leaf casting with recycled paper pulp
Several weeks ago I made a paper casting of one of my 36 inch elephant ear leaves, and I am so thrilled with how it turned out. (Unlike the elephant ear I tried to press!) Using recycled paper pulp (discarded printer paper paper I shredded, soaked, and blended), I placed the leaf vein side up on a mound of sand in our sandbox, and carefully applied about a 1/2 layer of the pulp.
I mixed some sand into the pulp to enhance the texture, and in order to make the paper casting rigid, I added several tablespoons of carboxymethylcellulose. "CMC", which reportedly "promotes fiber to fiber bonding and gives needed strength to paper castings", and I'm happy to say it worked! My leaf turned out extremely strong and rigid, and my kids insist that I've created a fossil.
I haven't painted it yet - I'm almost afraid to, because I'm afraid of ruining it. Maybe one of these days I'll get brave.