Homemade Mod Podge vs The Real Deal on Autumn Leaves

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

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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

Conclusion: 

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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37 Comments

  • Reply
    Lori N
    September 24, 2012 at 9:34 am

    I have read, in other reviews of homemade Mod Podge, that when used on paper it might look fine in the beginning, but it doesn’t age well.

    • Reply
      DIane GooLsby
      September 12, 2019 at 9:45 pm

      Did you try it on paper projects?

  • Reply
    Letters Numbers and Books oh my
    September 24, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I’ve used homemade on leaves before but I used a lot less water for my homemade mod podge so that might make a difference.
    I use just enough to make it spreadable with a brush but it is still thick like mod podge. So more like 1 part glue to 1/2 part water.
    Our leaves just started turning so we have to try the sharpie idea thanks!

  • Reply
    Carrie
    September 24, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I’ve actually seen a VERY different recipe for homemade mod podge and wonder if that one would work any better?

    • Reply
      Alan Wade
      May 24, 2020 at 1:03 am

      I was gonn say I’ve seen different recipes for Mod Podge than this one with much better results…but haven’t tried them yet. I wonder as well…I was glad to see this page though with this comparison…nice job.

  • Reply
    katie
    September 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks for the comparison ( and staying true to yourself and not including the recipe since you didnt test it out prior) !

  • Reply
    Johnny Reed
    September 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    How do you string up the leaves in a garland? Thanks!

  • Reply
    Brenda Johnson
    September 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    I stiffen my crocheted snowflakes with just white glue and I don’t add any water. I would try it with no water and see what you come up with.

  • Reply
    Sandie
    September 24, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    One thing to consider is that real Mod Podge is waterproof and the home-made is not. May or may not matter…depends on the project. As an art teacher I have used both.

  • Reply
    Becky
    September 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Mod Podge or homemade aside, this looks like such a fun project; we’ll be trying this out for sure!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    September 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Hmm. Interesting… Thanks!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    September 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    I should try again with less water! Also, MaryAnn Kohl e-mailed me to say that regular elmer’s glue and elmer’s school glue work differently and that she gets wonky results with the school glue sometimes. That’s what I used — wonder if it would work better with the plain old elmer’s glue? I need to do another test!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    September 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    I’d love to see the recipe if you have it or have a link!!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    September 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Sure! YOu’re welcome, Katie!

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    September 24, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Oh, I used a hot glue gun to attach the leaf stems to a ribbon. You can see more about that here:
    https://artfulparent.com/2010/11/a-thanksgiving-leaf-garland.html

  • Reply
    Letters Numbers and Books oh my
    September 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I checked and I use regular elmers.

  • Reply
    Sandy
    September 25, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    Thanks for trying this…I wondered how it would work and thanks to you, I now know!

  • Reply
    Grace
    September 28, 2012 at 1:10 am

    what about this type of glue:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7wWkgrz8OU&list=FLzsbPJOgiHuhPaSCnGZgoAw&index=2&feature=plcp
    can I use that as a homemade glue mix?
    (i’ve seen in the us where elmers glue is 25c a bottle, but where I live, the same bottle is $4-5… so really expensive, and i can’t find mod podge anywhere!)

  • Reply
    Amanda
    October 4, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    I heard the same thing, apparently it yellows.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    October 5, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    We are doing this tomorrow.

  • Reply
    Maiz
    October 7, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    I’d love to see this, too! I saw a recipe a couple of years ago that had glue, water and a water soluble varnish in it. Now I can’t find it online.

    • Reply
      Carmen
      November 16, 2018 at 4:22 pm

      I saw that one too
      1 cup regular Elmer’s glue
      1/3 cup Water
      2 tbsp. Water-based Varnish
      (You can also add super fine glitter to it too)

  • Reply
    creekrose
    October 21, 2012 at 11:34 am

    do you dry the leaves first or mod podge them as is?

  • Reply
    Amy Anderson
    October 24, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Great review! Some people think Mod Podge is Elmer’s Glue and water . . . it’s absolutely not. Also Mod Podge is waterbased and acrylic, so it’s safe. Just as safe as Elmer’s. ;D

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    January 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Just discovering this article now and so glad I read it. I, too, have seen the Pinterest pins and felt guilty for not making my own when Mod Podge is so expensive but now I can feel justified buying Mod Podge. ;)

  • Reply
    pam
    February 21, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I love that you shared your test data and results here. A very helpful post for anyone tempted to try out the homemade version on their leaves. Definitely adding the link to my own tutorials. Thank you!!!

  • Reply
    Susan
    April 10, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Wonder what would happen with the glue if you used glaze instead of water? Think I am going to try it and see what happen.

  • Reply
    sharon
    April 17, 2013 at 1:38 am

    Hi Susan, please let us (viewers) know if this works thank you :)

  • Reply
    Jim
    May 15, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Apparently there is varnish in the original formula.
    “Mod Podge is a step above craft glue in terms of the sealing properties. Mod Podge is glue, but it’s also a sealer – and there are varnishes, etc. in the formula that don’t exist in craft glues.”
    http://modpodgerocksblog.com/2011/11/why-you-shouldnt-make-your-own-mod.html

  • Reply
    Roxann Winter
    June 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    Jim, do u know if outdoor mod podge is really different than regular? Absolutely necessary for craft which will stay/be used for outside purpose? Thanks! RW

  • Reply
    Christina Nelson
    October 13, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    I use regular Elmer’s, not school glue which is washable so is a lot more water soluble, and use about a 2/3 to 3/4 glue to water ratio. If you add some clear WATER SOLUBLE Polycrylic to the end product, it’s quite remarkable.

  • Reply
    dawn
    November 9, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    I use regular elmers glue as well, no water. That seems to have the same results as the store bought Mod Podge.

  • Reply
    deedee
    November 15, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Try using a standard pva glue from the hardware and adding just a little water, this works as well as modge podge alternative and is a LOT cheaper, also check out a product called paverpol from paverpol.com. great product.
    I have also seen a homemade recipe using 1.5 cups flour, .25 cup granulated sugar with 1 cup water and , some vinegar and a drop or two of vege oil, not sure how much vinegar, I suppose it is there to provide anti bacterial protection, will have to test this. More oil, more shine apparently.

  • Reply
    deedee
    November 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Paverpol is ideal for outside use.

  • Reply
    Leah
    November 28, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    yup, use regular Elmer’s glue. And definitely less water! I just add enough water to thin the glue to a brushable amount.
    That said, I have only used this homemade modge podge on paper. I didn’t have yellowing issues (I did this a lot as a kid/teen), but I only kept things for a few years, usually.
    I didn’t know you could buy modge podge until the last year or so when I really got into crafting websites.

  • Reply
    Lauralee Hensley
    January 1, 2014 at 12:55 am

    Read on other pages that if you want that recipe you gave above to have a glossy finish you have to add in about 1 tablespoon of clear varnish to the mixture. Never tried it myself though.

  • Reply
    Hippie_Hart
    February 5, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Found out the hard way.. Mod Podge is NOT waterproof when dry :) Do not use Mod Podge thinking it will waterproof your item… and in high humidity areas, it will get tacky even after its cure time!

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