1st cast leaf & question

laurastheme(8)August 14, 2010

Here is my first cast leaf made from a calla lily leaf. Now the question: I used quikrete cement & sand mix. Had no problem. Then I made 2 more from rhubarb leaves. I didn't cover them with plastic and about 6 hours later it began to rain during the night. I let them sit for 4 days before I tried to turn them. Both of them cracked immediatly so I didn't finish trying to turn them. Can the cracks be repaired? If so, what should I use? Mortar? Thinset? I hate to get rid of them if they can be repaired?

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Forgot the photo. Here it is.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 12:53PM
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laura...you cally lily leaf is beautiful! I haven't tried this so I don't have an answer for your cracked rhubarb ones...someone will tho! TFS this lovely pc! Jeanne S.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 3:06PM
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Marlene Kindred

Wow! I haven't ever tried these either, but one of our GJers will be able to help you. Your calla leaf is just beautiful! Great job!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 5:07PM
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sorie6(6b ok.)

I don't have an answer just wanted to say how pretty it is.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 5:38PM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

That's really pretty, I've seen some posted before so hope someone will be along to help soon.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 6:42PM
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I just made my first one today as well. I love how yours is so shiny and waxy looking. Did you already paint it? tint the cement? What is that beautiful finish?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 7:42PM
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ladycraft(6b MO)

I've used straight quickcrete for leaf cast and I've used portland and sand. The one you finished looks really good. I'm not sure on the cracks. Sometimes it's just the humidity. I've tried a couple things. One was a thin mixture of quickcrete and just tried to push it in the crack. Haven't really had great results in anything. I just tried some glue in a crack on an elephant ear that is 2 1/2 by 2. Thinking I could paint over it. Just checked it and it looks likje it will be ok. The grandkids have been wanting to paint a big leaf so they may get that one.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 8:26PM
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ohhhh!!! it's beautiful!!! how do you even go about doing such a thing?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2010 at 9:22PM
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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

I've made quite a few leaf castings and have had a few crack. The main problems are usually too thin a layer of concrete, trying to handle the castings before the concrete has sufficiently cured or an incorrect concrete mix.
I've never had luck with gluing broken castings. I've had better success with making a large mound/lump/pile of mortar mix and set the snuggly fitted leaf pieces in it. Hopefully the mortar mix will hold the pieces together. This works if there are a few large pieces, with a lot of little pieces this might not work. If you have fragments you can try setting them flat in a large flat "plop" of mortar mix. You'll have a" fossil in a stepping stone" effect.
I use straight mortar mix for my leaf castings, don't want to bother with trying to get the cement:sand ratio correct. I also don't paint mine but only because I prefer the plain concrete look.
Let us know how things turn out.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 12:05AM
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sprout_wi(z4 WI)

That is incredibly beautiful, laurastheme!! I hope you will tell us how you did this. Amazing. Thanks!!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 2:35AM
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I found this in when I did a search for leaf cast. Very interesting!!

Here is a link that might be useful: leaf casting

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 11:52AM
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To all of you who asked how I did it, the link above this post is a good one. I painted it with patio paint thinned with water. I painted the veins a darker shade, then sponged here and there with a yellow-green mix.
By the way I think I found out from my husband what the problem was. Down toward the bottom of the sack the concrete was beginning to get very firm. I dug it out, crumbled it with my hands and mixed it as usual. My husband the hardened concrete was no longer any good for mixing.
nmgirl, I'm going to try your solution. I've wondered about using mortar mix for leaf casting. Has it held up well. I also read somewhere here where somebody had used vinyl patch.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 4:12PM
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Your leaf is BEAUTIFUL!!!! Thanks for sharing your painting tips. Gonna have to put this on my to-do list

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 5:04PM
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yes, I remember reading somewhere that for hypertufa as well you should always buy new concrete/cement rather than use leftover that's been around awhile

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 7:34PM
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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

