Hosta Leaf Sculptures with Little and Lewis
Seattle-area sculptors George Little and David Lewis are known for their beautiful concrete castings of large leaves such as hostas, which they then paint in whimsical colors to accent the garden. George and David love working with concrete because it fills every line and pore of a mold to precisely reproduce its details; the molds for their leaf sculptures are the leaves themselves. The sculptors began experimenting with grape leaves, then moved on to larger leaves. The largest one they currently produce is Gunnera, which can grow up to six and a half feet wide.
- Fine sand
- Powdered pigment
- Bonding agent (a concrete-strengthening additive)
- Plastic wrap
- Inexpensive 2-inch paintbrush
- Exterior latex paint
- Soft cotton cloth
Choose a large, sturdy, unblemished hosta leaf from your garden.
In a bucket, mix 3 parts fine sand, 1 part cement, and pigment as desired. Add a little bonding agent and enough water to make a paste. The mixture needs to be easily workable--like spreadable cream cheese--but not too wet or dry.
Make a heap of sand (do not pack down tightly) about 6 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches larger than the leaf all around.
Press the leaf gently into the sand, with the bottom side of the leaf facing upward. Push sand around the edges where needed and add a little more under the leaf where required. This supports the leaf under the layer of heavy concrete you'll apply.
Place strips of plastic wrap under the edges of the leaf to keep the sand away from the concrete.
With gloves on, spread the concrete mixture over the leaf to form a layer about 1/2 inch thick, following the contours and thinning to about 1/4 inch at the edges. Brush smooth with a damp 2-inch paintbrush.
Let set overnight, covered with plastic wrap.
The next day, pull the leaf off of the concrete and gently trim any rough edges by scraping them with an old screwdriver or knife.
To paint your leaf sculpture, mix 1 part exterior latex paint in a color of your choice with 2 parts water, and brush over the surface of the leaf. Wipe at once with a soft cotton cloth to remove enough paint to provide a good finish. The paint should be thicker in the veins to emphasize the texture of the leaf.
Allow to dry. You can paint the back with undiluted paint to finish.