Leaf-Embossed Tabletop Mold
The broad leaves of elephant's ear lend a breezy, tropical feel to this hypertufa tabletop. The greenery is arranged on a Plexiglas base before the mold is filled. Sand stirred into the mixture and a hidden layer of mesh supply the necessary reinforcement.
- Spray adhesive
- Klubbo nesting tables, from Ikea, 800-434-4532
- Textured leaves, such as elephant's ears
- 1/4-inch-thick Plexiglas, cut to fit your table base, Home Depot, 800-553-3199
- Four 2-inch-long pieces of 1-by-4-inch wood
- Four lengths of 1-by-4-inch wood (frame sides), cut at least 4 inches longer than each side of Plexiglas
- Drill with regular and masonry bits
- 8 wood screws
- 4 C or A clamps
- Universal Smooth-On Mold Release (No. 66MR1), from the Compleat Sculptor, 800-972-8578
- Dust mask
- Peat moss (No. 809383), and perlite (No. 809352), both by Miracle-Gro; Gray
- Portland cement, from Home Depot, 800-553-3199
- Rubber mallet
- Wire-mesh hardware cloth, cut 1/2-inch shorter than Plexiglas on all sides
- Sheet of plastic
Mount leaves. Using spray adhesive, mount leaves (textured-side up) onto Plexiglas in desired pattern, securing the stems as well.
Construct mold. Stack a 2-inch piece of wood at 1 end of 1 wood frame side, aligning the edges; using drill, secure with 2 wood screws. Repeat, securing remaining 3 wood pieces to remaining frame sides; these stacked pieces will give the clamps something to grip at each corner. Align 1 frame side at bottom-left corner of Plexiglas, with 2-inch piece facing out. At bottom-right corner, add second frame side, aligning 2-inch piece with corner. Clamp both frame sides in place at bottom-right 2-inch piece. Repeat process to complete the square, adjusting as needed so that there is no space between wood and Plexiglas. Coat mold interior with mold-release spray.
Prepare hypertufa mixture (see "Basic Hypertufa How-To"): Wearing gloves and dust mask, mix 8 quarts peat moss, 8 quarts perlite, and 8 quarts Portland cement in a large, shallow bin. Add water gradually until mixture has the consistency of yogurt. Pour mixture into mold to a 1-inch depth. Tap exterior gently with rubber mallet to level mixture. Lay mesh hardware cloth on top of mixture, centering it. Mix 2 quarts of sand into remaining mixture, and pour it on top of hardware cloth. Tap exterior again with rubber mallet. Cover with plastic.
4. Let set for 36 hours, then gently remove mold. Flip tabletop over. Gently pull away Plexiglas; gently remove embedded leaves from hypertufa slab. Wrap it with plastic, and let cure for several weeks (a month is best).