How to Make a Skeleton Leaf

    by J.C. Lewis

    About the Author

    J.C. Lewis is the editor and co-owner of a weekly newspaper, as well as an editor for a group of newspapers in Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared on,, LIVESTRONG and Lewis holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.


    Skeleton leaves are delicate, ornate, dried leaves used in a variety of arts and crafts projects. 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.

    Things You'll Need

    • Sturdy green leaf
    • Rubber gloves
    • Bleach
    • Paper towel or rag
    • Stiff paint brush
    • Food coloring or unsweetened drink powder
    • Bowl or plastic container

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    Choose a green leaf that is sturdy and not damaged or incomplete. Rinse your leaf under cold water, rubbing away any dirt and dust with your fingers. Be careful not to tear the leaf.

    Put rubber gloves on and make a solution of bleach and water in your sink or a bucket. Use one part bleach to two or three parts water. Place the leaf in the bleach solution and submerge it. Leave the leaf in the bleach solution until it has turned completely white.

    Remove the white leaf from the bleach solution and rinse it gently under cold water. Place the rinsed leaf flat on a rag or paper towel.

    Take a dry, stiff paintbrush and very gently brush away the softened leaf material until only the underlying network of veins and the stem remain. You could also try using your fingers to remove the leaf material if you find that to be easier. For a white skeleton leaf, allow it to dry naturally.

    Mix food coloring or unsweetened drink powder with a little water in a bowl or plastic container. Submerge the skeleton leaf in the dye mixture, let it sit for a minute or two in the dye, and then gently rinse the excess dye away under cold water. For a more intense shade, use more food coloring or unsweetened drink powder and less water.

    • Preserve some leaves from your favorite tree in a scrapbook.
    • Use heart-shaped leaf skeletons on wedding invitations or homemade greeting cards.
    • Laminate a selection of skeleton leaves as an unusual place mat, and make a smaller version with one leaf as a matching coaster.
    • Bleach can easily ruin your clothes, so wear old clothes or an apron when you are working with it. If you get any bleach on your skin, rinse it off immediately.