Step 1: Find a Leaf
Step 2: Make a Sand Pile
Step 3: Shape the Sand
Step 4: Mix the Cement
Step 5: Build the Casting
Step 6: Loosely Cover Mixture with Plastic
Step 7: Paint or Seal the Birdbath
Choose a leaf at least 10 inches long and 7 inches wide and cut off the stem. We used a hosta leaf, but rhubarb, burdock, gunnera, castor bean, caladium and elephant’s ear leaves also work well.
Spread out a sheet of plastic or a large plastic bag to protect your work surface. Pour the play sand onto the plastic and make a pile. Wet the sand slightly so that it sticks together, the way you would to make a sand castle.
Shape the pile to approximate the size and shape of your leaf, but keep in mind that birds prefer baths that aren't more than a couple of inches deep. Once the sand pile is shaped to your liking, cover it with a piece of plastic or a plastic bag. Center the leaf, vein side up, on top of the plastic.
In a plastic bowl, mix three parts fine sand to one part Portland cement. Mix 1/4cup water and 1/4 cup concrete fortifier, and add slowly to the sand until it’s the consistency of a thick brownie batter. It’s easiest to wear rubber gloves and squish it with your hands. Mix more water and fortifier to add to the sand if needed. Thoroughly rinse your gloves or hands. Pick up a handful of the sand mixture, plop it in the center of the leaf and spread to the edges. This gives you a solid surface that picks up the leaf’s veining while removing any air bubbles.
Now slowly start building up the thickness of the casting. For strength, keep it between 1/2 and 1-in. thick. Be careful to keep the edges smooth to get a good contour. Once the casting is thick enough, build up the center to create a pedestal.
If it's a hot day, you might want to mist the casting periodically to keep it from drying out too fast and cracking. Let your project dry slowly for about 24 hours, then peel off the leaf. If the casting feels brittle, let it sit for another day.
After the casting has dried for a week, paint or seal it. Or just leave it as is!
© 2012 Reiman Media Group, LLC.