Garden Art forum: Concrete Leaves Tutorial

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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Jul 21, 2011 7:19 AM CST
Recipe: Just use white portland cement and sand...1 part cement to 3 parts sand...and add a couple of cap fulls of concrete acrylic fortifier (Quikrete makes one). Add enough water to make the mixture thick enough so it doesn't run off the leaf. I made the mistake once of adding more sand when the mixture was too thin. It made the concrete weak and the leaf crumbled when it dried.

There are many different ways and recipes for making concrete leaves. Check the Internet!

A few notes: You don't have to paint the leaves. You can attach a hanger on the back of the leaf (while it's wet) in case you decide to hang it. The more sand you mound, the more "cupped" the leaf will be. Some people like them flat, but cupping them a bit makes them a little more realistic.

I'll gladly answer any questions you may have.

Thumb of 2011-06-25/Bubbles/325e0a
[Last edited by Boopaints - Aug 6, 2011 3:14 PM (+)]
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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
Image
Bubbles
Jun 16, 2011 10:31 AM CST
Here's the start of making the cement leaves.....Mounding the sand to give the leaf a shape and covering it with saran wrap...
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Placing the leaf on the mounded wet sand

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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
Image
Bubbles
Jun 16, 2011 10:37 AM CST
Cover the back of the leaf with cement mixture of sand cement and a little bonding agent.....
For such a large leaf, I added a layer of chicken wire, then more cement...
Having the plastic wrap not only protects the leaf from the sand, but also give you something to pull up to keep the cement from slipping off the leaf if it's too wet...
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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
Image
Bubbles
Jun 16, 2011 10:41 AM CST
So easy, even a 5 yr old can do it with a smaller leaf....and a little leftover cement....
Be sure to wear gloves, it's a little hard not to "sculpt" the edges with your hands...

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Name: Carey
Austin, TX (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Dog Lover Container Gardener Tropicals Roses
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Plumerias Orchids Plant and/or Seed Trader Butterflies Birds
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careyana
Jun 16, 2011 7:28 PM CST
Gosh Sandi, you make it look so easy!
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Jun 16, 2011 8:31 PM CST
It really is easy. Tomorrow, I'll turn it over and see if it's set enough to refine the edges a bit with a Dremmel tool. Then it needs to dry for a few days more.
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Jun 17, 2011 10:15 AM CST
Time to peel the real leaf off the cement leaf.....had to cure for at least 48 hours

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And here's the leaf! Still needs to cure a bit, so back onto the sand for a while

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Then it'll be time to paint it. I can only imagine what he'll come up with.....
Notice, I didn't uncover my leaf yet.... Made his the "test" one...
Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Clematis Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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canadanna
Jun 19, 2011 7:37 AM CST
Great idea on the aprons..was it an auction item?Thank you for the step by step.What kind of cement do you use? You made that look easy. Love the leaf shape too. Drooling
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
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Bubbles
Jun 19, 2011 9:45 PM CST
Just use white portland cement and sand...1 part cement to 3 parts sand...and add a couple of cap fulls of concrete acrylic fortifier (Quikrete makes one). You want the mixture thick enough so it doesn't run off the leaf.

The aprons were not an auction item, but something I thought would be fun for us to wear as we demonstrate our projects at the garden party this coming Sunday. The other demo is making ceramic pots...hands on for members...that the leader will take back to her studio to fire!

The kicker is the weather. I think it was 106 for us yesterday up at the lake. It'll probably be at least 100 here the afternoon of the garden party (4-6)....
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
Image
Bubbles
Jun 19, 2011 9:54 PM CST
We were at the lake this weekend, so I didn't get to peel the leaf off the cement until this evening

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I peeled the leaf halfway off to show the imprint of the veins on the cement
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All the outer edges beyond the actual edges of the leaf will get sanded off by my Dremmel tool...Thumb of 2011-06-20/Bubbles/409c40

The nearly finished product, before sanding and painting. I made a small hole in the middle in case I decided to use it for water. I could plug it with a tiny cork, but this leaf is much too flat for water, I think.
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Name: Carey
Austin, TX (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Dog Lover Container Gardener Tropicals Roses
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Plumerias Orchids Plant and/or Seed Trader Butterflies Birds
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careyana
Jun 19, 2011 10:42 PM CST
It looks awesome Sandi! I'd have to make tiny little leaves...my plumi has the biggest leaves of all my plants. :)
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
Image
Bubbles
Jun 20, 2011 10:11 AM CST
The leaf on the left was laid onto the wet sand. Those pin holes are air bubbles on the left one. The right one was laid on saran wrap over the sand. It has a smooth finish.

Thumb of 2011-06-20/Bubbles/d47e0f
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
Image
Bubbles
Jun 20, 2011 10:13 AM CST
Beginning to smooth the edges on the right side of the rough leaf....

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Same thing with the smooth leaf
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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
Image
Bubbles
Jun 20, 2011 10:19 AM CST
Smooth leaf almost finished sanding edges.....

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Rough leaf...same thing....
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Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Clematis Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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canadanna
Jun 20, 2011 6:08 PM CST
That is fabulous! Love that you showed the difference with sand and saran. I suppose the sanding can be done with sandpaper or what...I don't have a dremmel
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
Image
Bubbles
Jun 20, 2011 6:22 PM CST
Smoothing the edges is optional. I like to paint mine, so prefer a smooth finish. Sandpaper would work if you do it within a few days of drying. Otherwise, it's going to be too hard to work with.
Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Clematis Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
canadanna
Jun 20, 2011 6:45 PM CST
Hopefully only one more dumb question about sand..Playground or any kind?
Name: Anna
North Texas (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Clematis Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
canadanna
Jun 20, 2011 6:46 PM CST
And who is the strong set of muscles that carries the cement?
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
Image
Bubbles
Jun 20, 2011 7:47 PM CST
General purpose sand or playground...doesn't matter. I used general. DH carried the cement....a whole half coffee can full, from the garage to the backyard! We already had half a bag full from my last leaf project with a neighbor. You'll use nearly a half bag of sand for each large leaf, like an EE, because of building up the sand to shape the leaf. Otherwise, the leaf is pretty flat...which is okay, if that's your preference. Sand is reusable too.
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
Texas Gardening
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Master Gardener: Texas
Region: Texas Tropicals Plumerias Ferns Greenhouse Garden Art
Image
Bubbles
Jun 24, 2011 6:07 AM CST
I painted the leaf last night. The first coat was the undercoat. Then I lightened up the middle with a second coat. I'm now going to try to "un-do" what I did on the third coat. I decided to paint it like a Miss Muffet caladium, with bright fuschia speckles. I did not like the results! As soon as the sun is bright enough to paint again...I'm going to try to "fix" it.

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