I started creating captured leaves back in Nebraska. We had an Empress Tree in the backyard – they don’t flower in Nebraska, so the energy creates huge leaves, some spanning as much as 30″ wide. The challenge of casting such a large leaf drew my attention, and I was able to successfully cast three large leaves, the largest about 24″ wide.
The process of casting leaves begins with a walk in the park, or forest. I am always studying the subtle colors and textures while looking for leaves that have strong qualities and markings that will carry over to the molds, which I enhance by patiently carving the details a little deeper to hold the glass powders. From there, I sift, push, paint and sift more glass powder until the mold is filled. And then it is fired in the kiln to about 1300f. Most leaves will be fired 2-3 times. The first sets the glass. The second firing I enhance the shape and pull out more of the color by draping it over refractory material. The third firing will create a glossy surface on both sides of the leaf.
Because the leaves are delicate, I have found that they are best displayed behind a frame. The larger leaves are framed professionally, mounted to a board and placed behind acrylic. The smaller leaves are mounted within an all-acrylic shadowbox. Occasionally I place leaves into other forms to create vessels.