It's beginning to look a lot like Autumn.
I took this photo last Friday after I finished working at the Arboretum. I love how they made such a beautiful setting in front of the lake. Our trees are slow to change colors this year so we have to make color on our own.
One of the things we've been working on at the Arb are these giant cement leaf castings. One of the gals I work with does an amazing job with these. This castor bean leaf casting measures about 16" in diameter and can be used as a garden ornament, a ground birdbath or for holding seeds. Faye took the unfinished casting home and painted and sealed it and brought it back to be sold in the gift shop. She does a wonderful job with the painting, don't you think?
This is how they look wet. We use equal parts Portland cement and sand. To give strength to larger leaves like this one Faye adds a little acrylic cement bonding liquid found at the hardware store. Then add water to the mixture until you have the consistancy of mashed potatoes or peanut butter. Build a mound of wet play sand on a plastic covered board roughly in the shape of the leaf you choose to use. Then lay the leaf face down over the sand and begin adding the cement mixture to the back (veined) side of the leaf. For a little personal touch Faye adds a little leaf imprint to the base.
Cover the wet casting with a sheet of plastic and wait about a week. Once the cement has set up you can use a wire brush to gently scrub the remaining leaf from the cement. Letting the leaf completely dry out will make removal easer, as the veins will shrink when drying.
This is how a casting looks when dry. For this casting we used an elephant ear leaf. You can see where some of the leaf is still adhered to the cement. A little more scrubbing will remove this but be careful not to scrub away your cement.
Here we are working on a new batch of leaf castings. Faye is working on the castor bean leaf shown above. You can use any size leaf to do this. We are making smaller, thinner leaf castings to be sold as tree ornaments or tiny dishes. These are not food safe when finished, so be careful what you use them for.
This is a sampling of the finished leaves that we made in the above photo. Try painting them in different colors.
And this how the unfinished leaf turned out. So beautiful! After painting them Faye sprays them with an acrylic cement sealer to help them stand up to the elements. It is not advised to leave them out through the winter as the freezing of water in them may make them crack.
Give this a try. It really isn't hard at all and it is so much fun.