Concrete Crafts forum: My cement leaf tutorial

 
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Imagegoldfinch4
Mar 22, 2010 7:31 AM CST
Name: Chris
Wisconsin z4
PROCESS TO MAKE A CEMENT LEAF

I use a cement product called Quikwall. Most home improvement stores sell it. Here is a link showing it:

http://www.quikrete.com/ProductLines/QuickwallSurfaceBonding...

I like it better for leaves than regular Portland cement because it gives you a smoother leaf, you don’t have to add anything except water, and it’s easy to work with.

ALWAYS wear gloves, goggles and a dust mask and work in a well-ventilated area. I use a large plastic bowl to mix the cement in. Start with a smaller leaf like a hosta and work up to larges ones.

Before mixing Quickwall get everything ready. The first thing is to put a big pile of damp sand on a surface big enough to hold the leaf. Shape the sand with your hands into a leaf shape. This will be the basic shape of the finished leaf. I usually put the damp sand on a board and just lay the leaf on it to see about what size and shape to make it. Cover the sand with plastic so the cement doesn’t get full of sand. Dry cleaning bags work great. If you use something with writing, be sure the writing is not on the side that the cement will be on as it can show up on the leaf. At this point you also want to wet and roll up some sheets of newspaper to use to form the leaf later in the process (see picture #3.)


(Form wet sand pile into leaf shape)

Thumbnail by goldfinch4

[Last edited Mar 22, 2010 7:32 AM CST]
Quote | Post #138091 (1)
Imagegoldfinch4
Mar 22, 2010 7:33 AM CST
Name: Chris
Wisconsin z4
Take the leaf and spray the back of it with a light coat of cooking spray. This helps release it from the cement. With a paper towel, wipe off as much as you can, making sure there are no bubbles of oil on the leaf because that will make bubbles in the cement. You actually put the cement on the back of the leaf because it picks up the vein details that way.

(Leaf ready to spray with cooking oil)

Thumbnail by goldfinch4

Imagegoldfinch4
Mar 22, 2010 7:34 AM CST
Name: Chris
Wisconsin z4
Place leaf, face down, on sand pile. Place wet newspaper under edges to form ruffles. You may have to do this as you add the cement because they tend to slip out from underneath.

Thumbnail by goldfinch4

Imagegoldfinch4
Mar 22, 2010 7:35 AM CST
Name: Chris
Wisconsin z4
Now you mix up the Qwikwall. Slowly add water to make it about the consistency of toothpaste. Stir slowly so you get as few bubbles in the Quikwall as possible. After I get it mixed up I “bounce” the bowl of Qwikwall on the floor a few times to release air bubbles.

I take a handful of Quikwall and make a patty out of it, then place it on the leaf and smooth out. Keep adding patties til you’ve covered the leaf. I always start at the center and kind of “pat” the cement down on the leaf. That removes air bubbles and gets the cement into all the veins. Be sure to smooth the patties together so there are no visible lines between them. Put a thicker layer over the stem end and be sure all the veins are covered well with cement. I don’t mix up too big of a batch at one time because it gets too hard to work with decently before you get done with a large leaf. I prefer several smaller batches.

If making a really big leaf (say more than 12” across) I do it a little differently. First I put on a thin layer (1/4” or so) of cement, then put some dry wall tape criss-cross on the back of the leaf. This adds a lot of strength to it. Then I cover with more cement. (Here is a link to the tape. I use a different brand though, whatever I can get locally. http://www.duratape.com/fiberglass.php)

(Picture of leaf covered with Qwikwall)

Thumbnail by goldfinch4

Imagegoldfinch4
Mar 22, 2010 7:36 AM CST
Name: Chris
Wisconsin z4
Cover with plastic and let sit for 24 hours. Be sure it’s in the shade, not in the sun.

Thumbnail by goldfinch4

Imagegoldfinch4
Mar 22, 2010 7:37 AM CST
Name: Chris
Wisconsin z4
After 24 hours, very carefully turn the leaf over. Don’t grab the sides as they will break. Slide one hand under the center of the leaf and turn over that way. It’s very fragile at this point. I place it right back on the pile of sand to cushion and protect it. It will look like this:

Thumbnail by goldfinch4

Imagegoldfinch4
Mar 22, 2010 7:45 AM CST
Name: Chris
Wisconsin z4
Pull off as much of the real leaf as you can with your hands. It usually sticks in the vein area. When I get to a point that looks similar to this I start using tools to get the rest off.

