How to Cast Leaves in Plaster

So, while perusing the web looking for crafty ideas, I came across several versions of leaves cast in concrete.  Absolutely beautiful.  But after checking out the cost of supplies at the Home Depot, I decided that maybe I could scale mine down a bit.  I already had plenty of Plaster of Paris, so I decided to try my own version of plaster casted leaves.

So, while perusing the web looking for crafty ideas, I came across several versions of leaves cast in concrete.  Absolutely beautiful.  But after checking out the cost of supplies at the Home Depot, I decided that maybe I could scale mine down a bit.  I already had plenty of Plaster of Paris, so I decided to try my own version of plaster casted leaves.

For this project I used:

Several large leaves from my Elephant Ear plant
Plaster of Paris
Plastic (to protect my work surface)
Newspaper
Hemp cording or string

I began by covering my table in plastic. You can use trash bags for this or in my case, I used large plastic bags.  Crunch up some newspaper to put under the upside-down leaf to support the center.  (You don’t want your leaf to be flattened by the weight of the plaster).

Roll up more pieces of newspaper and put under the edges of the leaves in several places to create nice waves in the leaf.  You will have to use one leaf for every plaster casting as the leaves lose a ton of texture if you try to re-use them.

Mix the Plaster of Paris with water in a plastic cup.  Add enough water to make the plaster a consistency similar to yogurt.  Then spoon the plaster over your leaf.  Plaster does not stick to the leaf and in some cases will try to roll off, but be persistent.  Try to spread it just to the edges of the leaf, creating a layer of plaster over the leaf that is about ¼  inch thick.

Now at this point, if you are smart, you will add a hanger of some sort into the plaster before it dries.  Something like a pop can tab works great.  I’m not that smart, so I did not do this and had to come up with a plan as to how to hang them after the fact.  But live and learn.

Now allow the leaf to dry for at least an hour.  Don’t get all antsy like I did and try to unmold it before it is totally hard.  These leaves are fragile and if the plaster hasn’t set completely, it will break into a bunch of leafy pieces.  Ask me how I know.

Now, flip your mold over and peel off the leaf.  Awesome.

If you are messy like I am, you may have to do some trimming on the edges.  Carefully use a craft blade to score the edges and then snap off the extra in little pieces.  Keep in mind that these plaster leaves are fragile.  “Fragilayyy! Must be Italian!” (My favorite line from “The Christmas Story”).

Since I wasn’t smart enough to put in hangers, I knotted some hemp cord and strung it through the hole created by the leaf stem and used that to hang them.  Then I just arranged them in a nice little group on my wall.  I totally would have done more, but I broke one when I couldn’t wait for it to dry, and the husband had a fit because I was cutting leaves off of his prized Elephant Ear plant.  But three is a good number.

And his prized Elephant Ears are now preserved for eternity!

If you enjoyed this tutorial, you might like my Plaster Casting with Sand tutorial.  Using my handy-dandy plaster, and sand as a mold, I created some sunny plaques.

Or check out my Faux Textured Chair Rail tutorial- another way to use plaster to create a great textured chair rail.

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{ 71 comments… add one }

  • Donna S. July 15, 2015, 12:41 pm

    Am a little late to the ‘party'; but wanted to say how MUCH I love your leaves, and, I have a problem.
    I’ve ruined 12 leaves trying to get this to work. I’ve made thick and thin plaster. The thin one runs off the leaf and UNDER it making a thick glob I can’t get off. That’s the biggest problem. If I make it too thick, it dries before I can spread it over the whole leaf. But again, the one where I try to make it the consistency of yogurt…it just runs off the leaf. Help? :)

  • Farida September 5, 2014, 3:35 am

    Great work..they look lovely…thanks for the detailed tutorial

  • Milena Fernandes July 7, 2014, 1:00 pm

    Hey Suzy, thank you so much for inspiring me! I was looking for something to do for a crazy college work with plaster and this tutorial will be very usefull for me! Thanks again :)

  • Aparna May 9, 2013, 3:56 am

    Hi Suzy,
    Your ideas are amazing and simple enough to be done with my three year old.. I just have one question though. Can we do this leaf pattern using joint compound? If yes then do I need to mix some kind of glue in it? I have some joint compound lying at home wonder if I can use it instead of plaster of Paris???

    Cheers

    • Susan Myers May 9, 2013, 8:55 am

      Hi!

