The following is a simple method of preparing skeleton leaves, and is decidedly preferable to the old and tedious method of maceration, as it is quite as efficient and not at all offensive. First dissolve four ounces of common washing soda in a quart of boiling water, then add two ounces of slaked quicklime and boil for about fifteen minutes. Allow the solution to cool: afterwards pour off all the clear liquor into a clean saucepan. When this liquor is at its boiling beat place the leaves carefully in the pan, and boil the whole together for an hour, adding from time to time enough water to make up for the loss by evaporation. The epidermis and parenchyma of some leaves will more readily separate than others. A good test is to try the leaves after they have been gently boiling for an hour, and if the cellular matter does not easily rub off betwixt the finger and thumb beneath cold water, boil them again for a short time. When the fleshy matter is found to be sufficiently softened, rub them separately but very gently beneath cold water until the perfect skeleton is exposed.
The skeletons, at first, are of a dirty white color; to make them of a pure white, and therefore more beautiful, all that is necessary is to bleach them in a weak solution of chloride of lime - a large teaspoonful of chloride of lime to a quart of water; if a few drops of vinegar are added to the solution it is all the better, for then the free chlorine is liberated. Do not allow them to remain too long in the bleaching liquor, or they will become too brittle, and cannot afterwards be handled without injury. About fifteen minutes will be sufficient to make them white and clean looking. Dry the specimens in white blotting paper, beneath a gentle pressure. Simple leaves are the best for young beginners to experiment on; the vine, poplar, beach and ivy leaves make excellent skeletons. Care must be exercised in the selection of leaves, as well as the period of the year and the state of the atmosphere when the specimens are collected; otherwise, failure will be the result. The best months to gather the specimens are July and August. Never collect specimens in damp weather, and none but perfectly matured leaves ought to be selected.