Never use old cement for anything. The hard stuff means it's absorbed moisture and has gone through it's chemical changes. That's a one-time-only-occurence. Best to throw it away, if you mix it with fresh it'll weaken the batch.
When you buy cement or concrete mix always check the bag(s) for hard spots. Sometimes the stuff will settle and pack inside the bags so tumble it around or bang on it with your fist to see if it'll loosen up. also check for water/moisture stains or marks on the outside of the bag. Even though the bags usually have a plastic liner, why risk wasting your money?
Re: mortar mix and vinyl patch
I've used both and they both hold up well. Mortar mix is a heavier mix so your casting will be on the hefty side. It's also cheaper than vinyl patch. I LOVE working with vinyl patch, I just can't afford it as often. V.P. will give you great details on your casting and is lighter weight. It's so much lighter that if you live in a high wind area (for whatever reason) you might want to keep an eye on it. I've had large leaf castings catch the wind and get flipped!
Good luck on future projects, leaf casting gets addicting! At least for me...

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 9:15PM
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concretenprimroses(4B NH)

Its beautiful! Nice to know the hint about vinyl patch.
Good luck fixing your others. Let us know.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 9:16AM
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It would help if you actually posted a picture of the cracks being referred to. This would show the size of the leaves and the cracks. Assuming these are not huge leaves and that they do not have large curves (such as a deep bowl which puts more weight on the sides)... and assuming the cracks were in the center (since that is where the largest veins would be and likely the thinnest leaf part... I would suggest the following.

Assuming the leaves did not crack entirely through the middles:
1) get some "bonder" you'll find in the concrete section looks like watered down glue. Brush/drip this into the cracked areas and mix up some cement (without sand if the crack is fine) that you can brush/push into and through the crack). Wipe up as needed (moist cloth) to prevent puddling and smooth surfaces flush. Let that set. THEN, to give it structural strength (if needed) consider flipping the leaf over, mix regular cement (as before). Brush bonder on the backside put some cement on and use some wire (for strength, hardware cloth stips or such), then more cement. If needed you can build a "base" onto it for a birdbath. If you aren't testing these pieces in any way (such as they are not heavy and the split likely to increase or they are not holding water for a bath or acting as a planter) then leave them with the patch only and an added layer on back - ALL ACROSS THE BACK.

It is possible that the rain added water to your piece making the cement less strong. The added water could've also messed with the curing. Where the cracks occur (inside or outside) might show this. If water got underneath the leaf or cement by seeping it could happen. It is also possible that the cement was simply not thick enough over a large vein...

I have yet to do this with a 4 foot gunnera I originally cast not realizing that the thickness under the largest vein was actually between 1/4 to 1/2 thick and at 150 pounds the weight and stress (load it for a show, unload it, over and over again) had "Jorge" (Gunnera, what else would I name it) split right down that vein but not until he had been ALL OVER the place... BTW, I was experimenting with him so never used wire... that'll teach me.

In any case, hope that helps. It would still help to see photos of the cracks and where as well as how big they are for more precise instructions. Hope this is clear enough for now.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 6:25PM
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Thanks, B2E, but it's too late. They broke all the way through into several pieces when I flipped them over (carefully). I'm pretty sure it was from concrete that was no longer good, as my husband told me. I saved a few small pieces to use in some spaces between stepping stones in my patio.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 7:35PM
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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

Reading back2eden's reply reminded me of another tip. Are you familiar with fiberglass tape used for taping joints in sheetrock? You can use this to reinforce a leaf casting and it won't rust or corrode like wire eventually will. SImply apply a moderate layer of mortar mix to the leaf then apply crisscrossed strips of the fiberglass tape across the back of the leaf crossing the main vein. Gently press the tape into the wet mortar then apply another thin layer to cover it.
This tape is easy to find, easy to work with, is thin and lightweight and can be used even on small leaf castings. I use it to reinforce 'tufa planters too.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2010 at 9:29PM
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laurastheme, your leaf casting is exquisite! Great job! Now I'll have to remember all these great tips for when I try this.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2010 at 2:30AM
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