Making a concrete leaf


Rhubarb leaf

I started making concrete leaves by following instructions I found on the internet, but the best tricks I learned were from Portland artist Roberta Palmer. Her leaves were for sale at the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon sale, held in April each year at the Portland Expo Center. She had a signup sheet for workshops at her booth: she does leaf casting and leaf painting workshops. I learned many important things, but the most critical one was: STAY AWAY FROM THE EDGES OF THE LEAF; she stops the concrete a 1/2″ or more from the edge of the leaf, so the concrete mix doesn’t ooze over the edge and make a big mess. You get a nice clean edge that you don’t have to mess with; once the concrete leaks, it’s almost impossible to clean up.

Roberta Palmer, leaf artist extraordinaire

Roberta Palmer, leaf artist extraordinaire

I also took one of her leaf painting classes, but have never approached the subtle, magical look of her leaves. She’s a master of dry brush painting and blending colors, and her painted Gunnera leaves are stunning. For painting my leaves (see above) I use Rustoleum Exterior spray paint for the base coat, then Behr Exterior Paints for subsequent coats. You can get 8 oz. sample jars of Behr Exterior paint in custom colorsĀ for $4 from Home Depot or Lowes.

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