Re-post: Concrete leaf casting

7 08 2014

Originally posted July 2008.

This is my fourth most-visited post of all time with 21,984 visits on this blog and the second most-visited post on my gardening-only blog (www.gardenmuse.wordpress.com) with 47,834 visits. That’s a total of 69,818 visits for this one craft project!

My friend 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. We have used Portland cement type 1 for our earlier creations, but then started making them with Quikrete instead. Several artists recommend using vinyl patch instead because it’s stronger, lighter in weight and picks up more detail from the leaf texture and veining. It’s also more resistant to flaking and cracking associated with traditional cement mixtures. The next batch I make will be with the vinyl patch product!

This site here has step-by-step instructions (plus a youtube video). The steps are the same no matter which product you’re using.

Click here for Craig Cramer’s blog posting, “The Secret to Great Leaf Casts.” He recommends using Quikrete. Click here for another site with an extensive gallery for inspiration. David, the artist, recommends waiting 30 days before painting your creations. (I’ve never waited that long—don’t know if I would have the patience!) He mixes Quikrete with his concrete mixture, but I’m not sure what the ratio is. At the very least, his photo gallery will endlessly inspire you!

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 the leaf is, 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  suggest using powdered pigments to color your concrete before creating the leaves. Read more about their approach with hosta leaves here. They have created some really beautiful (and large!) ones using Gunnera leaves, which grow well in the Pacific Northwest.

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 Pearl Ex pigments from Michael’s or A.C. Moore. 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 (and end up using our fingers) to rub in the pigments, which are very concentrated and go a long way. We find it best to paint the leaf with black acrylic craft paint in order for the metallic pigments to be intense in color when they are applied.

The metallic pigments are stunning and you can get a variegated look using various colors! If you try this style, you’ll need to seal the front of your leaf with an outdoor spray sealant to keep the pigment from rubbing off. I seal the front of the leaves with Krylon’s Make It Last!® Sealer, which has a satin finish and dries (for handling) within two hours.

Don’t expect the colors 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. Remember to seal after every repainting. Even 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.

If you want a solid colored metallic leaf, you can use inexpensive acrylic craft paint instead of the powdered pigments. First, paint the front and back of the leaf solid black (the leaf is porous so it will soak in the black) and then paint the entire front with your colored metallic acrylic paint. After everything is thoroughly dry, seal the front of the leaf with the Krylon Sealer.

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

Whichever method you decide to try (Portland cement type 1, Quikrete, Quikrete + vinyl patch, vinyl patch only), I’d love to see your results and will share them on this blog!

Note to those of you who want to try it and live near me—if you buy the materials and lug them into your yard, I’m happy to come over and instruct! 

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Leaf casting workshop in the works!

21 08 2013

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE BELOW?

My friend, Rob Bergsohn, and I are planning a fee-based workshop on making these leaf castings in September.

Rob runs the Northern Virginia Portrait Photographers group on http://www.meetup.com. He hosts portrait photography workshops outdoors and in the studio as well as 2-4 hour Lightroom and Photoshop classes from his home studio in Falls Church, Virginia. Rob saw my botanical photography exhibit at Green Spring Gardens in spring 2012 and asked if I would host some workshops with him.

We’re planning the workshop for sometime in September and the dates will be slated for weekend days to allow more participants to join. There will be two dates involved—one date to make the leaves (I’m guessing that session will be about 2-3 hours long) and another date for participants to return (after their leaves have cured) to paint and finish their creations.

If you’re in the D.C./Virginia/Maryland area and think you might be interested in signing up, please e-mail me at dyerdesign@aol.com to get on our email list. When we finalize the dates cost and details, we’ll send out a notice to you. We’ll include a link so you can pay via PayPal on Rob’s Meetup group site.

FYI—if you’re interested in learning Lightroom, check out Rob’s workshops. I took his basic Lightroom class a few weeks ago and learned a lot—for just $25 for a couple of hours of instruction. It’s an excellent value! He offers other studio classes on lighting and composition, so check out his meetup group page here: http://www.meetup.com/NOVAPhotography/  It’s a great bunch of photography-minded people and Rob is always adding new classes on a variety of topics relating to photography. You’ll need to sign up for a FREE meetup.com account before enrolling.

