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Homemade Mod Podge vs The Real Deal :: Which Works Better with Autumn Leaves?

by Jean Van't Hul
September 24, 2012

Homemade Mod Podge vs The Real Deal Face Off

When I was working on my fall crafts book, one of my editorial feedback team members suggested I include the recipe for homemade mod podge as an alternate to real mod podge in the leaf doodling activity.

I almost did. I’m all for homemade—especially when it works well.

But I hadn’t tested it myself and didn’t have the time then (this was the eleventh hour, as I remember, and I was scrambling with last minute edits and formatting) and so decided to leave it out.

I promised myself that I’d try out the two versions side by side as soon as possible, though. And that’s what I wanted to share with you here. The test and the results. Homemade mod podge vs the store bought mod podge. So here we go…

Homemade Mod Podge vs Real Mod Podge 01

First, of course, we did another round of leaf doodling and drawing. I picked up a fresh pack of metallic sharpies and Maia, Daphne, and I each drew on autumn leaves that we had pressed and dried.

Then I started the big face-off.

We’ve used store bought mod podge to preserve our leaves in the past. It helps restore the vibrant color to the leaves and makes them shiny and supple. Would homemade mod podge do the same?

Homemade Mod Podge vs Real Mod Podge 03

First, I mixed up a batch of the homemade mod podge.

Here’s the recipe:

1 part white school glue + 1 part water

This homemade version has been all over pinterest. I was sure I had pinned it myself, but couldn’t find the pin. I know I saw it and intended to try it.

Using a foam brush, I spread the homemade mod podge over one set of the leaves.

Homemade Mod Podge vs Real Mod Podge 04

And I brushed the real mod podge over another set.

Homemade Mod Podge vs The Real Deal Face Off 2

The glue mixture beaded and didn’t stay on the leaves well, as you can see on the left. The official mod podge coated the leaves thoroughly and stayed on.

Homemade Mod Podge vs Real Mod Podge 11

Once both sets of leaves were dry, I flipped them over and repeated the application of homemade and real mod podge on the backs. And let them dry again.

So, how did they compare? Let’s see…

Homemade Mod Podge vs The Real Deal Face Off 3

Homemade mod podge (shown on the left):

  • Matte leaves
  • Color unchanged
  • More supple than before

Real mod podge (shown on the right):

  • Shiny leaves
  • Vibrant color restored
  • Supple and flexible


The store bought mod podge definitely produced the results I was after with the leaves. I wanted to preserve the leaves and make them colorful, shiny, and not so brittle when handled. The glue/water mixture didn’t change the look of the leaves at all. What was surprising to me (since the mixture didn’t seam to stay on the leaves) was that it made the dried leaves more supple. I could bend them without breaking off pieces.

Is it worth using the glue/water just for the suppleness? It’s not worth it to me, but maybe it would be to someone.

There are other considerations to think of, of course, besides the look of the leaves, such as cost (homemade is definitely cheaper) and eco-friendly ingredients (I can’t find an ingredients list for the mod podge, but it’s smelly which makes me think less eco-friendly), but since the homemade mod podge didn’t perform in this case, I don’t think we need to get into all that.

Homemade Mod Podge vs The Real Deal with Autumn Leaves

So now we know. Homemade mod podge may work well for paper decoupage, but I’d stick with the store bought stuff for preserving autumn leaves for decor or craft purposes.

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