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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 of 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 (like dipping leaves in melted beeswax), 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 which is shiny. (Check out this tutorial that takes a closer look at the different between Gloss and Matte Mod Podge for preserving fall leaves.)
- Foam Brush
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
Check out this tutorial about the difference between Gloss and Matte Mod Podge for preserving fall leaves.
Once you’ve chosen what type of Mod Podge you’re using, paint on a layer of Mod Podge with a foam brush.
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 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!
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 the leaves were originally preserved, and the leaves are still colorful after all this time!
The colors have become a bit 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.