Mandalay Gold Leaf Workshop

Beating Gold into Gold LeafEvery day these young men labour away beating out small slivers of gold into sheets of gold leaf. The work is physically very demanding and for much of the year the temperature in Mandalay peaks around 40C. Each man has to strike a frame containing a sandwich of gold and paper sheets with force and precision using a heavy sledgehammer. This is one of the last 20 remaining handmade gold leaf makers in the world, all of which are located in Mandalay.

Preparing Sandwiches of Gold

Three young women prepare the gold for beating. They arrange the thin blobs of gold and stack it into layers alternating with sheets of paper. When the sandwich is ready they pass it to the men who give it a further round of beating. With each round of beating, the gold becomes progressively thinner until it is the required thickness for gold leaf.

SAM_1909A sandwich of paper and gold ready to be further beaten.




Preparing packs of gold leafThe final stage requires trimming the gold leaf into squares and placing between sheets of handmade paper. The gold leaf is ready for selling in packs of 100. The final thickness of the gold leaf is about four millionths of an inch. It is so thin that about one thousand sheets stacked together would be the same thickness as a standard sheet of paper.

Gold leaf ready for salePacks of 100 sheets of gold leaf on sale in the gold leaf workshop. Most of the gold leaf is used within Myanmar by Bhuddists who use it to apply glitter to images of the Buddha and pagodas. Such famous sites include the Shwedagon Pagoda  in Rangoon, Phaung Daw Oo’s images of the Buddha at Inle Lake, the Mahamyatmuni image in Mandalay, and hundreds of pagodas and Buddha statues in Bagan and elsewhere. Gold leaf is also used to decorate lacquerware, in Burmese traditional medicine and in cosmetics.

Bodhi leaf covered in gold leafA real bodhi tree leaf covered in gold leaf.


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Free Post and Packing

We are pleased to announce that as of the 1st March postage of Skeleton Leaf orders will be free to our UK customers. We will continue to post out all the orders first class, but if that is not quick enough you will still be able to pay for recorded or special delivery.

This change means that discounts will now be offered on orders over £25.

It also means that our website pricing policy is in-line with our Etsy store, to which we are going to add more products over the next few weeks.

We would also like to be able to offer a better deal to our overseas customers and are still exploring ways to do that. Watch this space.

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Make Your Own Bhodi Leaf Bowl

Skeleton leaves are the perfect craft medium, colourful, versatile and intricate. Hopefully this brief tutorial will give you some inspiration for making your very own skeleton leaf creation.

For my red bhodi leaf bowl I used about 30 red bhodi leaves, 6cm (2.5″) size from Skeleton Leaf – Just The Leaves,  but you can make yours with any colour, type or size of skeleton leaf. How many you need depends purely on how large you want to make your bowl.

You will need:

  • Bowl (size of your choice)
  • Skeleton Leaves
  • PVA Glue
  • Cling Film
  • Glue spreader or brush
  • Scissors

Step 1

Cover the outside of your bowl of choice (I used a cereal bowl) with cling film, wrap it tightly and be sure to cover the brim of the bowl too.

Plain Bowl

Step 2

Cover your work surface with newspaper to protect it from any subsequent mess. Coat the outside of your cling film covered bowl with PVA glue.

Step 3

Arrange your leaves starting at the top of the bowl and working towards the base. Firmly press each one into the glue with a brush before coating with more glue. Make sure your leaves overlap otherwise the bowl will fall apart.

Put Leaves on Bowl

Step 4

Allow your bowl to dry overnight.

Allow Leaves to Dry

Step 5

Remove the cling film and attached leaves from the bowl. I used a rubber spatula to help with this.

Step 6

Cut the excess cling film away from the top of the bowl to leave a defined leaf tip edge to your bowl and then enjoy.

Finished Leaf Bowl

Blog and Original Concept by Cat Lyth

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Exciting New Colour Inspiration for 2015 from Skeleton Leaf

Welcome to our latest new colour that we are adding to the skeleton leaf collection – chestnut.

P1020352This chestnut skeleton leaf is a beautiful red-brown and fits perfectly with the colour trends for 2015 as suggested by industry leaders.

Pantone have announced their colour of the year as Marsala

“Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness.”

Our chestnut fits perfectly with Pantone palettes and it will add depth, blending well with a number of our other colours: white, natural, baby pink and khaki for rustic weddings and nature-inspired craft projects.

chestnut stationery invite

This earthy colour theme is also reflected in the Dulux colour of the year – copper blush and our chestnut leaves will complement that well too. We also sell copper leaves, some of which are currently in the sale.

Our warm copper skeleton leaves will blend well with the same pastels as the chestnut leaves, but also provide a wonderful contrast to oranges and yellows for beautiful late summer decorations.

Our chestnut skeleton leaves are currently available in 6cm sizes – buy now

Copper skeleton leaves are available in 4cm, 6cm and 10 cm size – buy now

Need some colour inspiration? We love this Marsala pinterest board from Crieff Photography and this copper blush pinterest board from Yasmin Chopin.

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Skeleton Leaf January Sale Now On

Skeleton leaves are a fantastic product to use in art and craft projects. Their uses are only limited by your imagination. Now is the ideal time to get creative and do a bit of experimenting with skeleton leaves.

