Saturday, September 3, 2016

GARDEN PROJECT - Cast Leaf Chip and Dip Server

Cast Leaf Chip and Dip Server
The holidays are fast-approaching and that means plenty of good food and entertaining. Use the variety of richly veined leaves growing in your garden to create a unique server for chips and dip.  Large leaves from brocolli, rhubarb, elephant ears and cannas work very well for the larger base piece of the server.  Leaves from hydrangea, grapes and other simple-shaped leaves serve nicely for the dip holder piece.

What you’ll need:
Large and small leaves with nice deep veins on the reverse side.
All purpose sand
Sand topping concrete mix
Plastic mixing bowl
Concrete trowel
One-inch paint brush
Protective gloves
Polyurethane varnish and a brush

What you do:
1. Trim off the stems of both the large and small leaves.
2. Make a mound of damp sand on a plastic-covered work surface and place the large leaf over it with the underside facing up. Be sure the mound of sand is large enough so the sides of the leaf come down to, but do not touch, the work surface.  Do the same for the smaller leaf. These hump molds of sand will create the bowl shapes.  

3. For starters, measure 8 cups of the sand topping mix into the plastic mixing pail and slowly add water to form a thick, clay-like mass. It needs to be sculptable and not runny.
4. With gloved hands, cover both leaves with a 1/2” thick layer of concrete.  Leave 1/8” of leaf showing at the edge.  Do not allow the concrete to go past the edge of the leaf onto the sand or worK surface.  This will result in a thick edge that will greatly detract from the overall cast.  You want the edge of the bowl to be leaf texture rather than of sand or the plastic work surface.   

5. Allow to set over night.
6. The next day, lift leaf cast off of the sand mound.  Peel off the leaf and brush away excess sand.  Gently clean edges with gloved hands. The concrete will have set but is not cured and is fragile at this point.
7. Mix 1 cup of concrete mix to the consistency of thick fudge frosting.
8. Plop the concrete in the spot where you wish to place your smaller leaf dip dish and place the cast leaf into the wet concrete mix. Allow to sit about 5 minutes or until the mix is stiff.
9. Use the trowel to clear away excess concrete and the brush to blend the mortar joint into both surfaces of the leaves resulting in a seamless joint.
10. Let dry for one week and give two to three heavy coats of matt polyurethane varnish.  Allow to dry over night and place in th e sun for a day or two to cure.

11.Now you are ready to serve your chips and dip!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Flowers make a wedding especially beautiful and Lauren's florist Ivy, (, did an outstanding job with them. She was a generous collaborator and allowed us to join in the fun with flowers from our garden. I designed these flower stands to integrate with the chancel furnishings at Atonement and the talented Frank Mangiaracina built them with skill and precision. They really do a nice job of adding height and elegance to Ivy's arrangements.


The bride insisted the flatware be bundled a day before the wedding so all was ready for reception set up the following day. The problem was that she wanted a sprig of rosemary tied into each bundle. Even though I planted a good number of plants there was not enough. What to use instead that would look good the following day? Answer: boxwood! It worked like a charm!
 Colin and Gabby are tying boxwood sprigs to the flatware bundles with black gross grain ribbon. These were placed on top of the napkin centered on the plate. Since we did this a day before the reception, boxwood proved to be a perfect choice for greenery as it looked freshly cut 24 hours later!

Sunday, August 28, 2016


These guys in my Basic Design Class at Conception Seminary College are making their own handmade paper from recycled office memos, nature bits they've gathered in surrounding woods and cut up lines of their favorite psalms. The paper will be used in creating the covers and inside pages of a hardbound sketchbook journal focusing on the design elements of Shape and Texture.
Couching newly poured sheet of paper.

The paper is nade in a two-part mold: a screened frame and a deckle.

There are severeal methods for making paper.  Here we are using the poured pulp technique.

Friday, August 12, 2016


Usually the Studio Assistants are mixing paint or concrete at From the Summer's Garden. Today, we made hand-cranked ice cream to celebrate our senior who is bound for college at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. It has been a pleasure working with Joe these past four years and we wish him exiciting creative adventures ahead.
We are currently looking for a new Studio Assistant Apprentice who is a freshman or sophomore at one of the Shawnee Mission high schools. Our assistants usually come from these schools because of their proximity to the studio, resulting in a shorter travel time after school. 
If you think you might be interested or know someone who might be or know of someone who might be, please check out the job description in the menu bar above.
Email Steve at or give him a call at 913-579-5395 for more information or to apply.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Carla and Dean have created a Grandchildren Garden to celebrate their 13 grandchildren. For Dean's birthday, Carla had us make three grandchildren totems, one for each of her own kids featuring a stone for each grand child. These will add height and interest to their garden while honoring these kids!
We have a broad selection of different totem compoments and as you see here, do custom totems as well. We can help you create your own garden totem! The can stay outside year-round and can even be seasonalized.