concrete birdbath leaf casting HELP

lizziem62(z4 Ont.)May 8, 2006

hi, i have some wonderful instructions for making a rhubarb leaf bird bath (instructions i got from this site)

however, i have been hearing things about concrete and i am wondering about them, since they were not addressed in my instructions.

the most important is about the concrete leaching lime into the birdbath. do i have to soak it in water, or will using the water sealer product work?

how long do i wait before sealing my leaf, the instructions say one week, is that long enough, then once it is dry i can use it right away? is this right?

also, there is no reinforcement in these instructions (i think they came from the better homes and gardens ) will my bath be alright with nothing reinforcing it?

thanks, i am anxiously awaiting your replies!

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Dena6355(z8 WA)

Breathe, breathe. Leaf casting is fun.
Ok first you asked about the leaching of lime, well I only keep my leaves damp for several days and let them cure for a total of 28 days. I have no dead birds around the place. But I also have been known to put the leaf in the garden in about a week. I do paint some of my leaves, and I do not make the bowl very deep, birds can drown faster than getting a lime overdose. Sometimes I seal the leaf sometimes I dont. It takes quite a bit of good water resistant/proof sealant so that water will not just go through the 'concrete'. There are others here who will further on the sealer.
Now for the re-inforcement thing; this is my rule of 'thumbs' if the size of the leaf is two hand breadths (thumbs linked together) to the end of your outstretched fingers, for me that is about 14+" that will require re-inforcement. I use fber wall tape, others will use fiber cloth cut in strips or squares. Fiber wall tape can be found at the hardware store. Cut strips and make a criss cross that is about the same size as the leaf, only a few strips will help. Lay down a thin layer of mix, then place the fiber tape, and add another layer.
Happy casting, do not hesitate to ask, there are several leaf casters on this forum and this is the perfect time of year for many leaves.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2006 at 10:29PM
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lizziem62(z4 Ont.)

dena thanks. what do you mean by "it takes quite a bit of water proof/resistant sealer so that water will not just go throught he crete" do you mean that if you dont seal it, the water just soaks and leaks out? how many coats of the sealer.

can anyone recommend a good sealer to use? thanks!!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 11:21PM
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club_53(z5 MA)

A latex bonding agent supposedly keeps the water from absorbing into the cement... just bought some and haven't tried it yet. I'm making a couple of bird bath leaves, but am using white portland and white sand mixture...couldn't figure out how to make "white" hypertufa.

A question for you more experienced folks: will the latex bonding agent work with 'tufa with its peat moss, etc. in it -- too porous by nature?

Have any of you found that if you really pack your 'tufa mix densely, the water doesn't drain out of the finished product? My pieces don't drain, although I am guilting of bashing the living daylights out of the bottoms -- jump up and down on them with a small piece of wood and my size 9's to get them tamped :) Find that when bashed to death, they withstand being outside in the winters. The only ones that have broken have been ones that were not sufficiently compacted.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 2:56PM
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I've done tufa fountains etc, and not had it drainout. Might make a difference how much you pack it and the denseness of your mix?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 3:22PM
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I am making birdbaths and i am having a problem with them leaking i use 11/2 pet,11/2 perlite 1 cement and hand full of reforcement, i dont know what to do do i need to coat them with something and if so what?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 10:30AM
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The tufa mixs I used would have been more like 1part portland, 1-2 parts sand , then the rest being peat , vermiculite, or perlite. That likely gives a denser tighter mix than the peat and perlite you are using sjones. Try playng with this type of recipe and it should be okay. I have heard you can also use a good coat of wax to seal bb.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 10:40AM
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All unsealed concrete wicks water & 'Tufa, with it's many channels will certainly do the same. That said, it's really a question of mow much, how fast. Here are a few notes on the subject.

The denser the mixture, the more resistant it is to water transmission. Latex & acrylic admixtures help "densify" the overall mix and are themselves naturally resistant to water.

Introducing a microaggregate such as fly ash will also densify any mix and greatly increase its resistance to water penetration.

Doing both of the above in higher concentrations makes for a virtually waterproof mix as long as other dominant aggregates do not promote wicking.

***For items that are designed to constantly "contain" water...a good sealer is highly recommended, preferably at least two coats. Standing water collects chemicals from the environment that will settle and concentrate over time as water is evaporated and/or replaced. These chemicals can build up within the concrete and reach concentration levels that may be injurious to either the concrete...or the wildlife using it. Thoroughly sealing at least the area in contact with the water prevents these concentrations from building up in the material and makes flushing them from the surface as simple as hosing or wiping them away.

Penetrating sealers outlast surface clad sealers by probably an order of magnitude and are actually less likely to introduce anything into the water supply.

Finally, adding a coat of wax further adds a renewable layer of water sure to use a "food grade" product such as old-fashioned bee's wax. Many of todays "waxes"...aren't really wax at all. They are often a rather nasty mix of synthetic chemical compounds. Check the label before you apply.

Hope you find something helpful here.

