As we know; one thing always leads to another… As is true here with this marriage of concrete bowl casting and relief casting. Don’t worry, it’s also super easy. You can use any kind of foliage that has a defined vein pattern or texture. Let mother nature do the work for you. Add some metallic paint for some bling and you have a perfect accent for the garden!
Along with the concrete mix and water, you will need some containers as your molds. I like my plastic ‘tupperware’ type and disposable yogurt ones. If they have a bit of flex, then it’s easier to get the concrete out of the bowl afterwards. I have not needed any release agent since these are quite smooth plastic, however you can use vaseline or cooking spray if you like. I like to use rhubarb leaves, but have used the large thistle weed leaves that are found readily at the side of the road as well.
Cut and lay the leaves in the sides of the bowl as flat as possible, veins toward the inside.
Mix the concrete until well incorporated and not too wet. If it is a large bowl you may want to add some fibers for reinforcement.
Smooth the concrete out along sides, making sure not to disturb the leaves against the wall. I keep the texture of the concrete a bit on the drier side so that it doesn’t become too wet as it is vibrated. It should hold some shape, but be pliable without crumbling.
Fill with concrete keeping in mind that there is the centre mold container. Wriggle it into the center mold and tap to let air bubbles rise. As you see here the concrete becomes smoother and seems more liquid since the water rises. The more you tap, the better, almost like burping a baby. Tap tap tap… Put some rocks or water in the middle container to keep it weighed down.
Let is sit, out of the sun til hardened, at least 12 hours. It pops out and the leaf will pull off quite easily, and the veins in the leaf may need a bit some aid of toothpicks to pull out the deep ones. There are some lovely textures that the leaf produces. If you would like you can sand the top edges of the rim (as I did here)…or not.
Good job! Time to paint!
To give the impression of a metal leaf, give the leaf section a coat of black acrylic paint. Any type of acrylic will work but there is paint specially made for outdoor applications.
Now, here comes the magic! I used a copper acrylic paint from Liquitex, which is quite metallic to accent the leaf. The procedure for highlighting is to use the dry-brush method. Get a bit of paint on the brush and rub off most on a paper towel or rag.
It will now only apply a bit of paint to only the ‘tops’ of the texture. It is really an easy method to accentuate any texture. You are now an artist! (really)
Looks impressive right?! Just a bit of dry-brushing, and voila! Think of the possibilities?! For extra protection you can clear coat with acrylic matt or gloss medium for exterior use if using outdoors.