Preserving large leaves for casting later

flagtruck(75570/NETX/Z8)August 31, 2005

Hi- I have been lurking here for about a week, you guys are great! I have never seen so much talent in one place before!

I thought I read here or in another forum about how to preserve leaves. If anyone has this could you please post here for me? All my big leaves are at their prime right now and there is no way I could do them all now since I have yet to do one, but plan the first for tomorrow...All help would be appreciated. Thanks for listening and sharing.

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This is a sycamore leaf. I put a very thin layer of vaseline on the back (veiny) side of the sycamore leaf, then mixed up plaster of paris (aka POP) Then after that set up, I put a layer of clear 100% silicone onto the POP cast of the leaf. I let that set up 24 hours, then peeled it off. Then I put a concrete mix into the silicone leaf mold. I can make many from this mold. I can even flex it into different positions so that not all the leaves are flat.

Here I am doing the same to a 31 inch elephant ear leaf. I can make this leaf over and over again in the silicone mold. The POP leaf is standing on a bookshelf in my home, it looks nice as it is. But it is fragile.

As far as "preserving" the actual leaf to use this winter, I have no memory of someone doing one of those.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 7:09PM
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Here is a leaf I cast from the silicone mold

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 7:16PM
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Thank you so much, that helped a lot and I love your work and what you have done...your yard is awesome too.
One more question, do you have a source for the silicone? I have seen some websites that have silicone mold casting
supplies, is that what you are talking about?
One of the 'recipes' I thought I had seen on here was using glycerin and water....oh well, I will try your approach and hope my efforts turn out as good as yours.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 7:24PM
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gottatufa(z5 ny)

Flagtruck, this is a weird thing. Friend of mine brought me some elephant ears and other assorted leaves from a trip she took. I put the leaves I didn't yet use, in the basement in a bucket of cold water with a lid snapped tight. Believe it or not, the leaves survived the whole winter in that bucket. In my opinion, if you place them in cold water or maybe in a refrigerator, while in water, they will last a surprising amount of time.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 8:39PM
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I have put rhubarb leaves in cold water, the stems, and they lasted almost a week. Some other Hosta also about a week.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 1:16AM
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Before my/our first attempt at casting, I read somewhere that freezing leaves made them easier to drape over the sand mound so we froze some of the leaves we used. No problem. I have no idea where I read about that though so I can't reference the idea. I currently have a small rhubarb leaf sitting in a glass of water on my kitchen counter and it's been there for over a week and is just fine so far. I also got some leaves from a friend a while back and put them in a camping cooler. They stayed fresh for quite a while too.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 4:28AM
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Thanks a lot to all of are certainly getting me started on the right giant elephant ears and hosta, castorbean, canna and lotus leaves will make quite an arrangement and I will have to get a BIG bucket..I will try to get molds made of all of them before winter sets in here, that won't be until about Nov..thank goodness..but the leaves will fade before that. We have had quite a hot summer and it is finally cooling off some..
I appreciate all your help and thanks for making a newbie feel welcome...I will post some pics when I complete my first...Thanks again..Carol

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 7:51AM
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packrat2(z5 ME)

Hi Carol, I don't have anything to add about preserving leaves but I do remember a post that mentions silicone and glycerine. It was posted by Nofu and is a very through explanation about using silicone calk. I copied it just recently and hope to try it myself soon. Unfortunately I can't seem to find any decent large leaves. Everything has been munched on :(
You've probably seen the wonderful tutorial on mold making by Marley(Buddyfly) on this page. Also a must see if you're casting leaves is the FAQ entry by Dena on the garden accoutrements forum.
Happy mudding

Here is a link that might be useful: using silicone calk as a mold

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 9:02AM
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If you haven't the time to make your molds immediately, you might try preserving the leaves with a glycerin and water solution. Supposedly, leaves so preserved will remain supple indefinately. You would then be able to make molds of them as time allows.
Here are some links to information about this process:


    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 11:03AM
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I would think a large leaf, like a 40 inch elephant ear, would be hard to preserve with water and glycerine. But if you have enough glycerine, try it, let us know how it works! Always interested in new ideas!! IMHO Much easier to slap some pop onto it, and make a silicone mold later. I used 5 tubes of 100% silicone caulk (undiluted) like you would use around doors and windows for my large leaf. NOT the latex. I have about 12 pop leaves in the garage waiting to be siliconed. The pop takes the detail of the leaves very very well, and very few if any bubbles. Marly is doing or has done a beautiful tutorial on the process, in fact, I learned from her, if anyone remembers her earlier postings on this forum!!!! I am sure the two part latex mold making stuff (Smooth On???)you buy would make a great mold, but I don't have $100 to spend on two buckets, and if you aren't careful, it will spoil on you and you have nothing. For what I am doing, the tubes of silicone caulk available at hardware stores is excellent!!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 12:35PM
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Grancru(z5 MI)

I have not used this yet but this looks like an easy solution for solicone molds.

Can anyone tell me how the 2 toned colors are created in many of the painted leaves posted on garden web. I have not painted yet and need to learn the process.


    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 9:44AM
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