Tricks & Techniques For Leaf Casting Success
Yes, There ARE A Few Simple How-To Tricks That Will Help Make You Look Like You’re A Leaf Casting Pro!
You won’t find these mentioned on other “how-to” sites. I want to SHARE all the tips and tricks I’ve collected over the years that have WORKED for me when doing my garden art projects.
Smooth as Silk Concrete Formula for Leaf Casting
Smooth, very detailed leaves can be produced using QUIKRETE® Concrete Resurfacer. Mix as per manufacturer’s instructions. More about this product from the QUIKRETE® website:
” … a special blend of portland cement, sand, polymer modifiers and other additives, Concrete Resurfacer renews spalled, aged, dirty, stained and cracked concrete surfaces – indoors and outdoors. For a decorative finish, QUIKRETE® Concrete Resurfacer can be colored using QUIKRETE® Cement Color or Stucco and Mortar Color. One 50-pound bag will cover approximately 25 square feet at a 1/4″ thickness and no special curing or sealer is required.”
**NOTE: For the most informative stain and colorant information available on the web, click here: Concrete Stains & Hypertufa Colorant Guides
How to Achieve Rounded Edges
Nice smooth rounded edges on your leaf castings are preferable. Here’s a proven technique to achieve this result: place a “glob” of your concrete mixture onto the center of the leaf. Start to gently pat it TOWARDS the leaf’s edges. The mixture will start to spread. Continue patting. Pat JUST UP TO the edges and stop! This will produce a very nice rounded, finished looking edge.
Pinholes in Your Concrete?
Not to Worry. There Are Easy Solutions For This Oh-So Common Problem
Don’t worry about those pesky pinholes (or air holes) that seem to be inevitable. This situation happens to even the best of us. Here are some very simple and proven techniques to solve this problem:
- A quick fix solution that works: Mix a couple of tablespoons of “slurry” (a runny mixture of concrete and water). With your fingers, rub the slurry back and forth over the leaf casting to fill all the little holes. (Some people also wait about 20 minutes and then rub with a wet sponge to remove any excess slurry. This step may or may not be necessary for your project.)
- Keep rubbing in the slurry and after a few minutes you won’t even know where those bothersome holes were. Voila! Like magic they’re gone. This finishing technique makes the difference between a professional looking leaf casting and a homemade one.
- Make sure to mix your ingredients slowly and gently. Do not whip or stir your ingredients vigorously or you’ll incorporate air into the mix. Try using a folding-over motion (just like folding egg-whites into ingredients in a baking recipe).
- Use a 2-step leaf casting process (many people do): Mix a small amount of your recipe into a thin consistency — more watery than normal — and pour this onto the leaf’s surface, making sure it settles into all the nooks and crannies. Then follow it with your regular mix.
- Tap or “plunk” the mixing container down on the ground (or hard surface) a few times to help bring any air bubbles up to the surface.
- Gently “pat, pat, pat” your mixture onto the leaf. This helps release the air bubbles, too.
**Remember: ALWAYS WEAR YOUR GLOVES when handling concrete mixtures! Read why!! Click here: Concrete Safety Concerns
Is Your Leaf Stuck to The Concrete?
A Pesky Problem That Isn’t Uncommon
Many people experience the problem of not being able to get the “real” leaf to release from the curing concrete. For starters, try to remove the real leaf as soon as possible, anywhere from a couple hours after casting a small leaf; 24 to 48 hours for large leaves.
If any of the real leaf sticks, let the casting harden before you try to remove the remaining portions. Many concrete and hypertufa casters use sharp utensils like dental picks or sewing needles for this purpose. Anything that has a fine point will work. Stiff wire brushes are another option.
For more information on this topic, please visit this page: Guidelines to Successfully Cast Concrete Leaves