How to Make Leaf Skeletons

Written by alexis rohlin | 13/05/2017

The inside of a tree leaf is composed of many tiny veins that transport water and nutrients to the leaves. Leaf veins make lacy and complex patterns throughout a leaf, and when the leaf is intact, it is hard to see this. Leaf skeletons are made by boiling leaves and removing the plant pulp to reveal beautiful and delicate leaf veins. By removing the plant tissue, you can create your own leaf skeletons to place in frames or decorate crafts.

Pick up large leaves from your yard. Try to find large, waxy leaves, such as maple and hydrangea.

Set the leaves in the bottom of a large pot. Add 3/4 cup washing soda and 4 cups of water to the pot. Put the pot on your stove burner and turn the burner on. Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium and let the leaves simmer in the water for 1 hour and 45 minutes. When the water boils down, add enough water to cover up the leaves before it starts to burn.

Fill a glass baking dish half way with cold water. Remove the leaves from the pot with a spatula, taking care to be as gentle as possible when you handle them to avoid breaking the leaves. Remove the remaining leaf pulp with a small blunt or short bristled brush, dab or wipe at the leaves to make the pulp wash off into the water.

Gently rinse off the leaves and remove them. Place them on a paper towel and use the brush to remove any remaining plant material that may be on the leaf skeleton.


Be careful when handling boiling water, as it can burn you.

Tips and warnings

  • Be careful when handling boiling water, as it can burn you.

Things you need

  • 3/4 cup washing soda or sodium carbonate
  • Leaves
  • Large pot
  • Shallow glass baking dish
  • Plastic spatula
  • Small blunt or short bristled brush

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