Hypertufa Cast Leaves

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. NASTURTIUMS!
I so love them. They are prolific, sunny, edible, a living mulch. And I couldn’t live one summer without them!
So I immortalized my love for them by casting a few of their lovely leaves in hypertufa. Scroll through my step by step photos below for a jump on the how to.
Gather your leaves and cover your work area with plastic. I would avoid working in direct sunlight so your cast leaves don’t cure too quickly and possibly crack. mound damp sand in to the general size of your leaves and placed a leaf on each mound, bottom side up.
With a brush paint your leaves with oil. I used recycled machine oil but vegetable oil or even spray cooking oil works fine. The oil behaves like a resist so your casting medium releases.
Mix up equal amounts of fine milled peat moss, perlite, and Portland cement. I used a plastic 2lb. coffee container for measuring. You know, I completely forgot the perlite in my recipe but was satisfied how they turned out anyway. Love it when that happens!
I added enough water to make it the consistency of thick oatmeal. I added a little more to the batch as I was molding the leaves as the mixture tended to dry out a little as I worked on the leaves.
If you want to hang your finished creations you’ll need to insert a sturdy wire into the mixture while soft placing it near the stem. Small paper cups will keep them upright while curing.
2 to 3 days later un-mold your leaf and etch the imprinted veins a little more for definition if you feel it needs it. The edge of a putty knife works but I had a small pointed scribe handy and thought it worked great.
You can leave them natural or paint them like I did for weather durability. I chose a teal colored semi gloss exterior latex for the bottom coat. I thinned the paint with water so it wouldn’t hide the details. It dried fairly quickly and sealed the leaf.
Next I added touches of gold. I used an acrylic craft paint.
To give my leaves a weathered look I finished with a top coat of black semi gloss exterior latex thinned with water. I brushed it on and then came back with a wet soft cloth and wiped them until I revealed enough of the teal and gold to my liking.
There you have it! Love immortalized.

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