skip to Main Content

I like competition and especially winning! This was my entry to the Quikcrete-1-Bag-Wonder Contest. ‘Take a bag of concrete and create something unique. Well, I’d say I should have won, but I guess ‘beer’ won out. I’ll get over it eventually as I can now enjoy my unique creation in my garden (which incidentally won a Trillium Garden award). You too can join the fun and make your own DIY Gigantic Concrete Leaf Orb.

The Concrete Mix:

As you know I love to use Rapidset Cementall but since it was a Quikcrete contest I needed to use their product; Fastset All-crete. (may be under a different name in the US) I know it can get confusing when choosing a mix so I’ve made a post here to help you.

Once you have used fast setting mixes it’s hard to go back… I know.

The Mold Material:

It’s old news that many use Rhubarb as a way to cast nice detailed leaves. I don’t have enough production of Rhubarb so I was looking for an alternative and came across one at the grocery store! ‘Artist brain’ is always looking at things in a different way. I’m the only ‘crazy’ looking at food for it’s great textural value.

Savoy Cabbage is perfect! It has such great pronounced texture and it is quite sturdy so it lasts well.

The Process:

Get Ready:

Gather your supplies

  • large inflatable form (24″ beach ball worked well)
  • bucket or bowl to stabilize the ball
  • Gloves and concrete dust rated mask
  • FastSet All-Crete
  • Fibreglass drywall Mesh
  • Mixing Vessel, spoon & water
  • Savoy Cabbage leaves
  • scissors

Step 1:

Blow up the ball and set it in an appropriate container that will keep it from rolling or toppling.

Mix up only small batches as this will set quite quickly. I use a container that is about 500ml (yoghurt). If you let it sit for about 30 seconds it stiffens nicely to make applying easier. Aim for a consistency that is quite pliable and plastic-like. You will get the hang of the consistency after a couple mixes, don’t worry.

The Forming:

To ensure strength it is key to have good over lap of the shapes and reinforcement material. The first layer is thin leaf shapes that join allowing the mesh strips to be layered over.

Make sure that you have good connection to the shapes. I work form the top middle outward.

Since the Cabbage leaves are quite large they will probably need trimming to shapes that match roughy the size you intend to use on the orb. You can use larger if you like as they tend to have some curvature as well. If they are too stiff, you could leave them to wilt a bit in the sun or zap in the microwave for a bit.

You are using the underside where the veins are. Put some mix on the shape replicating the size that you have on the orbs.

Quickly but gently ‘slap’ the leaf onto the one on the ball. Wriggle it to make good contact with the concrete. You can peek under to see how the shapes are joining and adjust if needed.

You can be fussy or more ‘rustic’ if you like The overall charm is the leaf textures anyways!

Around & around:

I work outward from the middle of the top and slightly rotate the ball to work outwards when it is hard enough. Keep the idea of gravity in mind. Do leave the valve opening accessible as well. The mesh also helps any shapes from sliding.

Since this mix sets so quickly I found that the leaves could easily be pulled off in a short time (will depend on your conditions like temperature etc) I even discovered that the cabbage leaves are so hardy that they will last through repeated use!

Wonderful Texture! If you have any concern that there are some weak spots where overlap did not occur that much you can add a leaf on top extra assurance. If it is really hot misting with water will help slow the curing a bit.

Do let the final shape cure well. I’d wait 24 hours to be sure. Open the valve and start to deflate the ball until it is small enough to pull out.

Any excess mesh can be cut or singed off with a mini torch as I did with these orbs.

The wonderful thing about these orbs is that they are light enough to carry! That one is about 25″ across and I can hold it no problem. It has such interesting shapes I’m hoping to install lights as well for great night lighting effects.

As a garden designer I believe that the ornaments should look natural in the garden not ‘kitschy’. That’s why the leaves work so great. They also echo the stepping stones that I have a ‘million’ of!

I am so delighted with this orb, I think it’s my favourite of all the orbs (but who knows) And I keep getting bigger! Bring on the exercise ball…

Garden delight… and wait til the snow in winter. Thanks for joining me in my garden and my concrete obsession! Go beautify your space!

barbmaker

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

This Post Has 30 Comments
  1. This looks SO cool! Thanks for sharing and the great photos! I can see how this could become additive! I will bet that next you can make something even bigger -a leaf house-maybe using chicken wire (?) Love your creative brain! And of course I am sharing 🙂

  2. nice to see your smiling face – love that these aren’t too heavy to carry around to different locations and how they add another texture along with your other ones in the garden!

    1. No, don’t wait til dry. It will set slightly but add second layer as soon as you can. I’ll edit. If you are a bit nervous for this as a first concrete project you may try these stepping stones first. Or read the Tips and Tricks postMy smaller version may also be a good start.

      I hate it when things don’t work so if I have doubt I do tiny tests. Cast a couple leaves and weight an hour to see how they worked out and how strong they are… Have fun!

  3. Absolutely love your Artist Eye, and Thinker. One of these days I will make the time to play with concrete and thanks to you there is a growing list of projects to attempt. Thank you for your courage to experiment and your generosity to share your discoveries and processes.

    1. Oh ya, I have the courage to try all kinds of things! I learnt that from a fabulous mother who always said if you put your mind to it you CAN do it. Children absorb what they see so I see the drive in my daughter too! Cheers!

  4. I’m not sure I understand the mesh. Is it put on the underside of each leaf shape,? Is it put on the top of each shape and pressed into the concrete by the Savoy leaf? Or??? This is a beautiful project—you are, indeed, an artist.

    1. The mesh is imbedded by being applied above the first layer and then the second layer with the leaf is applied on top. Try to aim for about 3/8″ or so thickness. You could go thicker for assurance it will just add some weight. Have fun!

  5. Beautiful! I am in awe of the way your mind works. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas.

  6. I love you……and your work!!! So inspirational to me……..I too love the sphere and your ideas really motivate to “branch ( leaf didn’t work:)) out on trying.
    Thank you so much for sharing your gift!!

  7. I can hardly wait to try this absolutely wonderful idea.. My question is..
    . do you have to treat the beach ball in any way or does it just slip off because it is plastic? Thank you.

  8. I love everything that I see that you have made out of concrete. You should have won, the Leaf Orbs are so beautiful as is also the rest time
    Of your beautiful artwork. . So far my big projects have been good except when I remove the molds, they crumble. Last night I even cried over what I hoped to be the top of. A bird bath. I realize now it has been the wrong cement. Tonight I have fast setting cement, not sure it’s the same as yours and I hope to make some pots. Thanks so much for all the instructions and guidance. I’m not going to give up. I’m in Tennessee and will find the same cement eventually. I love your artworks, it is a huge inspiration to me. Thanks again. Jance

    1. Thanks! I know that the RapidSet Cementall is made in the US so you may find it. I use the Quikrete Sand Topping mix for my Stepping stones and have made a curved version to use as a birdbath. It will need a good 24 hours of warm weather to unmold. If not set wait longer and do keep it hydrated. See here for some mix options. I do read the specs on the multiple concrete mixes and check for recommended thickness and use. I’m pretty sure each manufacturer has a similar product for all the uses. Happy Concreting!

  9. Thank you ever so much for your inspirational, creative and brilliant ideas. Your posts are not to long. I think they are considerate and generous.

    1. I think I just added the concrete since there was already a criss-cross of the mesh. When in doubt you can layer in a mesh. All my quick set sculptures have held up really well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Click to Hide Advanced Floating Content

Support my Blog!

In order for me to deliver valuable content for free, it takes both time and money. Any donations will be used directly to bring you new and useful content!

Donation Form

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $5.00

Back To Top