - Modge Podge [clear drying craft gloss lustre, $4 for 4oz, or $1 at the dollar store, 4oz. is more than enough.]
  • - Cardboard [or a disposable work-space to on.
  • - Dried Leaves
  • - Frames [I made 4. Any size. Style of frame matters. They must have a frame back similar to the photo below so the glass from another frame can fit as a clear backing instead of a colored backing.] 

You will need 2 frames to make one complete frame. Buy double the frames you plan to make. Discard the frame/backing from one, keep the backing hangers and glass depending upon how many frames you make.]
Small nails to hang frames. 

The instructions are outlined below with photos from start to finish:

Collect leaves early morning still wet, not wet is fine too. Leaves keep their brighter colors when still wet. Pick leaves from various trees for shape/color.

After collecting, press them flat when home. Paper towels and/or tissue folded in half works good. Place leaves between one fold making sure no leaves overlap, stick out or are bent on edges. Place them between pages of heavy books. Let them dry. 


Take cardboard, lie flat. Get modge podge and paint brush. Take each dried leaf separate and coat back and front of each leaf generously. You will have to dab off with brush extra coating so it does not leave marks when dry. All you want is a glossy finish that also preserves the leaf. Be careful, you can easily crack a nice leaf. Stems are fine to break or break off.

Use different techniques with the brush to make sure the leaf is fully coated front and back. 

After the leaf is coated, let it dry, about 20 minutes, away from other leaves and off the edge as below. 

When the leaves dry, they will look like below. Slightly glossy and preserved. Notice how the dry leaves you started with are different.

Important: When buying a frame, make sure the backing is like below. When you frame, take apart one frame, discard the cardboard backing, save the clip holders. 

Use superglue to glue one clip from discarded frame onto the frame you will use to hang. Let that dry. Remove glass from discarded frame, recycle the other frame or use it for another project. Take the glass from discarded frame and use that as the new backing for the frame that will have leaves in it.


When ready to add leaves to one frame, place glass face down in the frame and creatively place the leaves wherever you see fit. Make it diverse, coorful, interesting. When pleased, put the glass from discarded frame on top of the upturned leaves and clamp down the hooks to secure the leaves in place. This glass is now the backing of one frame so you are able to see through to the wall instead of seeing a cardboard or colored backing. 

Below are examples of up close finished frames, different sizes and designs. 

Below is how I chose to design one wall with 4 finished frames. 

This is another example.

This project is easy, fun, and inexpensive and looks beautiful. The glass backing works well against lighter colored walls and up close, you are able to see the veins in the leaves and the changing colors. 

Now you have not only an artistic display, but preserved Autumn leaves. Experiment. There are many ways to do this. 

Have fun and enjoy!

The artwork in the middle [Love Yourself First in Arabic and English calligraphy] was gifted to me by my sister, artist, writer in Kashmir, Amreen Naqash.


Anonymous said...

I am going to try your method. I collected oak leaves in the fall from a nearby park. All are brown and pressed, all different sizes and different kinds of oak trees. I
Hope it won’t be too drab being all brown …🤔

Susan Marie said...

It works so well! Mine are still perfectly preserved behind frames. They look so beautiful. Nooo, wait till you see! They shine right up and look so beautiful against a light wall. I collected more this year too and want to do a larger framed one myself. I am so happy you are doing this. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Question… I’m looking to do something special with pressed leaves my grandmother sent me October 1987. Do you think this will be possible ok with leaves so old? I do realize dry leaves are dry leaves however they are very special.

Susan Marie said...

The ones I made here are still beautiful and preserved between glass frames and still shiny. They look wonderful.