How To Make Leaf Skeletons

Learn a fun way to recycle your leaves this winter with this DIY! 

Come winter, most of the foliage that once colorfully clung to the trees has dropped to the ground. And what’s left but piles and piles of leaves, lining the sides of streets and covering our lawns. Recently, I figured out a creative way to breathe life back into those fallen leaves —  ever hear of leaf skeletons? Something akin to springtime pressed flowers. For a fun winter project, learn how to make leaf skeletons below!

What you need: 

Leaves (oak and maple leaves work best!)



Super washing soda (I found this in the cleaning supplies aisle at Walmart!)


Step One

First, go out and collect some leaves! I filled a small pot with about 10-15 leaves. It doesn’t matter if they are dry or wet. I found that oak and maple leaves work best based on their shape, but any kind will do!

Step Two

Fill up a pot with 4 cups of water and 3/4 cup super washing soda. Add the leaves to the pot and make sure they are covered with the mixture (it’s a good idea to use gloves when dealing with the super washing soda!).

Step Three

Bring the pot of leaves to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let sit on the stove for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  The mixture will start to turn very murky and brown. Feel free to add more water and a bit more washing soda so the pot doesn’t dry out while simmering.


Step Four

After the leaves have simmered for about 2 hours, they will become very brown. Carefully remove them from the pot and place them in cold water. A glass baking dish or plastic bin works well!

Step Five

Take a soft bristled paintbrush and begin to brush away the leaf skin while the leaves are in the cold water. BE VERY CAREFUL! The leaves are very, very delicate. Brushing in a soft, circular motion works best. This takes a little bit of time, but it’s worth it!


Step Six

Once you have brushed most of the leaf skin away, you will be left with a leaf that best resembles lace. Place each leaf on a paper towel and allow to dry.


Step Seven

Now that the leaf skeletons have been made, it’s up to you on how you’d like to use them! I decided to incorporate watercolor paints and make leaf prints with them.


I placed the leaf skeleton down on a piece of watercolor paper and painted on top of the leaf. Once the surface was covered, I lifted it up to reveal a beautiful leaf print!


The leaf skeletons would also look great  lightly dusted with metallic gold spray paint, then placed in a glass bowl or strung onto a garland!

+Have you ever made leaf skeletons? How would you use them? Let us know in the comments below! 

Check out more DIY projects on the BLDG 25 Blog!

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8 years ago

Biology folks, this is vascular xylem right? Tell me my 9th grade AP biology class didn’t fail me.

8 years ago

These prints are so beautiful and organic!

8 years ago

Looks beautiful!

8 years ago

I just don’t have the patience for this kind of thing and I wish I did. You make it look easy. They’re just lovely.

8 years ago

I will forever respect people who make things like this! I wish I was less lazy, but for now, I’ll Pin this to my someday DIY board…

8 years ago

Skeletons are to be found just between the leaves on the ground, so you don’t have to make the first step with soda etc.
I love the use of watercolor paint and effects you reach

8 years ago

Yesss! I just got watercolor pencils (a.k.a the best investment for beginner watercolorists who are on a college budget haha ) and I am so excited for this project *.*

7 years ago

definitely trying this next autumn <3

3 years ago

SO amazing post it was. Thanks for the motivation! :)