Fall Leaf Lanterns {Tutorial}

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Fall Leaf Lanterns

This weekend’s forecast finally calls for some Fall-like weather, but since it has been so warm around here lately we’re severely lacking some brilliant Fall leaves and anything else that might remind us that it’s already Autumn. Despite the current absence of Fall, when I saw these gorgeous leaf lanterns over at Twig and Toadstool last week I knew that I had to find a way to make some for myself.

I attempted to collect some leaves from my parents’ house since they have dozens more trees than we do. Unfortunately just-barely-yellowing leaves were the best that I could come up with, and they definitely weren’t inspiring me in the way that I had hoped. Fortunately for me, my dad seems to have inherited Grandmom’s affinity for gathering and pressing leaves and flowers in between pages of old books…and then forgetting about them until something triggers their memory to remind them that they are still hidden there. Up on the top bookshelf, carefully tucked between the pages of “The New Book of Knowledge,” we found stem upon stem of brilliantly colored Japanese Maple leaves in every hue of the season. Perfect!
fallen leaves for lantern

I found an old glass piece in my cupboard, grabbed my Mod Podge and started getting creative…
mod podge and leaves on lanternWhen Sutton saw my lantern drying on the counter he wanted to make one too, so he chose an empty glass pasta sauce jar to upcycle into his own lantern. I set up all of the supplies for him, and then he took over and did the project entirely on his own. I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with his focus these days, and the end result was lovely!
kids adding mod podge to diy leaf lantern
candle lit inside of pretty fall lantern
Our lanterns cast an inviting and soothing warm glow, and they definitely fill the missing leaf void that we were experiencing! They brought the final element of Autumn to our collection of acorns, pumpkins and indian corn that grace our Fall nature table, and I’m so glad that my dad had the bits and pieces that we needed to make it happen (thanks Dad! ♥)
child smiling next to cute fall decor
best fall decor ideas : homemade leaf lanterns



    1. Yes, that’s exactly right – Mod Podge on the jar, add the leaves, allow to dry, then put another layer of Mod Podge on top of the leaves. Easy peasy! I used gloss Mod Podge for this project (and I much prefer it to the homemade type of Mod Podge made with glue, but the homemade kind does work in a pinch!).

  2. I was looking for a fall centerpiece for my wedding. I think this will look beautiful with the birch we are using. Thank you for the idea!

    1. Hi Crystal! You can use any kind of paintbrush! A foam brush just helps it go on a little bit quicker and smoother, but any kind will work just fine! 🙂

  3. These are beautiful! I just wanted let you know that I have a kids activities submission site (Simply Creative Kids) and I am linking to this post if you don’t mind. You are welcome to submit any projects if you’d like.

    1. Yes, Debbie, sorry for the delayed response! We painted a coat of Mod Podge on the outside of the jar first, then adhered the leaves and allowed it to dry. We then painted on another coat of Mod Podge over the leaves to seal them. Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂

  4. It seems so easy, but I have one question. Are you applying the leaves to the inside or outside of the glass? I didn’t see any definitive directions. And it just dawned on me that if you are using dried leaves for this project, you might could use dried flowers for spring/summer. Thanks for these great ideas to keep kids of all ages occupied.

    1. I can’t say for sure, Gretchen, about whether or not you can use the glycerin preserved leaves since I’ve never attempted it myself. The leaves do not have to be dried first; however, I would recommend pressing them in a heavy book for a day or two first because flat leaves adhere to the glass MUCH better than naturally curved leaves. 🙂

      1. Yes, you put a layer of Mod Podge on to the jar and then apply the leaves. Allow to dry and then top with another coat of Mod Podge 🙂

    1. Hi Tiffany! I tried this with satin leaves last fall, but the ones that I had were too thick and didn’t lay nicely against the glass. I am sure that it could be done, but the satin leaves would have to be very thin! 🙂

  5. I wanted to know after you put the mod podge on then the leaves do you do another coat of mod podge. and also do the leaves keep the color

    1. Hi Christine, I did do a finish top coat of Mod Podge after the first coat (to apply the leaves) had dried. We have had our lanterns for three years now, and the color of the leaves is just very slightly starting to fade after all this time. I expect that they will hold up for many more years to come!

      1. I have never used Mod Podge, so please forgive me if my question is that of a simpleton, 1. Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge with a foam brush to a glass container. 2. Apply pressed leaves to the container in whatever pattern you choose and let dry completely. 3. Apply a top coat of Mod Podge with a foam brush and let dry completely. That’s it? Do you wipe any excess Mod Podge off the container, such as an area where you decide not to put a leaf? Did I leave out anything?

      2. Yep, that’s it, Karen! I don’t wipe any of the excess Mod Podge off because it dries clear. It will lightly show the paintbrush marks though, so bear that in mind and try to keep the brush strokes neat! 🙂

      3. Thank you Heidi & Karen. I have never used Modge Podge either and was wondering the same things! I will try this with my Sunday School class, using the battery operated candles!! Thank you for sharing your creativity!!

  6. I just enjoyed looking at tha Changing Leaves Lamps <3 <3 Thanks 4 Shareing these nd by all means they r so exciting <3 <3

  7. Love this! Would definitely like to make some of these up for Fall and using battery operated votives is a great idea!

  8. Be careful about what vase you choose. Many are not intended to be used for candles and can shatter easily when hot!

    1. For safety in all areas, you can use the battery operated votive candles that are so popular now. Cheap, too!!! 😉

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