How to Make a Plaster Leaf Tray
This project can get messy; be sure to protect your work area with a drop cloth.
This project requires your full attention. Have your materials ready and choose a time to do it when you'll have minimal distractions.
The plaster thickens quickly and the less water/glue mixture you have to add to it, the better.
- 2 cups plaster of Paris
- 2 cups cold water
- 2/3 cup white school glue
- 4 or 5 large silk leaves (hosta or tropical leaves)
- 4 or 5 small silk leaves
- spray matte sealant
- skirt hangers or clothespins for drying
- painter's tape
- drop cloth
- very fine-grit sandpaper
Coat Leaves With Glue
Mix 1 cup of water and 1/3 cup of glue together. Prepare another bowl with the remaining water and glue and set aside to use as needed. Using your fingers, apply a thin coat of school glue to each side of the large leaves.
Dip Leaves in Plaster
Place 2 cups of plaster in a deep container. Add one batch of water and glue mixture and mix until smooth and creamy (Image 1). Dip each large leaf fully into the wet plaster (Image 2). Gently shake off excess and clip the leaves onto a hanger with the points facing down. Pull the sides slightly together to create a bit of a fold in the leaf and allow leaves to dry. Prevent remaining wet plaster from drying out by covering with plastic wrap.
Arrange the dried leaves to form a tray by overlapping the sides. Hold them together temporarily with painter's tape (Image 1). Stir the wet plaster and fill a wide narrow bowl about three-quarters full. Gently press the smaller leaves into the plaster then arrange them in the center of the tray to cover up where the large leaves meet. Carefully pour a bit more plaster into the center of the smaller leaves, making sure it fills in the crevices (Image 2). Allow tray to dry completely (a day or day and a half depending on how much water you've added to the mixture). Using a very fine-grit sandpaper, smooth any imperfections or bumps, then dust off any loose plaster and spray both sides of the tray with matte sealant. Fill your finished tray with seasonal items, like a rustic candle and acorns for fall (Image 3).