Making a Leaf Casting with Waterproof Paper Mache Clay

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Experiments with the new weatherproof paper mache clay recipe continue…

This leaf casting is made with the new weatherproof (cement-based) paper mache clay recipe.

After it’s cured and painted, the leaf (and its toad) will go out in my garden. I’ll leave it there through the winter so we can see how well it holds up in the rain and snow. I really want this to work, so let’s all keep our fingers crossed.

(What happened to that rabbit I said I wanted to make? It’s still on my list, but I thought an easier project made more sense for my first sculpture with this weatherproof recipe. I will make that rabbit – and I might make the turtle, too. Just not this week ๐Ÿ™‚ )

I used a squash leaf for a mold. I didn’t want to test this new material to see if it would work as a birdbath, so I flattened it to make sure it wouldn’t fill up with water.

squash leaf for casting
Squash leaf used for casting.
Making a Leaf Casting with Waterproof Paper Mache Clay
Finished casting, before painting.

I used the recipe on this page that includes the drywall joint compound. I haven’t tried the recipe that leaves out the joint compound, so I don’t know if it would work for a leaf casting or not. If you try it, please let us know.

Also let us know if you have any ideas for naming this material. It’s hard for me to keep saying “weatherproof paper mache clay.” There has to be a better name for it. As I mentioned in the video, I’m leaning towards ‘papercrete mache,’ but I’m not sure that’s the best option. Let me know what you think in the comments below. ๐Ÿ™‚

And now, we wait (that’s the hard part!) for the leaf to be completely cured. It still isn’t as hard as it will be, and the curing process takes time. We simply can’t rush it.

In the meantime, I’ll finish the toad and show you how he turns out in the next video. When they’re fully cured the leaf and toad will be sealed and painted.

This is not a fast way to make a sculpture because of the long curing time, but if they survive a Minnesota winter, it will be worth it. Fingers crossed! ๐Ÿ™‚

35 thoughts on “Making a Leaf Casting with Waterproof Paper Mache Clay”

    • Hi Pat. Yes, I used Magic Sculpt, an epoxy clay. It’s easier to get it to go around thin wires than paper mache is, and I thought it might be less likely to break. But then I decided to make the leaf, so the epoxy clay was probably not needed. Oh well. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Maybe, but it wasn’t difficult to get the leaf off – and the release might stick to the cement mixture and make it difficult to paint. I haven’t tried it, though, so I don’t really know if it would be a good idea or not.

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  1. Sorry, no idea for a name that hasn’t already been suggested but I have a suggestion for the glue to adhere the toad to the leaf….gorilla glue. A few years ago, I was transporting one of my Pal Tiya Premium sculptures to an art show. It was a very large frog, about 2 1/2 feet long. In handling it, I broke off one of the toes!!! It was a surprise as Pal Tiya is extremely strong and I panicked as it was due to be in the show! I ran to the nearest Target and got the strongest glue they had which was gorilla glue. Ran back and repaired the toe, then later came back with paints and varnish to touch up if neccessary. All without letting the organizers of the show know of the mishap! ( they might have pulled the piece) Well, I’m happy to report that it worked like a charm! The piece did not sell so it has been home here for a few years and I can’t even tell which toe it was!
    I would glue it prior to painting so that the porous nature of the clay works with the glue rather than adhering it to smooth, plastic like paint. This will make painting a bit more difficult but will be worth it in the end.

    Reply
    • Now that you mention it, I used the construction version of Gorilla Glue when I made the blue footed boobies, but I didn’t even think about using it for the toad and his leaf! Now I’m glad I didn’t go out and buy anything new. I think I even have some of the regular Gorilla Glue here in the house. I used the construction glue for another project recently (getting ready for the installation of my new wood stove) but I have some left. Thanks for the idea!!!

      Reply
  2. Greetings from Australia, Jonni.
    I always look forward to your posts. I agree that the title ‘Outdoor Mache’ says it all. Good luck with the toad/leaf/weather experiment. I really do hope it will be the answer to future mache’ garden art.

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    • Thanks, Jane! And yes, I have high hopes for this stuff. I just finished the toad (except for painting it) and it was so much fun using this new material. I think I like it even better than the original paper mache clay recipe. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • That is one of the three that I have on my final list. I asked for a vote today when I put up the latest post about sculpting the toad, and I’ll choose the name that gets the most votes. Thanks for the idea! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • I really liked that idea, but someone mentioned that it’s trademarked or patented or something. I don’t know if that means we really can’t use it, but I decided to look for another name. I still think it was a good idea, though. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. I have a couple pieces started with this new recipe. They are curing now.
    How about โ€œoutdoor macheโ€ for a name?

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    • Also, you may want to put a drainage hole in your leaf for any water that accumulates. I need to do that for my hippoโ€™s ears.
      Could you use some of the โ€œoutdoor mache clayโ€ to attach the frog to his leaf?

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    • Thanks for the idea, Terry. It’s one of three names that I hope people will vote on, and I’ll pick the one that gets the most votes. I asked in my latest post about the toad, which just went online a few minutes ago. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. What about wpc recipe
    That’s easy. Try to put 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid in your mix. It’s supposed to make cement as hard as rock. ?

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    • That’s a nice name, but I think it’s very close to a name that will be used in an upcoming book by Lee Bell, a sculptor who does a lot of outdoor work. I’m really looking forward to reading her book! She has way more experience and knowledge about cement-based materials than I do. Thanks for the idea, though. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  5. I refer to Paper Mache Clay as PMC….it’s quicker and people know what you are talking about since PMC is what you do. Then you can simply add a qualifier term Weatherproof PMC; Original PMC; Ultimate PMC, etc. We know the basis for your work is PMC as long as in your written material you put that in ( ) after Paper Mache Clay (PMC) we know what it is….the important term is the word that designates and describes the specific PMC you are using at the time. Just a thought.

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  6. Hi Joni I have been reading your emails and posts for years now but have not done any projects due to the fact I canโ€™t put them in me garden. Wellโ€ฆ.. now I am starting a shade garden and want to add garden art and you and your wonderful followers have created a possible product that survives weather!! I can hardly wait to see how your frog ( my favorite garden art) survives the winter.
    Joni, I so appreciate your commitment to your craft and to your followers. I always smile every time I see a post from you. I read it and put it in my file called Joni. Keep up the great work and know you are loved and appreciated!? Wendy Miller PS. I am completing your form again but I am already in your system.

    Reply
    • Hi Wendy. A shade garden sounds wonderful, and some sculptures would definitely be a nice addition. Keep your fingers crossed for us – the toad is now finished except for painting it and sticking it onto the leaf, so the outdoor part of the experiment should happen very soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Thanks, Pat. The toad is now ready to be painted and I posted him today. I asked everyone to vote on one of three names for the stuff, and one of the names is very close to your idea – paper cement clay. It will be fun seeing what people vote on. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
    • As Avril mentioned, we probably can’t use that name. I picked three possibilities for us to vote on, and one of them is really similar – paper cement clay. The toad’s post is where we’ll be voting, and it just went online a few minutes ago. It will be interesting to see which one gets picked by the most people. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply

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