Why? Because many of our products will be on sale at 50% off throughout the January sale.

Whether you want to decorate dainty cards with our tiny 4cm leaves are want to make a bold statement with our 25cm leaves, now is your chance.

We have in stock:

  • 2 types of leaves
  • 6 sizes of leaves
  • 21 different colours
  • 2 different pack sizes

If you can’t make up your mind, we even have mixed colour packs.

With the long nights lingering for the next couple of months or so now is the time to get crafty and create your designs for the year.

Here are 10 ideas for using skeleton leaves:

  1. Dream catchers
  2. Wedding stationery
  3. To decorate candles
  4. Floral bouquets
  5. Table decoration
  6. Fairy wings
  7. Birthday cards
  8. Cake decorations
  9. Set into mosaics
  10. Decorating hair clips

We would love to hear how you use skeleton leaves. For skeleton leaf inspiration, check out our facebook page or our pinterest page and please share your creations with us.

The sale is now on!

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DIY Skeleton Leaf Advent Calendar

It was a bit of a dull, wet and gloomy Saturday at Skeleton Leaf UK base this week, so to brighten up the day I got out the glue and glitter to make a Christmas project.

My children are really too old for advent calendars with little doors and the chocolate ones are just horrible, so I decided to make a DIY skeleton leaf advent calendar.

First I bought some small envelopes –  I found blank pay envelopes in the local Boyes store – a pack of 50 for £1.99 – which are perfect.


Then I got out the PVA glue, some packs of silver, gold, red and green skeleton leaves and my box of art embellishments, which includes mulberry paper flowers, glitter, ribbon and sparkly shapes.


I then set about laying out designs on each envelope and just seeing what looked good. I used skeleton leaves of three sizes – 4cm, 6cm and 10cm, although I think the smaller ones gave the most effective design. Once I had decided on the leaves for each envelope I added some embellishments to give a bit of Christmassy sparkle.

plan design

Whilst designing each envelope I also laid them out where they would be on the calendar, so that colours and positions of numbers would be fairly random.

Once I had decided on a design I put pva glue onto the envelopes and stuck everything on. I have found with skeleton leaves that it is a good idea to brush a layer of glue over the top too.

glue over Once I had glued on the embellishments I wrote a large number on each one and then pinned them in position on a cork board to dry.

drying Now that they are dry I will add some treats to each envelope, hang up the cork board, drape some tinsel and it will be ready for the 1st December.

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A Bit of Gothic Style

We are delighted at Skeleton Leaf that Morwen Ayres has joined the team. Morwen loves arts and crafts projects and interior design, so she will be sharing her skeleton leaf “makes” with us. In this blog she tells us how to make a Gothic style headband and choker.

“I had been looking for inspiration to help me make a Halloween costume for a dance event and came across some pictures on Pinterest of gothic costumes using leaves, twigs etc. It got me to thinking about what a good match Skeleton Leaves would be with all the colours and sizes – so began the choosing. I had decided to go with a gothic theme so decided to create a headband and choker with traditional black and slightly different purple as my colours.

To create the headband I used from my existing craft collection an old headband, some black netting, some purple fabric flowers, some lengths of black & purple ribbons and the newly acquired leaves.

gothic leaves

The first step was to create the ribbon type bow by gathering the cut to size netting into a loose bow and stitching to secure then, adding the ribbon lengths and sewing to secure also.

gothic net

Once assembled I secured this to the headband with more stitches at the back but slightly offset – a lot of moves in dancing have hands coming close to the back of your head so didn’t want it to cause an obstruction!!

The next step was to design the net at the front of the band to create a hopefully alluring net over the eyes so after using a model (an upturned mixing bowl!) to get the look right this was secured with a few more stiches.

The fabric roses were attached to this afterwards in the right position.

The final step was to use the Skeleton Leaves, mostly the purple ones to stand out against the black netting, to create the leaves of the flowers. I was also planning to use some more of the leaves around the headband but sadly time limits prevented this.

The leaves were easily sown onto the fabric with some careful (and small) stitching to wrap around the central vein on the leaves and at the top and bottom to firmly anchor them.

The finished result!!

gothic hairband

I also used some of the leaves to create the lace choker – another elemental feature of the overall look I wanted.

To create the choker I used some lace plus a black beaded necklace. I worked out the lengths of necklace to choker that I wanted then used a few stitches to hold the necklace to the bottom edge of the lace. I have done this in such a way that the necklace can be easily detached after use and go back into normal use if required.

The next step was to use the black leaves in between the beaded necklace drops at the bottom edge of the chocker – they will stand out against the paler skin well and the beads act as frame for the leaves.

To finish it off I used the purple leaves on the main body of the lace to add some subtle colour and tie the 2 pieces together.

gothic choker

I’m really pleased with my creations and they both got some compliments on the night and the leaves stayed firmly in place despite some pretty energetic dancing!

Right, I’m going now to make some halloween tea light holders using some more black leaves with red ones this time to glue on some plain glass tea light holders – the light from the tea lights will really make the shape of the leaves stand out. I will use clear craft glue and it will work a treat – a repeat of an earlier project in different colours! Hopefully using the larger red leaves will make it look like flames…….”

Blog by Sam

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