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!