How to Make a Fall Beeswax Leaf Garland
Come learn how to create a natural fall garland using wax-dipped leaves! It’s a fun, easy and sustainable autumn craft project that the whole family can enjoy (with supervision during the hot wax part of course). Wax leaf garlands can be hung anywhere, though they look especially beautiful strung across a sunny window, fireplace mantle, stairwell banister or even a porch railing.
Making beeswax leaf garlands is a fantastic way to celebrate the changing seasons and bring a little piece of the great outdoors inside to enjoy. Especially here on the Central Coast of California where the seasons don’t change very dramatically, our colorful leaf garlands bring me so much joy. They really enhance the fall vibes! This also gave us the perfect excuse to get outside and visit our local park to forage for the most beautiful leaves.
- Leaves. The more bright and colorful, the better! Don’t be afraid to mix various shapes and sizes.
- Beeswax (or vegan wax alternative). The amount needed depends on your dipping pot and how many leaves you have. You’ll want at least ¼ to ½” of wax in the bottom of the pan after melting. About ½ cup to 1 cup of beeswax pastilles should be plenty. You can always melt more!
- A double boiler* See notes below.
- Parchment paper or wax paper
- Jute twine, string, or other similar material to hang the leaves from. A string of twinkle lights can create a beautiful wax leaf garland too!
- Optional: Petite clothespins or clips to connect the leaves to the garland. I love using them because it makes it SO easy to attach and adjust the leaves, plus the pins themselves are really cute! But if your string is fine enough, you can also tie it directly around the leaf stems.
Double Boiler Notes
It’s best to heat beeswax via a double boiler rather than in a single pan directly on the stove because beeswax is highly flammable. It can smoke and actually catch fire if it gets too hot, much like grease! To create your own double boiler, choose a smaller pot, pan, or glass bowl that can rest on top or or partially nestle inside the lower pot of boiling water (but not fit completely inside, you don’t want it resting on the bottom of the lower pot).
Since it can be a bit messy to clean up, some folks use an old or dedicated pan for beeswax. We don’t find that necessary though! For easy clean-up, simply re-heat the pot of beeswax, pour off any leftover wax to save for another project, wipe out the pot or pan with a paper towel, then wash well with soap and hot water (use the hot water from the double boiler!).
Tips for success
It’s really simple and straightforward to make a beeswax leaf garland. Cliff notes: dip leaves in wax and hang. Lol! But here are a few tips that will make things even easier and create the most beautiful, long-lasting beeswax leaf garland possible:
- Use fallen, flat leaves. For the best results, collect leaves that have naturally fallen off the tree already. They’ll usually contain less moisture than those plucked fresh from the tree and preserve better in wax. Collect fairly flat leaves rather than ones that are already beginning to curl, and avoid leaves that are crispy and dry.
- Press the collected leaves in a book for 24 to 48 hours before you make your beeswax leaf garland (but not much longer or they’ll start to lose color). Flattened leaves are far easier to dip in wax, will dry more flat, and the coating of wax will be more even. Try to keep the stems laying fairly straight and away from the leaf while pressing. Add weight on top of the book as needed.
- Keep the wax warm, but not piping hot. Super-hot wax can wilt or “cook” the leaves, so after melting, remove the hot wax from the heat and let it sit for a couple minutes to cool just slightly. But use it before it gets too cool! As the wax cools, it will start to re-solidify and dry more thick and chunky (less clear) on the leaves. If you’re dipping a lot of leaves, you may need to reheat the wax once or twice while you work.
- Dip the stems too! Dipping the leaf stems in wax helps to fully seal the leaves, better preserve their color, and make the wax leaf garland last longer.
Instructions to Make a Wax Leaf Garland
- Add beeswax to the top portion of a double boiler, and with water in the lower pot, heat it on the stovetop over medium-high heat until the beeswax melts completely. Remove the wax from the heat, but keep the water in the double boiler in case you need to reheat it.
- One at a time, dip the pressed leaves in the melted beeswax. Work quickly, but be sure the wax coats all parts of the leaf. Tip: Also dip a good portion of the stem in wax now too. It will be easier to go back and dip just the remaining tip of the stem later.
