My creative workbook

Christine de Beer Floral Lifestyle Design

Skeleton Leaves

This is not easy. Nor is it quick. At best I can tell you that it will definitely... maybe work. Or maybe... definitely. But it is great fun and when it works it is highly addictive and you will never look at leaves in quite the same way again.

Line a oven tray with baking paper.

Line a oven tray or casserole dish with baking paper.

Measure out the baking soda.

Measure out 3/4 cup of the baking soda.

Bake the baking soda in an oven.

Bake the Baking Soda in an oven at 200'C for 30 minutes. This turns the Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) into Washing Soda (sodium carbonate)

Make sure you are extra careful when using Washing Soda. It has a pH of 11 so wear protective gloves and glasses to avoid skin or eye irritation.

Measure two cups of water.

Boil a full kettle of water. Measure out two cups and pour it into a saucepan. You will need the rest of the water to top up your leafy-soup as the water boils away.

Dissolve the sodium carbonate

Dissolve the sodium carbonate. When the mixture reaches boiling point turn the heat down to simmer.

Choose a few leaves. As a rule waxy leaves work best. Flip the leaf over and look at the veins. The more pronounced the vein network on the back of the leaf the better the end result. Some leaves will also discolour while others remain green.

Ivy leaves

For this tutorial I chose Ivy leaves to show you a leaf that remains green

Salal leaves.

and Salal (Lemon Leaf) to show how the leaves turn progressively darker as their chlorophyll breaks down.

Simmer the leaves.

Gently simmer the leafy soup for an hour and a half to two hours. Top up the water level as the water evaporates.

When you notice the flesh starts to become soft and float away from the veins, lift the leaf out of the water with a spatula or the back of a large spoon and rinse in cold water.

Place the leaf on a smooth flat surface and smooth with a brush.

Place the leaf on a smooth flat surface and smooth any creases away with a brush.

Blot away any moisture with a cotton bud.

Blot away any moisture with a cotton bud.

Paint the leaf with water and start to brush away the pulp.

"Paint" the leaf with water and start to brush away the fleshy pulp.

Continue to blot away moisture and painting the leave with water.

Continue to blot away moisture and painting the leaf with clean water.

When the veins show through dry the leaf.

Set the leaf aside to dry, when the veins show through and the fleshy pulp is removed from this side of the leaf.

Flip the leaf over and clean the other side

Flip the leaf over and clean the other side.

As the leaf dry it will pull away from the glass.

When the skeleton leaf is dry it will naturally pull away from the glass. But if any bits remain stuck carefully wiggle it loose with a needle

A batch of skeleton Ivy leaves, ready to design with

A batch of skeleton Ivy leaves, ready to design with

Paint the leaf with clean water and wash away the pulp.

The Salal (Lemon Leaf) was a bit more robust and easier to work with. Paint the leaf with clean water and wash away the pulp.

Flip the leaf over and paint and wash away the other side.

Flip the leaf over and paint and wash away the other side.

Almost a skeleton leaf.

Almost a skeleton leaf!

A batch of skeleton Salal leaves

A batch of skeleton Salal leaves, ready to design with

To bleach the leaves:

Pour bleach into a shallow dish

Place the leaves in a shallow dish a pour in enough bleach to just cover the leaves

Bleaching leaves

It will immediately start to bleach

Bleached leaves.

After a few minutes the leaves will be a pale yellow

White leaves

and then a beautiful winter white

Every week I add a new design with related tutorials. Be sure to subscribe to receive an email notification with design inspiration.

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Christine de Beer

This is my ongoing creative workbook to research and capture design projects and techniques. You will mostly find ideas for floral art but I will also include some other projects such as gift packaging, cards and even cake decorating with a few lifestyle projects arranged in between.

Everything you see in this workbook was designed, made and photographed by me, unless specific credit is given to another designer.

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