All My Best --- Tango

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 11:46AM
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lizziem62(z4 Ont.)

thanks tango, great info. i really am worried about keeping the bath safe for the birds.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 11:00PM
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Hello all: Been reading posts about safe sealers for birdbahs and something occured to me that may or may not work. Am going to try this in the AM and will relate results if they are or are not succesful. Wonder what would happen if pure old parifin were melted (propane torch) into the inside of the bath ?? Can't hurt to try.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2006 at 11:55PM
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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

'Tufa birdbaths? The good thing about 'tufa is that it doesn't hold water so a 'tufa birdbath will, of course, leak. The material isn't meant to hold water (to my understanding), it's meant to drain. Instead of tufa try using masonry mix or vinyl patch. They still need to be sealed but they will hold water much better than 'tufa.
Re: Paraffin for sealing.
This works well, a bit tedious to apply but it does work. It was the method of choice before all these new tile/concrete sealers came on the market. Using a propane torch is a novel idea but be careful, concrete/'tufa tends to crack if overheated. Also the peat moss in the 'tufa mixture will burn.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2006 at 4:22AM
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I would love to recieve instructions and pictures on making leaf castings from rhubarb and other leaves. I would also like to recieve information on making leaf casting fountains.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 3:00PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

I just allowed my hypertufa leaf casting of a rhubarb leaf to dry for a while without leaching at all and then coated it with the paint of my choice and then overcoated it with polyurethane. The leaf is not very deep and needs constant water addition not due to it leaking but due to the extreme heat and drought conditions we have been experiencing for the past month or so.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2007 at 6:47PM
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nckvilledudes - Maybe you wouldn't want to try this; but if this piece was mine I would try to lightly sand as much paint as I could off- then spray throughly with a water hose, then place in a shallow water bath changing the water frequently(daily) to remove any lime, (or whatever that white stuff is called) Keep in water for about a week then dry, seal and repaint. Possible you may remove some of the smaller veins during the sanding. You could try the water bath method first without removing the paint to see if this may help.
Maybe one of the more experts here can help you out with a better idea. Good luck, Wendy

    Bookmark   August 21, 2007 at 12:33PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Why would I want to do that elephantear? The pH of the water that is allowed to sit in the birdbath is the same after sitting a day as it is when I put it in the bath. Also, since the bath is so shallow, the water needs replacing constantly. The white spot you see in the picture is an artifact from the flash on the camera and not anything that is actually present on the finished product.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 1:42AM
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The water bath that you would submerge your birdbath in would soak the bottom plus the top-sides, not just from the top, where it just get water daily for the birds. Maybe if you sand the complete bottom a little and try this the bb may release more lime-you could try this for about a week or so then dry and reseal the bottom. Wendy

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 4:27PM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Again, I don't get your point elephantear. I am not having problems with the water leaching out of the bird bath at all or it leaking. The water is evaporating due to the shallow nature of the birdbath and the hot temps. What am I missing here?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 1:48AM
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I think your leaf is just fine, and looks wonderful.
And thank you for sharing it with all of us!

I think part of the problem is it is posted in an old thread and elephanear may have caught something from something posted in an earlier part of the thread.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 8:14AM
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Whoops!!!Marciayes it does appear that I must have read something higher up.

Sorry nckvilledudes for my confussion!
Yes your bird bath is beautiful, here in the midwest Mother Nature is keeping our bird baths full, in fact many days they have been overflowing. Three weeks ago we were complaining that it was too dry!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 7:49PM
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I know, all we are getting now is rain.....and my grass is growing! I will finally have something to put into the composter!

And no problem, I figured you may have been misled with a remark further up in the post. It happens to all of us! lol


    Bookmark   August 23, 2007 at 8:01PM
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Thanks Marcia for your support-the title of this thread also 'threw' me off, suggesting that help was needed.

We live very close to the Mississippi river which has been rising like crazy, our small town is located high so we never get any flooding, but further north got hit bad and now further south is getting flooded-this weather in August is terrible for many. Hope that you in zone 4 are also high and at least some-what dry.
Guess this is all getting away from the thread in the subject that was first posted.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2007 at 8:39AM
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nckvilledudes(7a NC)

Send the rain our way. Four weeks with minimal rainfall and temps from the low to high 90s has made everything here brown and crunchy. Mandatory water conservation in the surrounding areas are popping up right and left.

Glad to know it was not me with the confusion. I kept rereading things to try and figure out what I was missing! LOL

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 10:51AM
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Hi all; I am very very new to this. I am wanting to make a mother mold since I can't get my hands on many Elephant Ear leaf's. I have read many of these forums and have decided to make it out of POP and then seal the casting mold with what someone had suggested like shellac.... then to use one sort of a release agent or another before using my concrete. Others had suggested a silicone mold with thinning the silicone first so that it picks up the veins better. What product should I thin the silicone with? Any suggestions on these questions would be sooooo appreciated. Thanks Judy

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 8:27PM
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I've made many birdbaths and all I ever do, is pour some Thompson's water sealer in them and apply it over the entire inner surface with an old paintbrush. It may take an application or two, but that usually does the trick for me. I've had plenty of birds use my birdbaths, and haven't noticed any dead birds around, except for an occasional one that the cat gets.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 1:35AM
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