Take the ephemeral beauty of autumn leaves and make it last forever when you preserve leaves with the one simple, natural ingredient that is pure beeswax.
Beeswax is perfectly translucent on the autumn leaves, making them shine but allows the vibrant colors to show brilliantly. The beeswax also causes the leaves (and the whole house!) to smell sweet, and the process itself is so simple that my children can do the whole thing independently, although why would I want them to?
Preserving leaves with beeswax is fun!
When you collect your autumn leaves for this craft, remember that the leaves that work best are the ones that have already fallen off of their branches. They don’t need to be brittle and dry, but if you pluck leaves that are still full of life, then they’re still full of moisture, and they will eventually begin to brown underneath the wax.
If you do want to use green leaves, or you’re worried about browning at all, simply press your leaves for a couple of days first, either in a leaf or flower press or between the pages of a thick book. Really, though, it isn’t necessary if you just pick your leaves up off of the ground.
Other than leaves, the only other materials you need are waxed paper or parchment paper, a block of local beeswax (check your farmer’s market or local natural grocery store), and something to heat the beeswax with. Although some crafters use a double boiler, I stand proudly by my thrift store crockpot. Used only for crafting, my crockpot was cheap (yay!), and heats wax at a controlled temperature, so that I can trust my children to use it. If you don’t have space for another entire crockpot, consider buying a second bowl, dedicated only to crafting, for your regular crockpot.
Melt a block of beeswax in your crockpot–you’ll want to end up with at least an inch of melted beeswax in your crockpot, so if you don’t have a lot of beeswax this is a great time to go thrifting for those little crockpots that people bought in the 80s for warming potpourri–and dip each leaf in the melted beeswax, making sure to submerge the entire leaf and part of the stem.
Just don’t submerge your fingers!
Lift each leaf up just as soon as it’s been coated (it will only take a second), and let it drip excess beeswax back into the pot.
Lay each leaf on waxed paper or parchment paper for just a few minutes to finish drying, and then your leaves are ready!
While the beeswax is still liquid, you can pour it from the crockpot into a container for storage, then quickly wipe down the bowl of the crockpot. If you plan another beeswax craft in the next few weeks, however, you can also just turn off the crockpot and let the beeswax solidify there, ready to melt again to preserve more leaves after your next nature walk, or to use as a base for your next batch of homemade modeling beeswax.
Our beeswax leaves are decorating our nature table right now, but we have a special project planned for them that I’ll write about next week.