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The BEST part of fall (in my opinion, anyway) isn’t the pumpkins, boots, scarves, or pumpkin spice lattes… It’s the colorful leaves that make the trees look like they’re on fire.
In Minnesota, the spectacular fall leaf color is enough to make me stop and stare, all while knowing how precious and fleeting it is. The leaves sure are gorgeous, but in a blink on an eye, they’re on the ground, and snowflakes are swirling in the air instead.
In an effort to hang on to the beauty of fall, I decided to preserve fall leaves with Mod Podge.
There are many methods of preserving leaves, but in my opinion, Mod Podge is the easiest and fastest way.
Here’s how to use Mod Podge to preserve fall leaves to use in home decor and fall craft projects.
How to Make DIY Mod Podge Leaves
Step 1. Gather Supplies
- Mod Podge (I used both Gloss and Matte; two leaves for each type. The Matte looks more like a Satin or Semi-Gloss finish. For these leaves, I prefer the Gloss finish.)
- Brush (I like foam brushes for Mod Podge)
Step 2. Prepare leaves for Mod Podge
I collected my leaves off of the ground, so they were wet and dirty when I brought them inside.
I rinsed off the dirt and bugs, laid them out on a paper towel, put another paper towel on top, and then put a heavy object on top to help press the leaves flat.
I left them like this for a while to fully dry out and flatten before I started the Mod Podge step.
Step 3. Paint on a layer of Mod Podge
Using the paint brush (I love foam brushes for Mod Podge, but any brush will work), brush on a layer of Mod Podge.
Use enough to fully coat the leaf. Let dry.
PRO TIP: Through trial and error, I learned that my preference is to Mod Podge the BACK of the leaf (or whatever object I’m working on) FIRST. That way, the back is finished, and I can concentrate on the front side from then on, without risking messing the front up by flipping it back and forth.
In the photos below, I didn’t do it this way, but have since discovered this is the easiest method for me to use Mod Podge. Do the BACK SIDE FIRST, and then concentrate on the front side.
Step 4. Flip leaves over and brush a Mod Podge coat on the other side.
Once the Mod Podge layer is dry, flip the leaves over.
Brush a layer of Mod Podge on the other side of the leaves.
Step 5. Add a second coat of Mod Podge to the front of the leaves.
I added a second coat of Mod Podge to the front of the leaves in an effort to protect them further.
A single layer is probably fine, but I figured a second coat was even better!
Step 6. Hang, Display, Enjoy!
Once the Mod Podge leaves are fully dry, you can use them!
You can use them in projects like a leaf wall hanging, a diy leaf garland, or leaf monster crafts for kids.
Or you can display them in mason jars, scattered on a mantle or tabletop, or even just use washi tape and tape them to the wall.
Simple, beautiful fall decor for your home that hardly costs a penny!
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P.S. It’s been several years since I wrote this post and the leaves are still colorful and preserved!
The colors have become more muted; the vibrant red leaves are darker and more subdued, but the leaves remain preserved, flat, and colorful.
Compared to bare, un-Mod Podge’d leaves which dry out in mere days, these preserved leaves are a great way to decorate for fall, and make fall leaf crafts that will last more than just a few days.
What an awesome idea. Got to try it
Thanks Sasha! I’m so glad you like the idea; if you do try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!
Can you paint on them after you lodge it
Hi Cathy! I haven’t tried to paint them, but I think you probably could! I would think the paint would stick to the Mod Podge just fine. Let me know how it goes if you try it out!
This is so neat because the other day I brought in three leaves and decided to try mod podge on them to preserve them !They were so beautiful!!! And then here I see your article on how you did it too!
They are beautiful, aren’t they!!!! Thanks for your additional info on how to do this project!
Thank you, Sharon! I am so glad you tried it out!
I did this to smaller bright leaves and put them in my Thanksgiving cards and mailed to my relatives in Florida.
Hi Cheryl! Oh my gosh, what a fantastic idea!! That’s such a sweet way to share the fall spirit with people who don’t get the chance to enjoy fall. I bet they loved them!!
Can you also preserve the leaves using epoxy resin.
Hi Macy! I haven’t worked with epoxy resin before, so I can’t say whether it would work or not. But I am sure there are people who have tried it. If it seals the leaf, it probably would have the same effect as Mod Podge, so it’s worth a try! If you try it, report back and let me know how it turned out!
Hi, this is a great article. Thanks for this. I tried mod podge on leaves and I ran into 1 issue. I wanted different variety of leaves so as and when I get it, I bring it home, mod podge and store it. But now Im noticing that some leaves got spoiled, changed colors and some are remaining the same way. Would you know the reason? Is there a way we need to store these leaves post mod podge? I need it for a big project and very upset that I lost more than half batch of leaves like this 🙁
Hi Vidhya! Yeah, I did notice that happening to some of my leaves too. I don’t know for sure why – I would guess maybe it has to do with something in the leaves, maybe moisture or a little bug spot or something? Could even be something we can’t see. Unfortunately, I don’t know there’s a way around it. I would probably just make more than you think you’ll need, so that you will have enough for your project even with the ones that will inevitably not work out. I hope that helps!