How to cast leaves in concrete

We promise you'll be inspired by this video, in which Annette Shrader of Volunteer Gardener visits Donna Priester, an award-winning crafter/gardener who turns big, bold, elephant ear leaves into bigger, bolder works of art. If you have elephant ear plants (Colocasia) in your garden, or any plants with large, interesting leaves, you can create your own spectacular leaf cast.
An interesting note for gardeners: It isn't difficult to figure out how Colocasia plants earned their descriptive name. The huge, arrowhead-shaped leaves look much like -- you guessed it -- elephant ears! According to Fine Gardening, this perennial beauty, also known as taro, is native to the moist, swampy areas of tropical Asia.
Choose a leaf with deep, visibly defined veins. (Don't worry about the color and don't fixate on perfection.) Once you've settled on the just-right leaf, pour a mound of sand on a large tray or baking sheet. Make the mound larger than the leaf. To add interest, form the mound of sand to match the natural shape of the leaf -- typically with the mound thicker in the middle. 
Now the fun begins! Add dry vinyl concrete patch to water a little at a time, mixing as you pour, until the concrete is the consistency of thick brownie mix (or mud pie!). Add concrete mix a little at a time if the mixture is too sloppy, then smooth out lumps with your gloved hands. (By the way, concrete mix is available in a variety of colors.) 
Cover the leaf with plastic wrap -- the regular kind in your kitchen. Mound concrete in the center of the leaf, then smooth it carefully to the outer edges of the leaf, adding more concrete as needed. 
Let the mixture dry for a couple of days, then flip the leaf and carefully peel away the plastic wrap with one hand while you support the leaf with your other hand. At this point, you can use a wire brush to carefully shape the edges of the leaves and smooth out any snags or rough spots.
It's easy to tint the leaf once it has cured, although it certainly isn't required. If you like a little leafy color, simply mix a color wash consisting of three drops of acrylic paint to 2 cups of water, then brush the wash over the leaf.  You can even layer two or three colors for a leaf cast that looks almost real! (Annette at Volunteer Gardener provides all the specifics you need to complete this project.)
Do you have a bunch of friends who will simply love this project? Go right ahead and SHARE!
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