Are you in a need of easy concrete craft, but don’t know what to do? Or maybe you have a garden that could do with little extra decoration?
Whatever the reason is, here is a short tutorial on making concrete leaves. This kind of craft is easy to do and you can even do it with your kids if you want to teach them to do something with their hands.
Spring, summer, and fall provide a plethora of large leaves ideal for creating bowls made with cement. Rhubarb, hosta, and horseradish leaves have excellent veins and a strong leaf base that make excellent bowls or stepping stones.
The question arises on exactly how to make the bowls with concrete. The process is so simple even small children are capable of making a leaf bowl from concrete. It’s also possible to teach individuals of all ages how to make leaf bowls.
The process is simple but the time period needed for completing the bowl will take up to 4 weeks with complete curing.
Necessary Items and Equipment
- Plastic or large trash bag
- Tube of sand
- Spray bottle with water
- Portland cement
- Silica sand/play sand
- Measuring cup
- Plastic mixing tub
- Vinyl or Latex gloves
- Acrylic paint
- Acrylic spray sealer
How to make DIY concrete leaf molds
Step 1: Cover a flat work surface with a sheet of plastic or a large trash bag. Pour a mound of tube sand approximately 2-feet wide and 1-foot tall. Spray the sand with water and mix. Moisten the entire mound of sand with water.
It’s like going to the beach in the summer and making a sand castles. It will be easy to use as a mold and it can hold its form well.
Step 2: Put on the latex or vinyl gloves. Pat the sand into the desired bowl shape. Remember the bowl is formed over the top of the mound. Create a rounded mound or flatten the mound to create a stepping stone.
If you want to make DIY concrete leaf stepping stones you can also use plywood and 2×2 wood to make a form for them. The flat plywood will be the upside with the leaf on it and you will circle it with 2×2 to the shape and size you wish your stepping stone to be. Just use screws to put it together and remember to screw it so that you can take it apart.
You can use cooking oil to to the surface of the form to make removing it easier. You should also remove the sides before it gets completely cured.
Step 3: Select a large rhubarb, hosta, or horseradish leaf. Cut the stem flush to the contour of the leaf. Turn the leaf over so the front side is down. Place the leaf over the top of the mound of sand.
Make your final adjustments to the shape of the sand mold. When you’re happy with how the concrete leaf will be you can move on.
Step 4: Remove all sand from the back side of the leaf. Dip the leaf in water if necessary and replace it on the mound of sand.
This way you don’t have any sand on the surface of the final product. Don’t worry if you do have little amounts, it will brush off when you remove the leaf, but less is always better. It’s also hard to get cement to stick to sand so if it is too much it will make the shaping of the leaf more troublesome than necessary.
Step 5: Pour 6 cups of silica or play sand and 2 cups of Portland cement in the plastic mixing tub. Add water a cup full at a time and mix. The consistency of the mixture should be like a mud pie with the least amount of water possible to make the mixture stick together.
The less water the cement has mixed in, the stronger it will be when it’s dry. Now, extremely strong cement isn’t what we’re after here and if it’s too rough to handle it will also be a negative result. When you can shape a ball on your hand and it will barely hold form, it should be OK.
Step 6: Make a mud pie between your hands approximately 1-inch thick. Place the mud pie on the center of the leaf. Pat into place. Repeat the process over the entire leaf. Shape the edge of the leaf to create the leaf contour.
When you add more mix on top of the leaf, pressure it together with the previously laid mix so the surface will be consistent. It’s like playing with playdough as a kid, that’s why this is good for kids as well.
Step 7: Allow the cement to dry for 48 hours. Carefully remove the concrete leaf from the mound of sand. Flip the finished leaf over.
Peal the green leaf from the surface of the concrete. Do not worry if some of the leaf sticks in the cracks.
The concrete leaf will continue to dry over the next few days and the green leaf will dry also. Use a small wire brush after two weeks to remove any green leaf still embedded in the bowl or stepping stone.
Step 8: Allow the concrete leaf to dry a total of 28 days. That’s the usual time for cement to reach it’s maximum strength. If you want, you can spray some water to it for 3 days, that will make it cure harder. Just don’t get it soaking wet, just moist surface is enough.
Apply the desired color or colors of acrylic paint to the leaf surface. Allow the paint to dry for a minimum of one hour. Spray three to five thin coats of acrylic spray sealer over the surface to seal.
Tips: When you’re painting concrete leaves you should know that acrylic paint will bubble and peel if the cement leaf is placed outside. It’s just not designed to handle that. The other options are concrete patio paints and other products like that that are meant to be used in outside conditions.
You should know now how to make concrete leaves. To take it one step further you can check how to mix acrylic paint with dry mix concrete over here. It will work in the same way with silica sand etc. 1/10 to 2/10 latex paint mixed with water will give the cement a slight beautiful color.
Another option is to use pigment powders to dye the concrete for stronger colors. I have to admit I personally like this more than painting the leaves as the concrete will have its original texture and it will be colored.
If you like this kind of project, check also the garden spheres here and concrete planters here. Both are easy projects that can be done over the weekend and you will have a custom decoration for your home and garden. For indoors, this plaster flower craft might do the trick.