How to Decoupage Leaves

How to Decoupage Leaves

Give your décor a festive, crafty, autumnal-inspired look by decoupaging leaves.



By: Shelly Reese

Fall leaves make gorgeous decorations, especially when their vibrant hues last longer — thanks to a few coats of decoupage medium. All you need are a few simple crafting supplies to be able to use fall leaves for decorating lanterns, pumpkins and lampshades. Here’s how. 

Get Started: Dry the Leaves 
Look for freshly fallen, whole leaves that boast bright colors without rips, holes or spots. Gather and dry more leaves than you think you’ll need for the design — that way you’re covered in case the best specimens get damaged before being safely covered with decoupage medium. 

Materials
Freshly gathered leaves
Newspaper (use white copy paper if you don’t have a newspaper)
Scissors
Heavy books

Instructions

  1. Sort through your leaves. Discard leaves that are damaged or dirty
  2. Place the newspaper on a flat surface where it can remain undisturbed for at least two weeks. Open the newspaper. If desired, snip off stems before arranging the leaves in a single layer on one of the pages; leaves should not overlap
  3. Close the newspaper and place one or more heavy books on top of it. Let the leaves dry for two weeks or more. They will flatten and become easier to work with when being decoupaged onto a smooth surface

1. Leaf-Covered Lantern
Craft a lantern with a leafy surface that glows beautifully when lit from within. 

Materials 
Clean, dry Mason jar
Dried leaves in a variety of colors and shapes (see directions for drying leaves)
Decoupage medium, gloss finish (such as Mod Podge)
Foam brush
Battery-powered votive candle in holder
Yarn, raffia or ribbon (optional)
Scissors (optional)
Hot glue gun and glue sticks (optional)

Instructions

  1. Remove the lid from the jar. Using a foam brush, apply enough decoupage medium to the exterior of the glass jar to accommodate the first leaf. Press the leaf onto the wet decoupage medium. Hold the leaf in place until it adheres to the glass
  2. Decide where the second leaf should be attached. You may want it to overlap the first leaf or stay completely clear of the first leaf — it’s up to you. (The more space you leave between leaves, the more light will show through when the lantern is being used.) Repeat step 1
  3. Repeat these steps until you are happy with the design. Once the design is complete, use a foam brush to cover the entire jar with decoupage medium. Let it dry. Repeat two more times, letting the decoupage medium dry between coats. Once the jar is thoroughly dry, it’s ready to use
  4. Wait to insert the candle until just before you want to use the lantern. Flip the switch before carefully lowering the candle into the jar
  5. Display your leafy lantern on its own, or make several to display as a group
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Tip: If you like, further decorate your lantern by wrapping the mouth of the jar with yarn, raffia, jute or grosgrain ribbon. Attach the chosen fiber to the jar with hot glue. Let dry. 

2. Festive No-Carve Pumpkin
Decorate a pumpkin with a colorful design created from dried leaves and decoupage medium.

Materials
Clean, dry pumpkin
Dried leaves
Decoupage medium
Foam brush
Scissors

Instructions 

  1. Using the foam brush, cover a section of the pumpkin with decoupage medium. Press the leaf onto the medium, manipulating the edges as needed to create a smooth surface. Hold the leaf until it adheres to the pumpkin. Repeat with subsequent leaves, snipping the edges as before (Small leaves may not need to be snipped.)
  2. When your design is complete, let the pumpkin dry. Using a foam brush, cover the entire surface of the pumpkin with decoupage medium. You will probably have to do this in two stages: decoupage most of the pumpkin's surface and let it dry. Then flip the pumpkin over and decoupage the bottom surface; let it dry. Brush on two more coats of decoupage medium, letting the pumpkin dry between coats. Once completely dry, the pumpkin is ready to display

3. Leafy Lampshade 
Light up any room in seasonal style by decoupaging leaves to a lampshade.

Materials
Lampshade
Dried leaves
Decoupage medium
Foam brush


Instructions

  1. Using a foam brush, apply enough decoupage medium to the interior of the shade to accommodate the first leaf. Press the leaf onto the decoupage medium. Hold the leaf in place until it adheres to the shade. Brush more decoupage medium over the top of the leaf
  2. Repeat steps to add more leaves to the inside of the shade. Leave plenty of white space so that light will show through when the lamp is on. Let the shade dry completely before placing it back on to the lamp
  3. By day the leaves will not be noticeable since they are glued to the inside of the shade. After dark, they will be clearly seen and appreciated when the lamp is turned on and glowing




Shelly is a writer, wife, mom, runner and artist. When she's not in her office or logging miles, she's in her studio with her kids making a really big mess. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications including Parenting, Prevention and Runner's World.

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