There is a woman in central Brazil who is making a lot of success
with this technique, although she uses it with gold. If you wish,
take a look at www.filigranadocerrado.com.br .
To get skeleton leaves, you must boil the leaves in a 10 percent
sulphuric acid solution, for about one hour. I have seen it done only
with fresh leaves, the best ones are the thin, crispy ones, like
maple, as you suggested; the fleshy, juicy leaves will not give a
good result. After that, rinse the leaves and take a soft brush, like
a toothbrush or so, as gently rub the leaves in water so they will
release the remaining organic material, and leave only the skeleton.
Let them dry out in the air or pressed down between sheets of
absorbing paper and under a heavy book.
The second part is made by dipping the leaves in liquid purpurine (i
do not know how it is called in the u.s., sorry) or any kind of
conductive paint, like conductive silver, for instance. Let dry, it
is sent for electroplating (hence the conductive paint). I have never
done this myself, but that is how i was instructed to do by a
technician. I believe if you call some company that makes plating (it
is the same method used for making those copper baby shoes, you
know), thay might assist you.
Sorry for all my mistakes, i am having a reeeeally bad time trying
to write in english tonight…