Kindly vote for this in the Concrete Casting Contest! Thanks ever so much. ( :
This instructable is on behalf of Madeline Werner, the caster of these lovely leaves. Being inbetween jobs, I have the time (and inclination) to do it! This is an easy, cheap, and fun way to make a lasting addition to any landscape. We hope you enjoy our first instructable. Feedback welcome. ( :
-Large, fresh, veiny leaves such as rhubarb (don't worry if they have a few holes) or smaller like hosta
-50 lbs. Play Sand for forming
-Plastic wrap, food storage type
-50--80 lb. Bag of Concrete (sand aggregate only)
-Spray and hand paints, brushes, etc.
-Water sealer for concrete
Optional: Portland Cement, concrete colorant, wire to coil and set for hanging, chicken wire or drywall mesh joint tape for more strength
Step 1: Gather Leaves
Put the shout out to all you know, we offer a free finished leaf to anyone who donates to the cause. I've even stopped by a commercial farm, and they were happy to oblige.
Keep in water until ready to use, but no more than a couple of days.
Step 2: Prep the Casting Area
Maddie started off doing them on the ground in the carport, then I built her a table in her shop. (Much easier on the back!) Extra large are still done on the ground.
Press the leaf on a pile of sand to desired shape, mounding or flatening. Remove the leaf, then cover the sand with plastic wrap. Return the leaf to its original spot. Prep all leaves to be cast before the next step.
Step 3: Mix the Concrete
Maddie has found that adding Portland cement (Up to a coffee can per 40 lbs.) makes a stronger leaf, and is the easiest way to get the water/concrete to the nice pasty consistancy if you've added too much water. A 1/2 bag (about 40 lbs,) of concrete will do 5 medium sized leaves. We call approx. 18" across the widest point "medium" sized. 12" and 24" would be small and large.
Step 4: Pile It On
Still talking about a medium leaf, it is about 3/4 to 1" thick along the rib, tapering to about 3/8" thick at the edges. Rolling the wrap can neaten up the edges. Do the thickness in two steps if you plan to add the hanging wire, or mesh tape/chicken wire. The latter advised if hanging, and for large to monster leaves.
Step 5: Let It Be for at Least a Day, 2 Is Better
2 is better! (Water bottle is for scale)
Step 6: Pealing Takes the Most Time!
We've tried compressed air, and a jet of water (from garden hose sprayer). It seems that patience works best. The first one still needs work. Needle nose pliers, picks, and stiff brushes can help.
Step 7: Painting
No holds barred here, whatever you want goes. We've been liking the metalic look lately, with some accent color in the veins. A sponge for blending works nicely. Finish with the water seal front and back after the paint has dried and you're done! Resealing once a year is highly recommended. One warning, if you bring one to work or a gathering to give to somebody...you will be making more!