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Step 1: Watch the Video
Watch the video in this step or keep going for the step-by-step with photos and text.
Step 2: Sand Mound
Build up a mound of sand on a piece of cardboard or a sheet of plastic. The mound of sand will give the leaf its domed shape. You can also use a bowl or something similar. The cardboard will help contain the sand and make clean-up easier.
- Cover the sand mound with a plastic bag or painter's plastic. This keeps the leaf separate from the sand.
- Lay the leaf on the mound with the vein-side up. This is usually the back side of the leaf. Packing the mix onto this side will give the best detail and the deepest impression.
Fresh vs. Dry Leaves: Fresh leaves are best. Dry leaves will suck water from the mix, resulting in a chalkier finish. A fresh leave won't do this, and will be easier to remove.
Step 3: Mix and Pack
- Begin packing the mix on the leaf, starting in the middle and working outward.
- Work swiftly and add a little bit of water to the mix if it starts to dry out. This will help you get a consistent finish and it will minimize dry spots or seams in the piece.
- Build up the mix to about 3/8" thick. Down the center of the leaf, you might build up a spine to help strengthen the piece.
- Take the time to finish the edges of the piece. It is a lot easier to shape the mix before it has cured.
When you're finished, cover the piece with another sheet of plastic and let it cure for 24+ hours.
Step 4: Remove Leaf
Removing the leaf should be relatively easy.
- Peel it away in sections.
- Use a tool like a small flat screwdriver or awl to remove the deeper bits like the veins and stem.
- A nylon brush will help get the rest of the leaf out without scratching the piece.
Step 5: The Finished Piece
A round leaf like this is an easy one to try first. Some leaves will be more challenging than others, and some will look better than others, just experiment until you find one that you like.
I think the leaf here is from Piper auritum, or Root Beer Plant. The leaves grow about 12" long on older plants, and they smell like anise, which is nice when you're peeling the leaf away.
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