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As summer is soon coming to an end I am sad to think about losing all the ‘green’ in my lush garden. I appreciate nature and it’s wonders, especially up close. These ridiculously easy concrete Faux Fossil forest coasters use wondrous leaves and things you are sure to have! Mother nature is so very generous with her gifts…

To Cast the Coasters:

  • Large Leaves
  • RapidSet Cementall concrete or similar (and mixing container, water, spoon)
  • CD cases
  • Dust mask and ‘rubber’ gloves
  • flat surface/table

Step #1: Get your leaves ready

Go for a walk and look at the leaves. Be conscious of where you get them please. I look around the sides of the road etc. Look for leaves that have a size large enough to cover a circle of at least 3.5 inches (8cm) and a pronounced vein pattern on the back. Cut off the stems close to the leaf. The old grape vines seemed rampant and maple leaves also work well.

I am sure you have some old CD cases somewhere, so take them apart for the flat top and bottom pieces. Any other clear plastic sheet can work as well (prefer not glass)

Step #2: Mix the concrete

Suit up with mask and gloves… I have used this RapidSet Cement all for many projects and I am quite happy with how strong the finished product is. It sets really fast as well so make sure you re prepared. It is an all-in-one mix that only needs water added. This product has quite the plasticity and will seem a bit odd when mixing. It is recommended to add the water first, however I am a bit of a rule breaker! Be careful not to add too much water as it uses less than most mixes, work slowly and add a tiny bit at a time.You want a mix that will somewhat not run away. Waiting about 30 seconds also lets it just thicken a bit. You will see that it ‘flows’ at an even thicker consistency.

I use about 1.5 -2 tablespoons of mix for each coaster/leaf and make a few at a time. Be sure to put the leaf with the back/vein side up.

Once you have plopped a bit on each leaf, take a CD case and centre over top, and slowly squish it down. Wriggle it a bit and it will make quite a consistent round shape. Do not flatten too much, aim for about 3mm or so. Yes, I know that is thin, but this mix will be able to handle it. To rid of air bubbles I smack it lightly a couple times too.

Yup, that’s it! No mold needed! Just make sure your table surface is nice and flat. See, those childhood playtimes in the sand box come back to haunt you…

Voila! After about one hour go ahead and peel off the leaf. If you are careful you make even be able to reuse it! I marvel at how this concrete mix picks up each detail of the texture!

The edges are quite clean already however you can sand them a bit.

HINT: to make sanding easy and cheap, I make little ‘sanding discs’ when I have mix leftover. I just plop it onto a flat surface and let it set. Once cured it can be used like a sanding block, as it does have sand in it and does not rip like paper.

Step #3: Finishing the coasters

You will need:

To make the texture just ‘pop’ I use the typical method of antiquing. I have been using this method since the my days of glazing beer steins 30 years ago. (ya, I’m kinda old)

Mix a bit of a black acrylic paint with some water to make it quite runny and thin. Use a big brush to sop the entire coaster. You want it to get into all the grooves, and can be messy.

Before it dries, grab a rag and wipe off the surface paint. It will have absorbed a bit of colour to be darker but will now accent the veins.

For the ultimate effect add some dry-brushing with a metallic paint! It will amaze you. Make sure you only have a bit of paint on the brush, (wipe on towel) and then scrub across surface and it will come alive… trust me. It’s the best painting technique ever.

Amazed aren’t you?! (gold version here) I think a bag of concrete can make hundreds…

Add some felt backing for protection of the table tops. For extra protection you can also add a coating of acrylic medium in matt or gloss; whatever you prefer!

Imagine bringing some as a great hostess gift! They pair awesome with live edge tables as each is a unique shape. I can’t get enough of these since they are so crazy easy and quick… and love looking at the details.

You now deserve a drink of something sparkly… Good Job!

barbmaker

I’m an artist & I make things… all kinds of things.

This Post Has 17 Comments
  1. HI, BARb, thanks for posting such complete DIY… I want to make an ivy-leaf “spray” (cluster of leaves) to affix to my tall-tall-tall, bare bare bare block wall. At what point in the drying process can I shape the leaves so they aren’t flat?

    1. This mix is so quick that it can easily be manipulated and will stay put in a couple of minutes. I envision a framework of some wire to anchor the leaves together. Then you could perhaps just do a few leaves at a time and have the wire run through them. Then there is a bit of play afterward. I had made leaves out of copper sheeting and soldered them to wire in a similar idea. Sounds like it could be fun and beautiful! I’d love to see the finished one!

  2. love these!!

    do you spray anything on the cd case to keep it from pulling the concrete off? do you leave the case on there until it dries?

    1. Glad you like these! I have been making a batch every time I go by my concrete-table.

      The cool thing about concrete; especially this mix is that it does not stick to smooth plastic. It stays there until set (quite quick at 1 hour) and then just pops off quite cleanly. I just reuse them constantly.

      The only breakage I’ve had was from one that had a very thick middle leaf vein as then it was super thin there. Have fun! I am working on a post for some concreting tips and tricks…

  3. I’m silly excited about this project. I assume you just pop out the portion with the raised center that holds the cd? Also what are you sealing them with? Some sealants become opaque and cloudy when you get them wet. Do you find if you use reinforcing fibers you can see them in the finished product?

    1. Yes, just pop out the centre part so you have a good clear flat side. You could use anything that is flat and transparent. I use a clear matt or gloss acrylic medium. This concrete is very dense when cured, I have tested it with leaving water in a planter made of it and it did not even leach out. I did not add any fibres to reinforce as I have found that they are quite strong. You would treat them like glass or wood ones. The only time I broke one was when the centre vein was so deep it created a very weak middle line and I broke it when applying the force to sand it. They use so little mix you could do a test one to figure out how thick and strong it becomes for you.

      Good luck and let me know how it goes…

    1. Well, it’s a funny thing; when you ‘squish’ the concrete down with the CD case, it spreads to a ’roundish’ shape. It’s quite amazing! A thickness of about 4mm is pretty strong with this mix as long as the veins are not too thick and make a deep crevice. Try just one first till you get the hang of it. …

  4. Beautiful! This is inspiring me to try a concrete project for the first time. These would be great hostess gifts. Each of my children and siblings will probably be getting these for Christmas. Thanks!!

    1. I have made bowls like the stepping stones and used them to make birdbaths. I always like the texture on both sides. If you are ingenious you could use 2 leaves and have texture on both sides, sandwiched between 2 plastic bowls… Try it and let me know!

  5. Do you remove the CD case after using it to press down the cement or do you leave it on the full hour?
    I’ve made a bunch, but was always unsure about when to remove the plastic case. My first ones were too thin. I’ve almost mastered the thickness.. I also placed some too low on the leaf and the stems caused those areas to snap after drying, because they were thinner. So I suggest you get large leaves and aim for the upper portion of the leaf.
    I love my hydrangea & hosta leaves.
    Thanks for the great idea! I haven’t started the painting yet, I wanted to get the 32 I wanted done before I went to the next step!

    1. Yes, Leave the CD case til the concrete is set. It will just pop off easily and leave a shiny smooth surface. Some leaves do have a thick main vein, so I used grape leaves and maple leaves. If they are not that flat I press them a bit in a book first. I’m glad you are enjoying it. Amazing how many can be made…

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