Skeleton leaves are beautiful, lacy, ornate. They are often used in card-making projects, scrapbooks, and other paper related crafts. They also make a wonderful leaf project for kids – children can watch the pulp fall out of the leaves (using the water method) and observe the delicate vascular structure that supports the tree once the skeleton leaf is formed. You can purchase all kinds of artificial skeleton leaves in craft stores, but making your own is cheaper and means you can use any kind of leaf you like. To make a skeleton leaf, you essentially remove the leaf material but leave the network of veins intact. You can also dye the skeleton leaf for a colorful effect.
What you will need:
The first step is to collect leaves you want to skeletonize. The easiest leaves have tougher skeletons – oak and maple leaves are best suited to a beginner. Delicate leaves from smaller shrubs will also work, but may tear when using the washing soda/paintbrush method.
It is possible to make skeleton leaves in about an hour with the use of a Washing Soda solution. Washing soda is sodium carbonate, and may be found in the laundry aisle of your favorite grocery store. This is not the same chemical as baking soda, so do not confuse the two.
Place your favorite leaves to the side. Fill a small sauce pan with 2 cups of water and 3 tablespoons of washing soda. Stir to combine. Bring the water to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat source. Place the leaves in the washing soda solution and allow them to steep for approximately 20 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the leaves and use a paintbrush or a toothbrush to gently remove the leaf pulp. Take care not to tear the actual skeleton – this process is painstaking and takes a gentle hand. Once the pulp is removed, set the skeleton aside to dry.
If you want a pure, white leaf skeleton, place it in a solution of bleach and water. Allow it to sit until all traces of green are gone, then dry.