How to Make Skeleton Leaves





Introduction: How to Make Skeleton Leaves

Skeleton leaves are made by removing the leaf tissue from certain varieties of leaves without damaging the intricately laced veins. The skeleton leaves look beautiful and can be used in so many crafts like making greeting cards, drawing and with paper craft. There are many kinds of leaves which can be used for making skeleton leaves. Here I have used leaves from the Sacred Fig tree (Ficus religiosa). The tree is known as Sacred Fig in India as it is worshiped and grown in Hindu temples.

This instructable will guide you on how to make skeleton leaves in very simple steps without using any chemicals.

Step 1: Collect and Soak Matured Leaves

  • Collect few matured leaves from the Sacred Fig tree. Do not use young tender leaves as the immature veins will get damaged during this process
  • Place the leaves in a wide plastic bucket and add water to cover the leaves
  • Take about 100 ml of curd and add to the water in the bucket
  • Mix well and allow the leaves to soak in curd-mixed water.

Step 2: See the Bacteria Working on the Leaves

  • The bacteria present in the curd will start working on the leaf tissue.
  • In the first two pictures you can see the progress after two days of immersion in curd water
  • The third picture shows the leaves after one week.
  • After about ten days, you can see most of the leaf tissue has been eaten away and the veins are cleanly visible.

Step 3: Clean the Skeleton Leaves

  • After about 15 days, you will find most of the leaf tissue has been eaten and the veins are cleanly visible. Still there are few tissue attached to the leaves.
  • Using a soft brush, very gently brush away the remaining tissue from the leaves. Soak the leaves in water from time to time to wash away the brushed tissue. You can use an old tooth brush also for this.
  • Place the skeleton leaf on a piece of paper. You can see that the leaf contains lot of tissue here and there
  • Take care while handling the wet leaves. The portion near the stem is very weak. The skeleton leaf will tear away near the stem if you do not handle them properly. Please see the damaged leaf near the stem in the last picture

Step 4: Wash in Clean Water

  • Wash the leaves once again in clean water and gently remove whatever tissue sticking to the leaf.
  • Place the skeleton leaf on a piece of paper to dry
  • You can store the dried skeleton leaves in between pages of books for a very long time.
  • I have tried to sketch an outline on one of the skeleton leaf. Though I am not a good artist, it turned out well

Have fun...



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What kind of curd? It would help a lot to add a list of ingredients and materials.


Anybody know if these skeletons would be strong enough to electroform/plate or make a mold with to cast? Suggestions on methods would be much appreciated because I would really like to use these in some way for jewelry making. Thank-you.

5 replies

Hello, If you find a way to plate, gold, silver, nickel..please let me know!!!


Larry, you can look at the setups from
Making your own plating solution requires some pretty corrosive and dangerous chemicals, so if you're willing to, and if you're in the US, you can invest in some of the pre-made solutions, though they are expensive. I make my own copper solution for electroforming, but I outsource for silver and gold.

Yes, they're strong enough to electroform as long as you seal it properly. They are, however, not thick enough to make a casting mold. You could electroform and then use that to make the mold though.

I understand electroplate, never heard of electroform, are these different or the same procedure, just different names.?


Hi Larry, electroforming is similar to plating, however, you're building a much thicker layer than electro-plating. You can read through the whole exchange on reddit here:

If you have any further questions, feel free to ask me, cheers!

WOW! That is very interesting and amazing!

Your instructions are very good! Thank you for posting!

We don't have trees like that near, so I was wondering if there are any other leaves that have the intricate veins that would work?

If not its okay, and still a very interesting and doable project!

2 replies

I am not sure what kind of trees are in your place, but you can try with leaves from most of the trees. Look under the trees for fallen leaves. If the rotting leaves have vein structure, then you can try with them.


What is curd? Where can I get it?

1 reply

It is known as yogurt in some places

Thank you for bringing back wonderful memories of my science, biology, and art class projects. The leave you shown here is the Bohdi tree's leave from India variety and in my opinion its leaves is the prettiest of the 3 species growing in S.E. Asia.

Here is what I did:

I flatten the leaves between plate glass and tile to soften the stem join but without breaking.the join.

Soak the leaves in lime water. my process may take longer than your process.

After cleaning and removing leave tissues I used blotter paper to remove most of the water then I form the leave to the shape I wanted between the plate glass and blotter paper and tile.

I sometime color the leaves with beet juice (dark red), Carrot juice (orange), heated lime stone and water for pink etc.........

My brother once did plated one with gold in the plating bath but after plating it ruined the bath. I think if he clean it well, plated it with nickel then gold it may be find.

I may do it with my grant child if he want to try. Again, thank you for bringing it back.

Would these finished leaves work on clear windows to keep birds from crashing into the panes of glass? Maybe with a glue like "Elmer's"?

1 reply

Could you use these as stencils? Place on a flat surface, spray some paint on top, to get a leaf impression on the surface?

1 reply

you can try it. I think you will get good results


Very interesting. Putting some food colouring in with the end soaking would also give them an interesting look, and could be made in any colour to coordinate with the rest of a project. I see lots of options for these lovely pieces. Thank you for showing us how to make them. Well done !

1 reply

Is there a online source that I could fine more types of leaves that might work following your Instructable?

Thank you

1 reply

Please see this link here