Nature is my church- so when I enter the bower of my sacred forest, I like to take with me simple, easy to transport supplies for ritual. One of my must haves is a small, portable altar that looks lovely, keeps everything together and ensures I'm not catching the local flora on fire.
They can also be used as part of your home or garden altars- and if you choose to give your leaf a 'cupped,' shape, they can be used as containers for your crystals or other magickal supplies- you are only limited to your imagination! A word of caution- these are not intended to be used for food- nor are they dishwasher or microwave safe. That being said- here's how to make them!
Altar Leaves Supply List
This will make two 6x8 inch (ish) leaves
4-5 parts fast drying cement (I'm using Rapid Set Cement All)
1 part water
Acrylic craft paint (your choice of color- I like brown or black to give it an aged patina)
1"-2" soft-bristle paintbrush
Some kind of sealer to protect your creation- (I am using Modge Podge for this demonstration- but a nice spray-on sealer works great)
A bag of sand
Plastic garbage liners
Fresh leaves (Leaves that work best are cabbage, hosta, rhubarb, pumpkin, elephant ear, gourd, cucumber, fig- basically any leaf that has good veining and a lot of substance so it can hold up to the casting process)
In my photo you will notice a mole hill. This is not only a demonstration of a fun project- but a lesson on how to take life's lemons and make lemonade. Mole hills in my yard are not a favorite of mine- but I'm going to be utilizing them to help mold my leaf castings. If I didn't have mole hills in my yard to use for this project, I would be laying out a garbage liner and using the sand from the supply list to mound on top.
When shaping your mound, keep in mind that this will determine the inside slope of your leaf. If you want it cupped (like a traditional leaf casting for a bird bath) you will want a rounder mound. If you are a making a flatter casting to use as a small altar, flatten out the mound. I like to give it a slight curve because it looks more natural.
After you have formed your mound, place another plastic liner on top. Place the leaf so the underside of the leaf is showing.
Put on gloves and mix the rapid drying cement and water a little at a time until you get a brownie-batter consistency.
We are working with quick drying cement- so you will want to work quickly. Start pressing the cement on the center of the leaf making it about 1/2" thick and tapering down to about 1/4" .
Let your leaf set for about 30 minutes to dry. When it feels solid, lift up from the mound and gently peel away the leaf. Let cure for 24 hours.
After it has cured for 24 hours, Use a 1 or 2" soft bristle paintbrush to paint the entire surface of the leaf. Make sure to really press the paint into the veins. Now quickly use a damp rag to wipe off the surface of your leaf. We are wanting to give it an aged appearance- so leave paint in the veins and on the edges. Remember- you don't have to use this painting technique- Be creative. When you are finished painting your leaf- let dry completely.
Use a brush on or spray on sealer to give your creation a little extra protection.
Bless it in your own way and enjoy.