      I have never tried this with joint compound, however, I have worked with joint compound on other projects. I found that it cracks easily and is not nearly as sturdy. Even with plaster of paris, this particular project is a delicate one and you need to use at least an inch of plaster to get a sturdy mold of the leaves. You can try joint compound, but an additive may be necessary. Let me know if you decide to do it and how it turns out.

      Thanks so much for your kind words!

  • Julie Seidell March 7, 2013, 7:18 pm

    Hi!
    Love the plaster leaves! I saw your tutorial and raced out to the store to get the plaster. I only found pottery plaster, is there a difference between this and Plaster of Paris? Can I use the pottery plaster?
    Thanks!

    • Susan Myers March 7, 2013, 8:40 pm

      Hi Julie,

      I’ve never worked with pottery plaster before, but I would think it would work. Mix it to yogurt like consistency and pour over your leaf. Be sure to make a layer of plaster at least 1/2 inch thick and allow it to dry fully before pulling off the leaf. Let me know how it goes!

      suzy

  • GINA October 23, 2012, 2:23 pm

    HELLO- I have tried this 6 different time… all of the leaves have fallen apart. With the most delicate touch or pressure to even take leaves out it cracks and falls apart. I am left with a mound of un usable plaster. I even tried adding the glue to make it stronger and they all still fell apart. When I had one that stayed together… trying to get the excess off, which is impossible not to have, it work crumble… help!!

    • Suzy October 23, 2012, 2:42 pm

      Hi Gina,

      I have a couple suggestions that I hope help you out. First of all, be sure you aren’t trying to do this in a humid environment. Second, you need to put a thick coating of plaster on top of the leaf- about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Your plaster needs to be of a thick yogurt like consistency. (It will not spread easily). Third, be sure to allow your leaves to dry thoroughly before handling them. At least several hours.

      Hope that helps.

      suzy

  • Valdinéia October 21, 2012, 3:16 pm

    Olá !!!
    Gostaria de saber qual a diferença deste gesso Paris para o outro ? e a diferença de preço um do outro ?
    Obrigada

    • Suzy October 21, 2012, 8:14 pm

      Penso de gesso de Paris pode ser um nome de marca. Gesso em pó vai trabalhar para este projeto. Certifique-se de colocá-lo sobre grossa para a força.
      suzy

  • Laura @ House of Joyful Noise October 16, 2012, 7:36 pm

    That really IS SO COOL, Suzy!
    I have never worked with plaster of Paris. I’m looking forward to trying to play with it now though.

  • Brenda July 7, 2011, 8:32 pm

    beautiful and looks like a great project for my art camp at work!

  • Nicole@Thrifty Decorating July 6, 2011, 5:13 pm

    Featuring these this week! :)

  • Rhinestone Beagle July 5, 2011, 3:53 pm

    Very cool. Love all the detail in the leaves. Thanks so much for linking up!

  • Anonymous July 4, 2011, 7:08 pm

    Ooo…wonderful! I could imagine doing this for a miniature birdbath or something. Also, I don't know about your elephant ear but I know ours stand up to PLENTY of cutting and chopping; unless it's an indoor plant, it'll probably be fine. (We have several just due to them sprouting and having to chop them in half so they aren't too large!)

  • Ashleigh July 3, 2011, 5:00 pm

    I love, love, LOVE it! Definantly will have to try this! I'm now your newest follower. :) Your blog is such an inspiration to me, as a newbie. Looking forward to reading more!

    http://www.RusticCharmDesign.blogspot.com

  • mamaTAVE July 3, 2011, 5:22 am

    Found you through the Rhinestone Beagle… I have seen this done on a larger scale, using concrete, to make a bird bath. I like your take on it–nice to see a different option. The wall display looks lovely!

  • {nifty thrifty things} July 2, 2011, 9:48 am

    What a cool idea!!
    Thank you so much for linking it up to {nifty thrifty sunday} last week!
    Hope to see more of your creativity tonight! :)
    xoxo,
    Vanessa

  • SJ @ Homemaker On A Dime July 2, 2011, 4:02 am

    The Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop has grown for the better because of your participation. Thanks for linking up this great post!

  • Denise July 1, 2011, 3:54 pm

    Suzy, I love, love, love this! Great idea! I am featuring it this afternoon!

  • Carissa July 1, 2011, 9:46 am

    These are awesome! Thanks for sharing the tutorial. As soon as I can figure out where I would put these, I'll be making some for myself. In the meantime, I've pinned it.

    I found you through the party at momnivore's dillema and I'm your newest follower. Would love a follow back if you're interested. :-) –> Carissa's Creativity Space

  • Allison {A Glimpse Inside} July 1, 2011, 3:27 am

    They look fantastic! I saw this on the MS show one day and thought they were cool. Awesome job. Thanks for linking up to this week's Catch a Glimpse party.

