Keep that peak leaf looking fresh.

By Katie Holdefehr
Updated November 03, 2017
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We wait all year for that one glorious week of peak leaf peeping, and then, just like that, the colors fade and the trees are bare. But to keep the colors vibrant long past peak leaf week, all you have to do is follow one of these easy leaf preserving methods. When dipped in a glycerin mixture, dried in a dictionary, or embedded in a layer of resin, fall’s finest keep their colors, so you can enjoy them all year long.

Method 1: Press the Leaves

One of the most traditional ways to preserve fall leaves (and also the easiest!), pressing leaves is foolproof if you have a little patience. You can invest in a small flower press for the task (we used this adorable $17 one). Layer the leaves between sheets of absorbent paper and the cardboard that comes with the press. Replace the top of the press and tighten the screws, then let dry for about two weeks.

Don’t want to invest in a press? Don’t worry—a stack of heavy books will work. Layer the leaves without overlapping them between two tissues or other absorbent paper in between the pages of a heavy book. Stack more books on top and let dry for two to three weeks.

Method 2: Glycerin Soak

Pour two parts glycerin and one part water into a plastic bin. Add fresh fall leaves in a single layer, making sure that they are fully submerged in the solution. Let them soak for three to five days, then take them out and dry them off. By replacing the natural moisture in the leaves with glycerin, the leaves last longer. The color will stay, although it may change slightly, and the leaves should remain pliable, instead of getting dry and brittle.

Method 3: Embed in Resin

Arrange the leaves on an acrylic tray (we used this one from CB2). In a disposable container or a glass mixing bowl dedicated to art projects, mix together parts A and B of a two-part resin kit (such as this one from Michaels). Stir for two minutes (or as long as directed by the manufacturer), then pour into a second container. Carefully pour the mixture over the leaves to fill the entire tray. Cover the tray to protect it from dust and debris, and let it set for 72 hours.

Bonus Method: The Gold-Leaf Treatment

If you missed peak leaf and all you’re left with are dry and crispy leaves, it’s not too late to make them shine. Working outside (or in a well-ventilated area), coat them with gold spray paint, let dry, then flip them over to paint the other side. The gilded effect makes a pile of old leaves look like a million bucks.

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