I posted about making cast concrete leaves this summer here, and since then I've been back to Roberta Palmer's backyard classroom to make more. Once you've taken a class, she lets you work on your own, making as many castings as you can fit in your three big cardboard take-home boxes.
I made 9 more, to add to the three that I already had. My crazy friend Chris went with me, for her third visit, so I think her grand total was 20 leaves! We both wanted to make plenty, both for ourselves and to give as Christmas gifts. So the leaf count between the two of us is up to 32. Okay, Chris decided to take Roberta's painting class, taking several leaves she'd already made and cured, to learn Roberta's techniques of masterfully painting with exterior latex paints, dry-brushing, staining, and finishing. Roberta is quite a perfectionist, and the beautiful leaves she sells at many markets and shows around Portland are only her very best---resulting in 'rejects' that she literally throws away. Seeing Chris's enthusiasm and growing 'collection', she offered all FIFTEEN of her 'seconds' to Chris for free! Chris brought them all over to my house, we looked them over, and said "How can these be REJECTS?? They are better than the ones we've made!!". Now the total count between us is 47 LEAVES! (Obsessed much??)
|The leaves starting to pile up on my kitchen table...|
|...and my kitchen island. Boxes-full are out out of camera range.|
Chris showed me the paint techniques she'd learned; I tried to follow, but just ended up doing my own thing and winging it. I had many pots of latex paints left over from a mural project I did at my daughter's school, plus lots of acrylic craft paints, so we just plunged in and started painting. Here are a few of the ones we've finished...I think we did almost twenty over two evenings! Some we loved, some were a little funky, some we'll keep working on until we like them. Here's what we've got so far:
|There are bowl shapes, flat trivets, ones with a copper coupling to display later on a copper pipe, others with wire embedded for hanging.|
|These get several coats of outdoor sealant to help them withstand the elements.|
It's really a lot of fun painting them. The trick is to add subtle dry-brushing of a color over a dried color to blend it all, and that easy technique makes them come alive.
As much as I love the painted ones, I still like the look of those left in their natural concrete state. Here are the first three I made, in my backyard (so many fall leaves fell in the past couple of days--it's a little messy out there right now...):
|The rhubarb leaf on the right always fills with water and makes a sweet small birdbath.|
I think we are done making any new leaves (ya think??), and will concentrate on painting the remaining ones. We have our annual Holiday Boutique in November at Chris's house, and will have a few for sale there, but mostly they'll be gifts and 'keepers'.
|My dear goof-ball Chris with our 'mini masterpieces'!|