  • gail July 1, 2011, 2:05 am

    Those are really amazing! so impressed!
    gail

  • Rae June 30, 2011, 9:21 pm

    So beautiful ~ I want to make some too now!

  • Mimi June 30, 2011, 4:27 pm

    What a wonderful and lovely creation! I love these! I don't have an Elephant Ear Plant but I'll be checking out my yard for something to use!
    Thanks for sharing at Thrifty Thursday!

  • creativejewishmom/sara June 30, 2011, 3:55 pm

    gorgeous! next time give it a try with cement for some gorgeous leaves to put in the garden……been wanting to try that myself, it was featured on a Craft Schooling Sunday last year some time. thanks for sharing on Craft Schooling Sunday!

  • Lovely Light June 30, 2011, 12:31 pm

    Hi there- found you through the Thrifty Thursday hop and am a new follower. I love these. They somehow remind me of my childhood and finding leaf impressions in the concrete side walk. They look so easy to make. I hope you have time to follow my life in South Africa by http://withoutcomplexities.blogspot.com

    Have a great weekend!

  • Handy Man, Crafty Woman June 30, 2011, 11:51 am

    Beautiful! I can totally see these on a wall or smaller leaves made into Christmas ornaments! Thank you for linking to Handy Man, Crafty Woman's Wicked Awesome Wednesday!

  • Madigan at madiganmade June 30, 2011, 10:58 am

    These are beautiful and look great on your wall! Great tutorial, thanks!

  • LDH June 29, 2011, 11:37 pm

    This is the coolest most unique project I have seen in ages! Love it! I am so excited to peruse your blog and see what other fantastic ideas you have here :)

    Kindly, Lorraine

  • Dr Sonia S V June 29, 2011, 5:06 pm

    What an amazing project! Thank You for sharing your experience!
    Cheers from Bangalore ,India
    Dr Sonia S V
    http://cardsandschoolprojects.blogspot.com

  • Jen @ Domesticated Nomad June 29, 2011, 1:39 pm

    Oh, wow! I've never even seen that before. I do Art Adventures every Tuesday where I show how to teach a project to kids and I just did Sand Casting. I see now that you have a post on that as well. :) I may have to try this technique. Following now. I hope you will visit me.

  • Lisa June 29, 2011, 12:41 pm

    These are SO pretty! People pay so much for these in stores! Reminds me of the ones I tried to make in ceramics class in college, but yours are much nicer!

  • Ginger Snaps June 29, 2011, 4:20 am

    Following from Not Just a Housewife. Love how those turned out! :) Would love to have you link this up to my {wow me} wednesday link party going on right now over on my blog. The most view link will receive a set of fancy rectangle chalkboard labels from my etsy shop. Hope to see you there.

    Ginger
    gingersnapcrafts.blogspot.com

  • Leslie June 28, 2011, 10:49 pm

    They turned out great!

  • Aimee June 28, 2011, 8:40 pm

    I love this! The leaves look like sculptures.

  • Leah June 28, 2011, 6:38 pm

    These are so beautiful, thanks for sharing the tutorial!

  • Karima June 28, 2011, 4:39 pm

    Lovely post, thanks for sharing.
    New follower, please pop by Karima x
    http://www.karimascrafts.com

  • Korrie@RedHenHome June 28, 2011, 1:35 pm

    Love these! Pinning this idea!

  • Lauren @ My Wonderfully Made June 28, 2011, 1:17 pm

    SO pretty!! Really — this is a great tutorial with so many possibilities — how cute would LITTLE leaves be scattered around an arrangement of books, etc.!? Thanks for sharing this with us!

  • Sam June 28, 2011, 11:22 am

    These look amazing!

  • CREATIVE MIND June 28, 2011, 9:15 am

    Hey Lovely Suzy..i like your tutorials & always speechless to see..you are a super talented awesome friend :)
    Well i have lots of types palm plants in garden & i will definitely try this one soooon
    Lots of Love!!!
    Khadija

  • Confessions of a Stay at Home Mommy June 28, 2011, 1:39 am

    Wow! I would love it if you would link up to my Tuesday Confessional link party going on now: http://www.craftyconfessions.com/2011/06/tuesday-confessional-link-party.html
    ~Macy from Confessions of a SAHM

  • Anonymous June 28, 2011, 12:30 am

    Beautiful!

