Saturday, February 4, 2012

Leaf Casting, a dirty job but someone has to do it.

Hi folks, well I'm going to try this again.  Hopefully I'll get it right this time.

Leaf Castings

From the

North Forty


Scratch Pad

A leaf casting is a one-of-a-kind replica
of an actual leaf.
The process is time consuming but very
gratifying, as you watch a damp mound
of sand become the foundation of a de-
tailed concrete sculpture.
Each leaf is unique in itself, resulting in
a finished product that cannot be dupli-
Finished leaves range in size from small
and delicate to substantial structures over
three feet in length.
Usage and prices (if you plan on selling your creations) will vary accordingly.

                Now a look at the process.

The raw materials: Portland cement,
Play sand, fortifier, fiberglass tape and of course,
water and a leaf of your choice.

The formula is: 1 part portland cement
2 parts play sand
and water enough so that mixture is the consistency of toothpaste.
Add the fortifier to your first addition of water and then stir thoroughly every time you add water.

After determining the size and shape of
your leaf, make a mound of damp play-sand on
an appropriate level surface.

Next, cover the sand with plastic wrap and replace
the leaf, face down.

Mix your dry ingredients together wearing a mask and protective gloves and with plenty of ventilation. Add your liquid ingredients til the mixture is the consistency of toothpaste. Begin applying in the center working toward the edges, as evenly as possible.

Finish covering the leaf as evenly as possible, being careful not to cover the edges of the leaf.
If the leaf is over 12 inches in either direction,
consider adding fiberglass tape in a criss-cross
pattern to strengthen the piece.
Now would be the time to embed wire for
a hanger if you wish.

Add another layer of concrete mix to cover any tape. Smooth the surface as best as possible. Misting with water sometimes helps.

Now the hard part...cover your casting loosely with plastic and leave it alone for 48 hours.
Only then should you try and lift the casting.
Lift it gently and turn it over, again placing it on a secure surface.
Now the fun part...remove the leaf from the casting to see your creation.
As you can see, parts of the leaf will remain.
Let the leaf dry for another 48 hours and then pull or scrub out ALL the remaining vegetation.

                     After all the leaf is removed, it's time to
paint,” I use acrylics, watered down till
they're almost a wash. Several thin coats
seem to work the best. It's up to you as to
color depth and hue, etc.
This would also be the time to work on the back,
sanding rough spots, drilling for an anchor
hole or otherwise making it work for its
intended purpose. The back usually gets a
standard coat of acrylic paint.
To bring out all the colors in the leaf, apply
2 or more coats of an indoor – outdoor
clear urethane or varnish.
Have Fun!


  1. WOW that looks like a fossil leaf-pile I found somewhere here in the West. Natural casting. Must pull myself together to photo it and post to you.

  2. When are you going to start selling these things? They are so gorgeous. I'll help!

  3. Oh and when are you going to write about your writers block? If you do I'll comment about my painters' block!

    1. going to write a bit today...I see you wrote about your painting troubles. C'est la vie.