Concrete leaf casting

29 05 2008

Debbi and I have been making these concrete leaf castings for several years now, and my Garden Club members have also tried their hand at it. There are many sites that show how to make them. This one has step-by-step instructions with photos.

Since most of the leaves we create are smaller, we don’t often do the chicken wire reinforcement. Larger elephant ears do require a bit of reinforcement, though, and we have made some of those (the larger they are, the more likely you’ll need two people to move it when it’s dry!). Most of the ones we have done are made with leaves from hostas, pokeweed, grape leaves, caladium leaves, and smaller elephant ears. Leaves that have nice, deep veins work best. If you want to hang your leaf on a fence or wall, insert a curved piece of clothes hanger or thick wire (formed into a loop) into the back before the leaf is cured.

Artists Little and Lewis (http://www.littleandlewis.com/) suggest using powdered pigments to color your concrete before creating the leaves. Read more about their approach by going to www.marthastewart.com . Do a search for “concrete leaf casting” to find the segment where Little & Lewis discuss leaf casting and list supplies.

We haven’t tried the “color-in-the-concrete” approach yet. We do ours in the natural color and then paint after curing is done. Our favorite style is to paint the front and back with black acrylic paint, then rub on powdered metallic powdered pigments (the type often used in Sculpey jewelry projects). We used the Pearl Ex powdered pigment series, and we find silver, gold, bronze, blues, greens, and purples work much better than the pastel colors. We only apply the additional coloring and metallic powder to the front. The back remains black only.

Check out Pearl Ex pigments on the Jacquard Products website.

I buy my pigments from Michael’s or A.C. Moore Craft Store. They sell them in sets of 12 different colors, or you can buy a larger bottle of one color. It doesn’t take much to cover the leaf. We use a soft cloth to rub in the pigments, which are very concentrated and go a long way. It is necessary to paint the leaf black (or a dark brown) in order for the metallic pigments to be intense in color.

If you try this style, you’ll need to seal your leaf with an outdoor spray sealant to keep the pigment from rubbing off. The metallic pigments are stunning! Don’t expect them to hold up 100% in direct sunlight over a few years, though. The paint will chip a little but you can always paint over it and do it again to freshen it up. They still look good chipped and faded, though…sort of a shabby chic, relic-look! And you can try a new color scheme the next time around. If you hang or display yours indoors, you’ll still need to seal the pieces so they can be handled. And they certainly won’t fade as soon if they’re used as indoor art.

Here’s another posting I found that lists supplies, steps, and shows leaves painted with acrylic or latex paint.

http://www.garden.org/regional/report/arch/inmygarden/2527

The good news: supplies for this project are CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP and the results are incredible! The downside? Those bags of cement/quickrete, etc. are HEAVY!

UPDATE: Thanks to Kim, a fellow garden blogger, for this link to Craig Cramer’s blog, “Ellis Hollow.” Check out his advice here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Then on to craft project #823

25 05 2008

Okay, I’m not really keeping track of how many craft projects I’ve done in my lifetime. This is my latest one for the garden—a “bell” tower wind chime, of sorts. You can get all of the supplies from your local craft store.

Step 1: Using cheap craft paint, I painted each miniature pot a different color. I recommend sealing the pots after painting with a spray on or brush on outdoor sealant to keep the paint from peeling or fading too soon. I haven’t sealed these yet.

Step 2: I measured out how long I wanted my tower/chime and cut a piece of rusty wire to fit. I threaded the wire through a rusty implement that had broken off an old wind chime (it’s a garden tool), thus forming the foundation or bottom of my bell tower.

Step 3: I threaded cheap multi-colored beads (from my brief jewelry-making phase) onto thick, flexible craft wire, followed by the first pot. I arranged them by color, grouping dark to light and warm to cool. I added more beads, then the next pot, and so on. I used the less colorful beads in the area inside each pot because those beads wouldn’t be visible. The prettiest beads were saved for the display area peeking out below each pot. Remember, if you’re using the thicker wire, you’ll need beads with larger openings for threading.

Step 4: When all the pots (I used eight in total) were threaded onto the wire, I finished off the top with a large loop. You can hang this on virtually anything: a trellis, from a tree branch, dangle from a shepherd’s hook, etc.

I also made simple “garden jewelry” (sans the little pots) with the same rusty craft wire, multi-colored beads, and another garden tool at the bottom. Both projects were cheap, easy, and fast to make—a great project for a garden club or summer project for kids.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





And now, back to those flowers…

25 05 2008

You should have known I wouldn’t stray too far away from the garden this time of the year, shouldn’t you?

Below: Rock Penstemon, Campanula ‘Wedding Bells’, Yellow Yarrow, Hot Pink Ice Plant, Rose Campion ‘Angel’s Blush’ (in bloom and foliage only photos), coral-colored geraniums, unknown Allium (I think), Lamb’s Ear and Johnny-Jump-ups, and a Niobe clematis in Regina’s garden.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos





Step away from the flowers…

25 05 2008

So I don’t completely overload my viewers with too many green things (what did you expect? I’m a gardener and we’re knee deep into the growing season right now!), I’ve prepared a few more images from the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) “Inside Politics 2008” fundraiser I attended a few weeks ago at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. (I do this to remind you all that I can and do shoot other subjects!)

To refresh your memory (in case you don’t recognize these prominent folks), the panel included journalist David Gregory (NBC News’ Chief White House Correspondent and host of MSNBC’s Race for the White House), David Brooks (author and columnist with The New York Times), Gwen Ifill (moderator and managing editor of Washington Week in Review , and senior correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS), and author and anchorman Bob Schieffer (CBS Chief Washington Correspondent and anchor and moderator of Face the Nation).

For more information about the panelists:

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/05/15/bladder-cancer-and-inside-politics-2008/

For more information about BCAN and bladder cancer, visit www.bcan.org.

Contrary to recent postings, I do find other subjects to shoot when I’m not being lured into the world of flowers!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Duh…more flowers, of course!

25 05 2008

Yesterday was so balmy/beautiful/blue-skied that Michael and I decided to hit Green Spring Gardens again to see if there were any (new) photographic opportunities. Here are my results from our hour+ adventure.

Check out Green Spring Gardens here: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/gsgp/

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos





See Spot do a trick!

24 05 2008

Spot, our “$500 free fish,” gets into the oddest positions (such as his “Look Ma, no hands” headstand shown here) to hunt for yummy algae in the tank. There’s nothing to show you scale or size, but he’s over a foot long now! In the background, you see my other 55 gallon tank with two 59 cent Wal-Mart goldfish—Calico Joe (almost 11″ long) and Dorrie (8+” long). (Do you know how hard it is to measure a moving goldfish?) They used to be in the backyard pond, but we brought them in for the winter a few years ago. I’ve long since bonded with them, so in my studio they will stay.

Learn why we call Spot our “$500 free fish” here:

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2007/12/07/the-500-free-fish/

Learn more about plecos here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plecostomus

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Debbi’s garden

24 05 2008

…a profusion of purple, a smattering of orange, a touch of white, a swaft of blue, and green everywhere. But overwhelmingly and undeniably red, red, red—her favorite color.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.