How to Make Skeleton Leaves
Skeleton Leaves for Paper Crafting Projects
Skeleton Leaves: Selecting Strong Leaves
Thin, wispy skeleton leaves 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. These leaves are beautiful, lacy, and can be purchased from craft stores. Skeleton leaves are also extremely simple to make.
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.
Easy Skeleton Leaves: The Water Method
The simplest way to make skeleton leaves is to simply place them in a bucket of water and wait until the pulp falls out of the leaf. This may take 2-3 weeks, but the process is gentle to the leaf and requires no effort.
The water will need to be changed every few days, as the pulp begins to fall out of the leaves. The water will also become rancid quickly, so be sure to replace it with fresh water on a regular basis. It is a wise idea to add some bleach to the water to prevent decay: simply add about 1/4 cup bleach to a shallow bucket of water.
Once all of the pulp is gone, remove the leaf skeletons and allow them to dry. Use them in your favorite crafts.
Use Washing Soda to Make Skeleton LeavesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Fast Skeleton Leaves: The Washing Soda 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.
Collect your favorite leaves and place them 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.
How to Dye Skeleton Leaves
Skeleton leaves may be used when they are bleach-white, but they can also be dyed for use in fall-themed cards, wreaths, or other projects. Basic food coloring is one option for dying the leaf skeletons. Simply submerge the leaves in a solution of food coloring and water and allow the skeletons to soak until they take up the color.
Unsweetened drink powder mixes (such as kool-aid) will also dye leaves - add the powder to some water in a small bowl and dye the skeleton leaves in this mixture. Once the dye has set, simply run the leaves under clear water and allow them to dry.
Skeleton Leaf Project Ideas
Skeleton Leaf Poinsettias:
Dye skeleton leaves red. Arrange 5 leaves in a circle, with the points facing out. Arrange another five leaves in a circle on top of the first layer, with the top leaves rotated so that they fill the gaps created by the first layer. Glue the leaves together and allow them to dry. Add tiny gold beads to the center of the poinsettias.
Skeleton Leaf Wreath:
Attach several skeleton leaves to a wire coat hanger to create a wreath. Bend a wire coat hanger into a circle. This project requires many skeleton leaves - amass the leaves and lay them out on the wire circle to ensure there are a sufficient amount to hide the wire. Use a needle and thread, and tie each leaf onto the coat hanger, wrapping the thread around the wire several times between each leaf. The result will be a lacy, beautiful creation to hang on your door. Try using dyed leaves for this project for a fall-themed door hanging.
Skeleton Leaf Cards:
Use a template to trace a design (such as a heart or star) onto a skeleton leaf, and cut out the design. Place the skeleton leaf shape onto a colorful background using a glue stick - allow the glue to dry, then add a special sentiment to the card. Alternatively, use small, whole skeleton leaves on the card for a more natural look.
Questions & Answers
Can I use washing powder to make skeleton leafs?
If your washing powder is sodium carbonate (soda ash), then it will work nicely to create skeleton leaves. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is not the same chemical and will not work for this purpose.Helpful 9
Does it matter if the pan/pot is nonstick or not when making skeleton leaves?
It should not matter if the pot is non-stick, though please take care not to heat a non-stick (teflon-coated) pan to high temperatures. Heated teflon can release carbonyl fluoride, which is toxic. I prefer to use stainless steel pots and pans over teflon coated equipment in general.Helpful 4