select leaves with a heavy vein pattern. Some good ones to start with
are holly, magnolia, ivy, maple, oak, beech, and crab apple. Don't
forget weeds with good vein patterns. Just remember to experiment with
the leaves before you need them for a project. Always use a glass pot
for cooking the leaves, or glass bowls if you decide to soak them. All
the chemicals listed in the recipes below will interact with metals
and either damage the metal container or cause a chemical reaction you
were not anticipating.
Always wear rubber
gloves when working with these chemicals and work in a well-ventilated
- 1 quart water
- 2 tablespoons lye
- glass pot large
enough to hold the above plus leaves
Place the water into
the pot, then carefully add the lye. It may bubble up or release an
odor, so don't have your face near the pot. Add the leaves. Place over
low heat until the water starts to bubble. Simmer for 20 to 40 minutes,
depending on the type of leaves. Remove the leaves and rinse in cold
water. When all the lye is rinsed from the leaves, spread them onto
waxed paper. Gently scrape the loose flesh from the leaves using the
edge of a spoon or a dull table knife.
If you want to bleach
the leaves, mix 2 tablespoons bleach to 1 quart water. Soak the leaves
for 20 to 60 minutes, depending on the desired effect. Rinse leaves
again, and place flat on paper towels to dry.
To color the leaves,
add food coloring to rubbing alcohol and soak the cleaned leaves in
the solution. You can also spray-paint the leaves.
Same as method 1, except substitute 1 teaspoon washing soda for the
Mix about 2/3 cup washing soda in 2 to 3 quarts of water in a glass or
plastic bowl. Add the leaves and cover. Place the bowl in a sunny
location for 2 to 5 weeks. Rinse the leaves and scrape as above.