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Posts Tagged ‘Concrete projects’

The rhubarb leaf stepping stones worked out very well. My friend across the street (who has been losing his leaves to my projects) had a fairly large leaf, because I had left his patch alone for a while. One look told me that it was a nice leaf to make a bird bath with.

I had been watering my newly seeded lawn twice a day for a few days and every time I did this , a robin came by and hopped though the spray from my hose. Seeing that planted a seed, because I saw the need. The robin was trying to tell me something.

The procedure is quite simple.Take a piece of plywood and lay it on a level surface. Put a piece of very thin plastic ( you could use a garbage bag) over the board.  Make a mound with moist sand the shape of the leaf on the plastic sheet on the board. Place the leaf on top of this mound. It should be a nice natural fit.

Put a layer of concrete about an inch thick over the entire leaf. Place some wire or wire mesh over the concrete for added strength. Remember to pat down the concrete so you get the air bubbles out. Lift up the plastic around the edge: shape and pat the edges so that you have a relatively smooth and thick edge that will be strong enough to avoid breakage.

Bird bath materials laid out.

Bird bath materials laid out.

Beginning to make the mold.

Beginning to make the mold.

The mold is ready for the leaf. For better results put the plastic on top of the sand and then place the leaf on the mold.

The mold is ready for the leaf. For better results put the plastic on top of the sand and then place the leaf on the mold.

Leaf ready to have concrete applied.

Leaf ready to have concrete applied.

Sorry, no pictures of the cement process. I mixed two batches with different dyes. This produced the mottled appearance.

The finished bird bath installed in my garde.

The finished bird bath installed in my garden.

Within minutes of installing the bird bath, a bird was flying overhead, checking it out. You can see its reflection in the water. This project is definitely for the birds.

After completing my birdbath, I found the following article and videos  for making a rhubarb leaf bird bath in a sample issue of GardenGate magazine. The author used a latex patch concrete, while I used regular premixed concrete, which has a bigger aggregate in it.

Written instructions on  how to sand cast a bird bath.

Videos on how to sand cast a bird bath.

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I have just started playing with making stepping stones out of rhubarb leaves.

I started by making a form using the leaf as a guide for my shape. I used 2X6’s as the sides for my mold or form. I laid these out so that the whole leaf was covered and traced the leaf onto the 2X6 pieces. Then I set my band saw table at 5 degrees so that my mold would release the block after it set. I screwed these pieces of 2X6 onto some plywood and caulked the inside edge, both to seal the edge and to round over the edge of the stone. Then I sprayed the mold with silicon spray as a release agent, and placed the rhubarb leaf into the mold.  I mixed  redi mix concrete and poured it into the mold. I used a 1/2″ cordless hammer drill to vibrate the air out of the concrete.

After two days I popped the cast leaf out of the mold and wrapped it in plastic to keep it from dying out too fast. The hardest part of the process was letting it sit for at least another 5 days before removing the residue of the real leaf and exposing the imprint on the concrete.

I tried pouring the concrete both on the front of the leaf and on the back side of the leaf. Both gave me different and distinct results. I prefer the front side of the leaf because it produces an imprint with fewer undercuts. This allows the leaf to release more easily.

Rhrubarb leaf stepping stone form.

Rhubarb leaf stepping stone form.

Leaf placed in the mold

Leaf placed in the mold

A cariage bolt and hammer drill make a good vibrating tool.

A cariage bolt and hammer drill make a good vibrating tool.

Rhubarb stepping stone path

Rhubarb stepping stone path

Concrete Poured On Leaf Back
Concrete poured on underside of leaf
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Concrete poured on face of leaf

When I asked my granddaughter if she wanted to make a leaf stepping stone, she said she wasn’t interested. She just wanted to play. I pulled the three stones I had out of the mold and my grandson and I began pealing back the leaf to reveal the rhubarb stepping stones. It wasn’t long before we had help and then came the request, “Grandpa, can I make a stepping stone now?”

The result of her efforts

The result of her efforts

The real fun started when the concrete had set enough to put hand prints and messages on the back of the stepping stone. No one ever gets tired of leaving their mark in wet concrete.

Grandchildren leaving their mark.

Grandchildren leaving their mark.

And then the actual path begins. Stones are laid out and the grass is planted. I’ll update again when I have made more stones and the grass is green and construction materials are gone.

stepping stone path1

The path will meander between our house and the neighbor’s, straddling the property line. We have 8 feet between the houses and the length is 50 feet. It was an unsightly and unused space. Now it will be a lovely parkland space with shrubs and flowers for both of us (and wild life)  to enjoy

An added bonus is that I was able to slope the ground so that we no longer have a low spot that collects water. It now  drains to our front lawns.

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