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Picture of Concrete Leaves for Gardens or Fountains
P8210041.JPG
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. ( :

Materials needed:

-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)
 -Nitrile gloves
-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

Picture of 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.
 
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How do you get the edges of the leaf to look so neat? Also I found that spraying the leaf with Pam helps with removal.

sharonnah59 (author)  chickenleg121 month ago
Pulling the plastic wrap up and molding with your hand helps the edges look neat. We've tried Pam, but then the paint runs. Washing/blow drying seems just as much of a pain as peeling.
LaurieK31 month ago
I made a elephant ear leaf and It has cracked on one of the side veins. Is there any way to fit it?
sharonnah59 (author)  LaurieK31 month ago
Gorilla Glue works great for this. Just remember it expands, so don't use too much on the top side.
sharonnah59 (author) 1 year ago
By the way, we did try using a cooking spray on the back of of the leaf to hopefully help its removal after the concrete set. Not only did it not help, but made the surface resistant to the paint! Fail.

I use cooking spray, works great you just have to do a quick scrub with a soft brush and a little dish soap, let completely dry and your ready to paint. Also works great if your adding color to the cement (no paint needed) You can also try mixing 2-3 different colors, pouring them at the same time in a swirling fashion. Different every time.

sharonnah59 (author)  leannemtanner3 months ago

Will try the dish soap, thanks! And would love to see a picture of your swirling colored leaves.

annie.treiber7 months ago

Beautiful! I made several last year myself, but seemed to get stuck in a rut with painting them...no fresh ideas! Love these. Do you seal them/prime them before applying the paint and exactly what kind of paint do you buy? Any tips would be appreciated! Thanks a bunch!

I have done quite a few of these awesome leaves and I use cooking spray, works great. With cement colorant no problem, if I want to paint after, I just do a quick scrub with a brush and a little dish soap. Good luck.

sharonnah59 (author)  annie.treiber6 months ago
Hi Annie,

Maddie does not prime them, and uses Thompson water seal after. (The unpainted bottom as well.) She uses rustolium mostly, with some acrylic craft paints for accents and sponging. Thanks for liking!

Sharon
LoriR33 months ago
What type of framework did you use for mounting the leaves for the water feature? Was the weight of the concrete a problem?

I used an elephant ear leaf. It comes right off. I never had to peal it

Now I can't wait to paint it

I read somewhere to use vasoline on the mold/leaf for easy removal....don't know if that would work because then you would have a new problem getting the vasoline off off in order to paint/seal it.....just say'in...

saosport1 year ago

I tried adding photos but am not having any luck from Ipad I will have to wait to do it via desktop. But I started taking the leaf off last night and it looks nice. I am going to make some more this weekend.

saosport1 year ago

I just made mine last night can't wait to see them thanks for the great instructable

sharonnah59 (author)  saosport1 year ago

Great Saosport! Feel free to add a picture here when you're done. ( :

lryder11 year ago

I've found that WD 40 works well to remove cast when sprayed before you fill.

sharonnah59 (author)  lryder11 year ago
Have you had success painting the surface after using WD 40?
fretted1 year ago
But what you could uses on the back of the leaf is this you would only need one thin coat and quite possibly you could coat both sides and use the leaf twice

http://shop.hobbylobby.com/products/mold-builder-liquid-latex-30452/

I
 use this to make concrete molds it stinks like cat pee it has a lot of ammonia in it but it's natural latex  if you brush on a very thin coat you should have no problem peeling the leaf back off the back of the concrete ! 
sharonnah59 (author)  fretted1 year ago
Now that's an interesting product! I don't think we'd get the deep veins we like from the top side...but it is worth experimenting with. Thanks a bunch Fretted!
Sharonnah59, 2questions... Can it be made strong enough to walk on? And you stated you wanted a shout out to people to donate to the cause... Can you explain?
sharonnah59 (author)  sclayman1 year ago

Hi sclayman, I would not use these as pavers. But if you build a wood form (at least 1.5" thick) and use mostly sidewalk concrete for the base, you can make a good 2 dimensional impression in a top layer of the above patching concrete mix. The "donation" refers to finding people willing to give their large rhubarb or other leaves, if you do not grow your own.

well, if someone makes me two... I can use one of them as a mold for glass and I can send them one back out of glass..

thanks

cgurlz1 year ago
Those are awesome! You should sell those!
diy_bloke1 year ago
gorgeous
Quizicat2 years ago
What is the purpose of taking the leaf up and putting plastic wrap down? Why not just put the plastic down at first. (maybe I'm missing something)
sharonnah59 (author)  Quizicat2 years ago
Quizicat and the bigkeger, there is some shaping of the sand being done at this step. Maddie says she often removes/replaces the leaf a couple of times before being satisfied with the shape. Why wrestle with wrap if you don't have to, right? And yes, it is casting the back of the leaf.
Aaah, that had me puzzled, too. Might want to add it to the instructions to save dummies like me some headache in the future, teehee!
I'm still lost on the use of the plastic wrap though! Halp!
Toffy1 year ago
These are so terrific......job well done.
sharonnah59 (author) 1 year ago
Sure appreciate all the support, thank you, thank you!
poofrabbit1 year ago
Just wanted to say congratulations on being a finalists in the Concrete & Casting Contest! This was such a great idea, every time I see it I smile. Good luck!
TeemoSto2 years ago
Super cool; you got my vote!
tim_n2 years ago
I did the same a while back (http://www.instructables.com/id/Ornamental-paving-slabs/) however came to the conclusion it needed wire embedded otherwise it cracks.

Found peeling worked better than any other method too.
woodpuppy2 years ago
I love the porjeckt. Spray the leaf with cookingspray (pam) or hairspray befor casting, comes out like a charm then
Wow, going to have to try that!!

Wonder if a very fine sand and a sand blaster would remove the leaf without damaging the concrete.

Or maybe put it out in the sun until the leaf dries up and crumbles?
11Brenda2 years ago
Absolutely beautiful !!!
kjackman12 years ago
Very creative and interesting project! My question is what kind of paint did you use for the metallic finish?
sharonnah59 (author)  kjackman12 years ago
Rustoleum. (Gold, silver, copper, & brass)
velcro22 years ago
I give this project high marks for imagination and creativity. I wonder if you coated the leaf with a "parting wax" then wouldn't that make it easier to remove the leaf from the mold? I was also thinking of how you could make a large rubber mold out of your original and then duplicate the best leaves. I also was thinking of making them into stepping stones by adding some steel mesh and another 1" to 2" layer to the underside. Thanks for sharing. This is a great project.
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