Looking for a project easy to make and long lasting? This is it. It will look stunning in your yard or as a birdbath. Smaller leaves can be used for decoration on outdoor tables.
- Large leaf (Large: rhubarb, gunnura or large hosta leaves or small: datura, oak, maple)
- 1 bag of sand or pile of dirt from yard
- 2 bags of concrete, makes two large leaves (Quickcrete or vinyl patch concrete)
- Plastic tub
- Tubular concrete form
- Paint or concrete dye (optional)
- Concrete sealer
- Bucket or mixing tray for concrete
- Hoe for mixing
- Scrub brush
- Paint brush
- Foam brush
- 2 contains for paint and sealer, environmentally safe
- Latex gloves
Make your sand or soil pile. You’ll need the pile large enough to rest your leaf over it with a little running past leaf edges. Smooth to make a dome. This is so the leaf forms a bowl to hold water. Cover the pile with plastic so the concrete won’t stick.
Leaf time: Lay the leaf face down over the pile. Make sure stem is trimmed close to the leaf bottom. If there are any holes in the leaf, just cover with a piece from another leaf. If the stem is thick or bulky, you may need to take a hammer and break it down a little to lay flat.
Mix the concrete: Pour the dry concrete mix into the bucket or tray. Slowly add the water to the bucket until the consistency of brownie batter. Thick enough to stay put on the leaf but not too thick to spread. For a large rhubarb leaf, it takes about ¾ of a 40# bag of vinyl patch concrete.
Spread the concrete: Scoop some concrete onto the center of the leaf and work outwards toward the edges. Try keeping it even. Be generous on any big leaf veins. Try to keep it around ¾ inch thick in the middle and ¼ thick at the edges. You can use a pencil to test the depth.
Once the leaf is completely covered, top it with plastic wrap. If it is hot outside, place a moist towel or burlap over it to help it dry evenly. It generally takes about 48 hours to be ready to handle.
When the leaf has dried, but before it has cured, very carefully turn it over paying attention to the edges as they can break off very easily. Now the plastic wrap can come off along with the leaf. It should come out pretty easy but if not, you can use the scrub brush. Any pieces that remain will dry up and can then be brushed off. The birdbath will still need to cure for about another week. Keep it dry till then.
If you choose to not paint your leaf make sure you use an environmentally safe sealer. If you choose to paint it first, mix 3 drops of acrylic paint to 2 cups of water for a thin wash and paint it in thin layers. This project was adapted from gardengatemagazine.com.