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© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Re-post: Leaf casting

17 04 2013

Updated 8.04.2011. Originally posted July 2008. This is one of my top visited posts of all time with 17,948 visits on this blog and 32,476 visit on my gardening-only blog!

My friend 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. We have used Portland cement type 1 for our earlier creations, but then started making them with Quikrete instead. Several artists recommend using vinyl patch instead because it’s stronger, lighter in weight and picks up more detail from the leaf texture and veining. It’s also more resistant to flaking and cracking associated with traditional cement mixtures. The next batch I make will be with the vinyl patch product!

This site here has step-by-step instructions (plus a youtube video). The steps are the same no matter which product you’re using.

Click here for Craig Cramer’s blog posting, “The Secret to Great Leaf Casts.” He recommends using Quikrete. Click here for another site with an extensive gallery for inspiration. David, the artist, recommends waiting 30 days before painting your creations. (I’ve never waited that long—don’t know if I would have the patience!) He mixes Quikrete with his concrete mixture, but I’m not sure what the ratio is. At the very least, his photo gallery will endlessly inspire you!

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 the leaf is, 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  suggest using powdered pigments to color your concrete before creating the leaves. Read more about their approach with hosta leaves here. They have created some really beautiful (and large!) ones using Gunnera leaves, which grow well in the Pacific Northwest.

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 Pearl Ex pigments from Michael’s or A.C. Moore. 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 (and end up using our fingers) to rub in the pigments, which are very concentrated and go a long way. We find it best to paint the leaf with black acrylic craft paint in order for the metallic pigments to be intense in color when they are applied.

The metallic pigments are stunning and you can get a variegated look using various colors! If you try this style, you’ll need to seal the front of your leaf with an outdoor spray sealant to keep the pigment from rubbing off. I seal the front of the leaves with Krylon’s Make It Last!® Sealer, which has a satin finish and dries (for handling) within two hours.

Don’t expect the colors 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. Remember to seal after every repainting. Even 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.

If you want a solid colored metallic leaf, you can use inexpensive acrylic craft paint instead of the powdered pigments. First, paint the front and back of the leaf solid black (the leaf is porous so it will soak in the black) and then paint the entire front with your colored metallic acrylic paint. After everything is thoroughly dry, seal the front of the leaf with the Krylon Sealer.

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

Whichever method you decide to try (Portland cement type 1, Quikrete, Quikrete + vinyl patch, vinyl patch only), I’d love to see your results and will share them on this blog!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Garden Club Craft Night, 1.8.2007

17 12 2011

I’ve been a bit of a slacker as the Head Weed of my garden club for the past couple of years, for which I apologize profusely to my Weedettes. I came across this fun project where everyone painted garden signs on little strips of wood that Michael prepared for us. I printed out phrases that the Weedettes transferred with carbon paper and then painted with regular acrylic craft paint. Michael had pre-drilled holes at the top and bottom of each plank so that we could string them together with rusty craft wire. We enjoyed the wintertime craft nights so much that Karen suggested we switch it to a craft club instead. Other crafts we did included cement leaf casting, making topiaries, garden photography, sculpey clay jewelry, mosaic mirrors, floral acrylic painting on canvas and floral pins made from felted wool sweaters. Come to think of it, I do miss hosting these creative get-togethers. I’ll make a concerted effort to organize some events in 2012.

I prepared this collage and sent it out later that night as a recap of the event. Looks like a bunch of happy crafters, don’t they?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





100,000 hits!

4 10 2009

I was checking my blog stats and discovered that my busiest day ever was Wednesday, May 6, 2009, with a total of 440 hits. And 46 of those were for my Cabbage White Butterfly camouflage posting—must have been a lot of curious bug spotters that day!

