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ames269usa 11-08-2006 09:36 AM

Any Ideas...Giant leaves?
I am creating giant leaves that will be suspended from steel framing in a local restaurant. The leaves need to be around 4'-7'. The material I want to use needs to be a light density paper or the illusion that the leaves are suspended in mid air. I am currently considering a couple materials: brown craft paper, cheese cloth w/fabric stiffener, or rice paper. However, I can't find rice paper large enough to get the job done. Anyone have suggestions on the best way to create these leaf sculptures that I haven't thought of, or a better way of creating them with the ideas I've posted?

cooljamesx1 11-08-2006 04:09 PM

Re: Giant leaves
this is kind of outside of the ideas you posted but I think it would be cool if you hammered them out of big sheets of aluminum.

Berinje' 11-10-2006 04:53 AM

Re: Giant leaves
Yes, Cooljam, I like your idea also, because the leaves would certainly last a lot longer if they were aluminum, yet they would still be relatively light weight. And certainly all kinds of surface treatment could be created on them, i.e., from different patinas, to etching or scribing, to bending, polishing or burnishing, etc. They could be very beautiful and luminuous.

I just love creativity!

HappySculpting 11-10-2006 12:14 PM

Re: Giant leaves
Hi ames,

Here's a link to a bluebird sculpture that shows leaves that have been made from brass sheeting. It must be very thin sheeting because the leaves and also the petals of the flowers are so delicate. What you are doing is large scale but the same concept can be used for your project. Maybe aluminum sheeting would be lighter though.


F.C. White 11-10-2006 08:16 PM

Re: Giant leaves
Sheets of cheese cloth and fiberglass strands and resin. Once sanded smooth one could detail in an abundance of detail on their surface and air brush them to look real. Forms to lay/stretch the fabric on could easily be done in scrap plywood. Leaves like this could be made quite large and still be quite light enough to suspend with spider wire fishing line.

fused 11-11-2006 01:50 PM

Re: Giant leaves
I don't see materials like aluminum, brass or fiberglas conforming to the "needs to be a light density paper or fabric" as stated in the first post. An armature/frame could be made of either metal or wood and covered with rip stop nylon. The RSN is used for parachutes (softer, fabriclike and plyable) and sails (stiffer like ultra-thin plastic) is strong yet lightweight, comes in all colors (opaque/translucent), available in large dimensions and UV safe.

WeiMingKai 11-13-2006 04:35 PM

Re: Giant leaves
I would begin by googling up faux flowers, artificial plants, and finding out what the nylon/rayon/paper/silk like material used for those.

This page has a history of Faux Floral arts as well as a description of the manufacturing process. If you read how they are made you will get a lot of ideas for what you can and can't do based on how much time and money you plan to expend on yoru project. IE; you will most likely not be paying to have leaf shape dies custom machined for you out of tool steel (and you most likely don't have a die press to use them on either) BUT you could trace/draw your leaf shapes onto cardboard and cut them out for use as master patterns.-->

I am always cheap by necessity, not choice, so my thinking always seeks a lowest cost approach to the problem.
  1. make a wire armature for your branches and stems (make sure it can support the weight of the leaves)
  2. cut out leaf patterns from paper or cloth (paint them if necessary)
  3. glue up your leaves & fix them to the armature
  4. let dry and then 'pose' the plant to appear realistic

A craft supply stores often have faux flowers/silk flowers pre-made - you could always buy a sample and 'dissect' it to see how it was done.

PS: instead of rice paper - how about the tissue paper used for wrapping shirts/clothes in department stores - if you went 2 ply on the wrapping tissue and applied greatly thinned glue with a spray bottle between the plys you could probably get reasonalby strong results - or you could mix materials - cheesecloth 'mesh' bonded to tissue 'filler' over wire support might yield a nice translucent leaf.

Good Luck

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