I remember the first time I saw beeswax-dipped autumn leaves, totally struck by the well known glory of those autumn colours so beautifully preserved. Perfection! Beeswax offers such a subtle protection for delicate, dying leaves, which would normally crumble and fully brown within a day or two. Instead, they can be carefully encased in a thin layer of beeswax, preserved within for up to several weeks. Their beauty and vivid colour can then be admired for much longer than we would normally be allowed. Read on to join us in our little forest adventure gathering leaves and taking them home to show you how to preserve them in beeswax and hang as a beautiful autumn garland!
This was my first year trying this little autumnal craft with the kids, and I’ve been so excited to get started. The process itself is very simple, calming, and contemplative even. Very fitting for this time of the year as we reflect on the closing of a full season of warmth, growth, and outward expansion during the glorious days of summertime. Now we pull back towards home though, drawing close, harvesting, and preserving. Appreciating the distinct beauty in the dying back on all sides during this season of Autumn.
We headed out one afternoon, during the last hour of daylight, which is still really quite early to me. It’s hard adjusting to the time change, let alone the quickly dwindling daylight hours. The sun begins setting around 3:30-4pm here in Hungary at this time of the year. I myself have lived through so many rotations around the sun, yet at each autumnal shift towards shorter daylight hours I’m still always left reeling and feeling off balance, simply craving the light.
So being outdoors during this season is of even greater value than before, and we often orient our whole day and all of its tasks and joys around our time in God’s creation. The kids absolutely love our nature walks and slow ambling through the woods. Despite the cold and shorter daylight hours, we still head out several times a week, scampering about and exploring. We gathered armfuls of leaves this time though and carried them home for our project together.
I think why I love this project so much is that it gathers up some of that fading light from the outdoors, carries it inside, and puts it on display in the home.
Golden, fiery autumn leaves in all their glory.
Let’s get started!
First you’ll need a few things…
- fresh autumn leaves
- twine or string
- saucepan or crockpot
- wax paper or parchment paper
- paper towels or rags for clean up
- Using either grated beeswax, beeswax pastilles, or strips, place into a gently warming crockpot or saucepan, on very low heat. Slowly melt the bees wax, only applying enough heat to melt the wax. Do not let it simmer or boil. Melt just enough wax to submerge a leaf completely beneath the surface.
- Once fully melted, take your fresh autumn leaves and hold by the stem, as far as possible away from the leaf itself to avoid burnt fingers. Place the leaf under the surface of the melted wax, along with about a centimeter or two of the stem as well if possible. Make sure the leaf is entirely submerged. You can use a fork or other utensil to help shift it around a bit if needed.
- The leaf really only needs to be under the wax for the briefest of moments, just enough to ensure it’s be coated completely. For the leaves colour and preservation I think it’s better to avoid any long exposure to heat.
- Lift the leaf out, let it drip for a moment for any excess wax to fall, and then place onto wax paper or parchment paper to dry, face up. The side facing down won’t be as pretty once finished drying. Alternatively, if you have the right set up, you can actually hang your leaves to dry by clipping them to a suspended string and placing paper underneath to catch any drips of wax as they cool off. This would result in equally gorgeous, double-sided wax-dipped leaves!
- Continue dipping leaves to your hearts content, adding more wax to melt if needed. I like to use just what’s needed and no more, since beeswax is so quite valuable.
- Once finished dipping leaves, let the pan cool for a moment, but before the wax really starts to harden again, I recommend taking an old rag to wipe out the pan or taking a paper towel and composting that. If you have a good bit of wax leftover though, just pour it into a container for use later on with some other project. Cleaning up the utensils and saucepan or crockpot before the wax has fully hardened though makes for easier clean up, rather than scrubbing through layers and layers of dried wax. Trust me!
- Once the leaves have fully dried, carefully peel them back from the wax paper or parchment paper and lay them out to decide on the arrangement you’d like for your garland. Be creative!
- Once decided on your pattern, take the twine and tie a simple knot around each stem, one at a time, leaving however much space you like between each one. I recommend at least a couple of inches so they can spread out from each other a bit when they hang, but some people like them really layered on top of each other too. So do whatever suits you!
- All finished, now just hang your lovely autumn garland in your home wherever you need a bit of brightening.
Easy enough, right? :) Hope you enjoy trying out this fun autumn project!
The leaves should last for several weeks! Here’s a photo of mine at a week in, still looking as fresh as the day we gathered it in the forest…
The kids really enjoyed this project of ours! Collecting the leaves was likely the most appreciated by them in it all. They eagerly observed the rest of the project though too, Cassian in his highchair watching over us, and Margot helping prepare our beeswax together. See her attempts at tying her own finished leaf above. :) Her three year old self tried her very best though, and for that I’m proud! Tying string is hard work, and what child can resist the satisfactory sensation of slowly tearing things into pieces?
We’re already looking forward to doing this project again next year too!