Thumbnail by goldfinch4

Imagegoldfinch4
Mar 22, 2010 7:45 AM CST
Name: Chris
Wisconsin z4
In the center of this picture you can see the metal “pick” I use the get the rest of the leaf out of the veins. Be very careful because the cement can chip and break easily yet!

Thumbnail by goldfinch4

Imagegoldfinch4
Mar 22, 2010 7:47 AM CST
Name: Chris
Wisconsin z4
Here is a picture after removing all of the leaf pieces.

After real leaf is removed, carefully place cement leaf in a large plastic garbage bag, spray with water and tightly seal the bag. Every day for the next 23 days it gets sprayed with water and re-wrapped. After 23 days submerse leaf in a water filled container. Let soak for five more days, changing water every day. Your leaf is now cured!

Thumbnail by goldfinch4

ImageRidesredmule
Mar 22, 2010 10:49 AM CST
Name: Charleen
Barnesville, Ga. Zone 7b-8
Walk in Peace / I'm Charley's Mom.
Golly, Girl!! That is great. I got to do it. Got two EE planted for leaves. You did a great job.
Hugs and thanks
Charleen
Imagegoldfinch4
Mar 22, 2010 11:05 AM CST
Name: Chris
Wisconsin z4
Thanks Charleen! They're fun to do and the EE will work great. I'll be looking forward to pictures of yours!
ImageRidesredmule
Mar 22, 2010 11:26 AM CST
Name: Charleen
Barnesville, Ga. Zone 7b-8
Walk in Peace / I'm Charley's Mom.
I may turn into a leaf kleptomaniac Rolling on the floor laughing
if people start turning up with no leafs on their EE, you'll know who did it, won't you?? Rolling on the floor laughing
Imagegoldfinch4
Mar 22, 2010 12:37 PM CST
Name: Chris
Wisconsin z4
LOL - I'd love to see that!! Hilarious!

I don't have any rhubarb plants, but it seems like everybody I know brings me rhubarb leaves. Other people get bouquets of flowers, I get bouquets of rhubarb leaves. And its great!
ImageRidesredmule
Mar 22, 2010 1:27 PM CST
Name: Charleen
Barnesville, Ga. Zone 7b-8
Walk in Peace / I'm Charley's Mom.
At least they don't have the stalks, then you'd have to make Rhubarb pie.
Man, it's been years since I tasted rhubarb. Many moons ago when I still lived in Missouri with my Mom and Dad.
Imageazreno
Mar 23, 2010 5:51 AM CST
Name: Lynn Reno
Mesa, AZ
Purple Rocks!
That finished leaf really is absolutely gorgeous, and you make it look so simple. I may have to make one, too! Thanks so much for sharing this :)
Imagegoldfinch4
Mar 23, 2010 7:09 AM CST
Name: Chris
Wisconsin z4
I love eating rhubarb. I always plan on planting some but never get around to it. One of these years.........

Thanks Lynn. It really isn't hard - just takes time. After seeing all your beautiful projects this one will be a breeze for you! I've probably made 100 various leaves over the years.
Imageazreno
Mar 23, 2010 7:52 AM CST
Name: Lynn Reno
Mesa, AZ
Purple Rocks!
Wow, 100? that's why it looks so easy!
ImageRidesredmule
Mar 23, 2010 8:07 AM CST
Name: Charleen
Barnesville, Ga. Zone 7b-8
Walk in Peace / I'm Charley's Mom.
That's a lot of leaves. what did you do with them?? give them away? I've done that. Or you would have so many you'd be buried in crafts.
Imagegoldfinch4
Mar 23, 2010 9:01 AM CST
Name: Chris
Wisconsin z4
I sell them, give them as gifts, I've donated some to fundraiser auctions, etc. That's the hard part about getting carried away with cement stuff - you could end up getting buried in a hurry!

Imageazreno
Mar 23, 2010 9:17 AM CST
Name: Lynn Reno
Mesa, AZ
Purple Rocks!
Hey y'all, here are Chris' photos of the leaves!

http://home-and-garden.webshots.com/album/559571435riVBFH?st...

they are awesome!

Chris, if you have a website where you sell these and other things, you should add that to the database, you can also advertise in the marketplace....nothing wrong with a little exposure :)

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