- Hold the leaf above the pot and give it a gentle wiggle to let excess wax drip off. Then lay out the wax-dipped leaf flat on a piece of parchment paper or wax paper. Sometimes little chunks of wax will collect where the leaf is touching the parchment paper, so it may be best to lay the leaves face-side-up to hide those imperfections on the back.
- Once all the leaves have been dipped and are dry, go back and dip the remaining exposed portion of stem in wax as well. Avoid re-dipping the leaf though, or the extra wax layer will show.
- After all the waxed leaves are dry (they dry fast!), clip or tie them to twine to create a garland. It’s usually easiest to hang the twine where you want it first and then attach the leaves. Cluster the leaves close together for an extra lush leaf garland, or hang them more sparsely for a simple, dainty look.
Beeswax leaf garlands look even more amazing when backlit, such as strung in a sunny window or pinned in front of twinkle lights. Light really makes the colors pop! If you don’t want to use tacks or nails, try these small suction window hooks.
How long do waxed leaves last?
Wax-dipped leaves should last (retain color) for several weeks, perhaps up to a couple of months. That said, we like to do this project close to Halloween and then enjoy the colorful wax leaf garland through Thanksgiving. If I make more than I hang, I save the extra waxed leaves in a dark place as back-up so I can swap out any that fade faster than the others. Once we’re done with them, the waxed leaves are a welcome addition to our compost pile. (We don’t put them in our worm bin however.)
Other uses for beeswax leaves
Beyond garlands, there are many beautiful and creative ways to display waxed leaves for fall decor! Cluster the leaves in a bowl or spread them out on the table to create a centerpiece. Pinecones, acorns, and gourds make great waxed leaf companions! Tuck the waxed leaves into a fall wreath, or fill a clear vase with them. You could even glue a magnet on the backside to adorn the refrigerator with fall flair.
And that’s how to make a beeswax leaf garland.
Well friends, I sure hope you have just as much fun creating your own fall wax leaf garlands as I do. Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. Also tag me on Instagram so I can see your beautiful leaf garlands too! If you found this tutorial to be inspiring and useful, please consider leaving a star review below. Also, spread the fall love by pinning or sharing this post. Happy leaf foraging and crafting!
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DIY Beeswax Fall Leaf Garland
- Leaves – choose fallen, flat, colorful leaves that are not yet curling or getting crispy
- Beeswax or vegan alternative, enough to create a shallow pool of wax (about 1/4 to 1/2-inch deep) in the pot once melted
- Jute twine, string or twinkle lights
- Double boiler
- Small clothespins
- Parchment paper or waxed paper
- Press your collected leaves in a book for 24 to 48 hours before you make your beeswax leaf garland.
- Gently heat beeswax on the stovetop in a double-boiler.
- Once the wax has completely melted, quickly dip each leaf in the wax (one by one) and ensure all parts of the leaf have been coated. Dip some of the stem too.
- Hold the leaf over the pot of wax and lightly wiggle it, allowing excess wax to drip off
- Lay waxed leaves out on parchment paper or waxed paper to dry. They dry fast; within 10 minutes!
- Once dry, go back and dip the uncoated tips of the stems in wax (avoid getting more wax on the leaf). Allow to dry again.
- Use small clothespins to attach the waxes leaves to a piece of twine, string or twinkle lights to create a garland. (It's easiest to hang the string where you want it first, then attach the leaves)
- The leaves should retain their color for several weeks, up to a couple months.
- Enjoy your beautiful homemade beeswax leaf garland!
- For easy clean-up, re-heat the pot of beeswax, pour off any leftover wax to save for another project, wipe out the pot or pan with a paper towel, then wash well with soap and hot water.
What a lovely idea, Deanna. This is the only reason I wish we still had our old sweet gum tree — it had such beautiful leaves! But I’m sure I can look out for some leaves for Fall 2023. Will do this with the grandsons. Thank you for all your helpful posts. Love checking in with you at the homestead!
Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)
Thank you so much for the support Amy and we think it will be a fun project for you and the grandkids next fall!