Wednesday, 14 November 2012

How To Preserve Leaves Using Glycerine

Here's a quick 'How To' for the glycerine leaf preservation experiment.

I bought some glycerine from the supermarket, quite cheaply. It's with the baking things.

Glycerine wonderfully preserve the gorgeous colours and suppleness of autumn leaves, preventing them from going brown and crispy, so you can keep them for ages. I think we might make some pretty pictures with ours.

Anyway, here's what you do:

  • Choose the nicest autumn leaves you can find.
  • Spread them out in a shallow dish or tray.
  • Mix enough glycerine solution to cover the leaves. You need a ratio of 1 part glycerine to 2 parts water.
  • Weigh the leaves down so that they stay submerged. We used marbles for this.
  • Cover the tray with a lid or clingfilm to reduce the amount of evaporation from the liquid.
  • Leave for a few days.

Some leaves respond well to this treatment, while others don't. If the colour seems to be seeping out of your leaves, or if they begin to disintegrate, remove them from the tray.

Once a few days have passed (I read "2 to 6 days" so that's not very specific!) take the leaves out of the solution and let them dry. They will be pliable and retain their colour.

PS I took my leaves out of the glycerine after 3 days and they are pliable and quite a good colour. They have changed colour since I put them in the solution, so I think, next time, I'll use some fresher leaves that haven't started to change colour much, and let the colour develop over the course of a few days in the glycerine.

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