  • Poppy June 27, 2011, 10:59 pm

    Ingenious idea! I love this beautiful project, opens up so many creative possibilities. Thanks for sharing this amazing tutorial. Visiting from Motivated Monday, and you have inspired me. I'm going to try this.. Have a great week!~Poppy

    http://withadashofcolor.blogspot.com/

  • BluBabesCreate June 27, 2011, 7:49 pm

    I love this idea! Amazing!

  • Lucy Designs June 27, 2011, 4:50 pm

    these are crazy awesome!! LOVE it!

  • Angela June 27, 2011, 3:03 pm

    Thank you for joining me at my blog party Simply Creative! Stop by this Thursday and we'll party again!!

    Angela
    http://365days2simplicity.blogspot.com

  • Aisling Beatha June 27, 2011, 1:52 pm

    They look really good.

  • Felicia @ All Things Fee June 27, 2011, 12:27 pm

    Absolutely stunning!

    Would love for you to share at Calling All Crafters!
    http://allthingsfee.blogspot.com/2011/06/calling-all-crafters-13th-edition.html

  • Charisa June 27, 2011, 11:38 am

    What a great idea!

  • Jill June 27, 2011, 10:26 am

    Oooooh! They look great! Looks like a good thing to try with my kids!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success
    http://www.jembellish.blogspot.com/

  • Michelle L. June 26, 2011, 10:27 pm

    Quite gorgeous! I love them in pure white, such a cool look!

  • Suzy Myers June 25, 2011, 8:15 pm

    Marilyn,

    Excellent idea!! I wish I had thought of it while putting these together! Next time for sure. Thanks for the tips!!

    suzy

  • Marilyn S. SE TX June 25, 2011, 3:50 pm

    Hi Suzy,

    LOVE your SitCom. Great ideas all the time and lots of sharing the limelite with others as well.

    To make your beautiful leaves more sturdy, try patting a layer of gauze on the back after you put the finishing touches on the plaster. And the purchase of a package of good silver colored hairpins would make wonderful hangers. Smaller and lighter than pop tops from drink cans.

  • The Answer Is Chocolate June 25, 2011, 3:06 pm

    These are so stunning! My father in law has a HUGE elephant ear plant so I'm going to have to snag some leaves from him to try this. Thanks for linking up!

  • Antonella June 25, 2011, 10:32 am

    These are great – it doesn't look too hard to do either… I've never tried it before, may have to though! Too funny… I stopped over from the Answer is Chocolate BFF Link Party where I've linked up too… pop on over if you get a chance.
    Hugs, antonella :-)
    http://quilling.blogspot.com/2011/06/wondrous-wednesday-patriotic-printable.html

  • Michelle@Somedaycrafts June 25, 2011, 7:22 am

    That is so cool. How do you come up with all these great ideas? You are amazing!

  • Baye June 24, 2011, 9:51 pm

    Really nice! It would be fun to paint them, too.

  • Susan @ Busy Home Adventures June 24, 2011, 7:08 pm

    These are really cool! What a great idea!

    I saw your link at 504 Main!

  • Jenn Erickson June 24, 2011, 5:43 pm

    Wow! They came out beautifully! I can't believe the level of detail that the plaster picked up.

    So glad I saw your link-up at Hodgepodge Life!

    Jenn/Rook No. 17

  • Vivienne @ the V Spot June 24, 2011, 4:54 pm

    Genius. But I am learning to expect nothing less from you. :)

  • Maja June 24, 2011, 4:19 pm

    wow… they are simply beautiful

  • Tanya @ Greetings From the Asylum June 24, 2011, 4:13 pm

    What a great idea! I love how you used the rolled-up newspaper to create movement with your leaves! Thanks for sharing!

  • Threeundertwo June 24, 2011, 2:46 pm

    I love this! What a beautiful project. I have an elephant-ear plant too. Thanks so much for linking up to Finished for Friday.

  • lynne June 24, 2011, 2:24 pm

    Those came out GREAT!!!! Love the final look.

  • Angela June 24, 2011, 2:14 pm

    I love this project! Will you share this at my Blog Party Simply Creative? I'd love it if you did!!

    http://365days2simplicity.blogspot.com/2011/06/simply-creative-blog-party-2.html

  • Johnnie June 24, 2011, 2:05 pm

    Any time my project supply list includes something I can get from my yard, I am happy :) Cool idea.

  • Thrifty Crafty Girl June 24, 2011, 1:37 pm

    I love this. And I love the words 'Plaster of Paris'. Well done!

  • NJ June 24, 2011, 12:44 pm

    Suzy these are lovely! :)

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