To celebrate this milestone of 100,000 hits, I offer the following:

1. Oddest word searches that brought visitors to my blog:

kids running to touch wood  (a good old-fashioned—and legal—way to pass time)
beard of bees  (no thank you)
daylilies bugs hug   (aww….)
zoo-dutch dog with 2 ladies (1)  (huh?)
waffle house dirty    (hate it when that happens)
polaroid skull     (!)
hermaphrodite plant ruin    (I dare not ask.)
I never saw a purple cow what does it mean    (We’ll probably never really know.)
baby robin dying? crying   (Yep, that would be me doing the crying.)
cool stuff for 20 bucks    (Where? Where????)
gluten free elephant ears    (Didn’t know you could eat them!)
And then there’s the SPAM that gets filtered…    (…and sometimes it doesn’t)
Above-board! Just looking for you highly priced!   (Lost in translation)
young illegal booty content    (Again, I dare not ask.)
what is the flower is blue with 4 pedals   (A flower with pedals? How mobile it could be!)
when the cactus dies my love for you die   (Easy fix. Just don’t overwater.)
can you get high from a magnolia bud    (What? Morning glory seeds didn’t do it for ya?)
i shot myself flower    (Again—what’s up with the violence + flower stuff?)
now, that’s more like it ebay    (eBay sucks for sellers)
things cost an arm a leg or a soul    (Never bought anything that cost my soul!)
puppy girls feet wall paper    (That sounds like an HGTV decorating disaster.)
pups don’t shed for sale   (would make a very good name for a rock band)
sequim booty    (Hmm….Sequim, Washington? Known for booty? Who woulda thunk?)
elephant foot yam butterflies moths   (okay, way too much going on in this search)
cialis cindy   (alright already…enough with the cialis and viagara, spammers!)
legged fish wiki   
20 bucks    (I’ll take it!)
puppy road    (Puppy road, take me home, to the place where I belong, West Virginia…)
duck herding women    (I knew animals would take over one day, I just knew it!)
away morning
bulletin board idea for peek a boo   
tiny little bugs in kitchen denver  
fairmont empress + “bed bugs” 
spring rose sex
very little girl!   

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2. Top 10 posts of all time on this blog (click on post name to view):

Concrete leaf casting: 4,094 viewers

Color Magic Rose: 2,017 viewers

Crafty room divider screen: 1,730 viewers

Stuff About Me: 1,602 viewers

Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth: 806 viewers

Heavenly blue: 704 viewers

Gigglebean with parrot and sugar glider: 661 viewers

Spotlight on Abbie!: 626 viewers

Mina Lobata (Spanish Flag): 576 viewers

Monarch butterfly habitat poster: 536 viewers

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3. Top 10 referrers:

my2008blog.wordpress.com: 421 referrals  (Thanks, Birgitte!)

contradica.blogspot.com: 265 referrals  (Thanks, Abbie!)

penick.net/digging: 181 referrals  (Thanks, Pam!)

phillipoliver.blogspot.com: 178 referrals  (Thanks, Phillip!)

auntdebbisgarden.blogspot.com: 128 referrals  (Thanks, Debbi!)

mommymirandamusings.blogspot.com: 107 referrals  (Thanks, Heather!)

moresecretwhispers.wordpress.com: 99 referrals  (Thanks, Chloe!)

www.fotoblography.com: 87 referrals  (Thanks, Andy!)

www.outerchat.com: 86 referrals  (Thanks, Senthill!)

www.stphoto.wordpress.com: 62 referrals  (Thanks, Scott!)

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4. Top 10 links that visitors went to from my blog:

Concrete garden leaves: 1,196 clicks

Color Magic Rose photo: 698 clicks

Martha Stewart’s website: 654 clicks

Making a leaf casting: 641 clicks

Little and Lewis (concrete casting artists): 472 clicks

Jacquard Products (again, concrete casting related link!): 408 clicks

Ellis Hollow Blog (yet another concrete leaf cast related link): 213 clicks

My “Punch O Color” photo collage: 203 clicks

Photo collage of my garden club doing concrete casting: 200 clicks

PDF download of Abbie Cranmer’s feature article in Hearing Loss Magazine: 196 clicks

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I’ve been remiss in posting as often as I normally do. Work and other commitments called and something had to be set aside. To my regular and most loyal visitors, I offer a plea for leniency (and patience). I’ll be back soon with a plethora of postings, I promise! (In fact, I see that my white Japanese anemones have begun to bloom in the front yard…might they be my next subject?)





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.