Preserve the Memories: Leaf Art

Give fall leaves a new life with creative tips and preservation techniques.

When the kids come inside from a day out in the crisp autumn air, they usually bring with them a few treasures – rocks, mud and stuffy noses.

There’s probably not much you can do with those, but the leaves they bring back – of all colours and shapes – can be transformed into a great memory keeper. Here’s how.

The Leaves

While you can leave the leaves as they are, you can also decorate them. So pull out the paint and paintbrushes, and get creative.

One option is to dip the leaves in paint. Doing it halfway will both show the colours of the leaves, as well as provide the contrasting colour of the paint.

Another option is to paint directly on the leaves. You can create your own colourful landscape on the season’s symbol of change just by painting away!

Leaf Outlines

One easy way to capture the beauty of the season – without worrying about preservation – is through painting.

The chosen leaf or leaves
Plain cardstock or construction paper
Spray paint (colour of your choosing)
Watercolour paints
Masking tape
Small bowl of water to rinse your brushes as needed


  1. Using the watercolour paints, brush on colour in a design that you find appealing. Abstract is perfectly fine here
  2. Lay the leaf or leaves down where you’ll want to capture the outline.
  3. Spray paint the entire paper, covering the tops of the leaves, in a contrasting colour to the paints – black or gold, something bold works well
  4. Carefully lift the leaves from the paper to reveal the shape of the leaves in the watercolour design you painted

Tip: Secure the leaves on the paper with masking tape while you spray paint. This will prevent the outline from shifting.

Go to Glycerin
If you want to go the leaf preservation route, glycerin is the way to go – and you’ll find it at most supermarkets or craft stores.


  • Liquid glycerin
  • Water
  • Flat pan or glass baking dish
  • Weighted items (like a heavy plate that will fit inside the pan or dish)


  1. Mix one part glycerin and two parts water inside your pan or baking dish. You’ll need enough to submerge the leaves
  2. Place the leaves in the solution. Weigh them down with the heavy plate to ensure the leaves are completely submerged. (You may need to put a rock or canned good on the heavy plate to keep it down)
  3. Put the pan in a dry location, away from children and pets, for three to five days
  4. Once it’s been a few days, remove your finished leaves from the solution and dry gently with a paper towel

Display Possibilities
Put your final pieces in a memory box, picture frame or in a scrapbook to enjoy the memory throughout the season and beyond. Mount your leafy wonder on a wall for a mix of natural-meets-modern.


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