Decorative Garden Table Top

Martha Stewart
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The broad leaves of elephant’s ear lend a breezy, tropical feel to this hypertufa tabletop. The greenery is arranged on a Plexiglas base before the mold is filled. Sand stirred into the mixture and a hidden layer of mesh supply the necessary reinforcement.

Materials

  • Portland cement
  • Peat moss
  • Perlite
  • Builder’s sand
  • Wheelbarrow or tub to mix above materials in
  • 4 cup plastic measure cup
  • Mason’s trowel for mixing
  • Rubber mallet
  • Wire snips
  • Four 4”X1” spring clamps
  • Drill with driver bit
  • ¼”X1” wood fasteners
  • Garden Shears
  • Plastic garbage bag
  • Facemask respirator
  • Rubber work gloves
  • Mold release spray
  • Spray adhesive
  • 24” sq piece of Plexiglass
  • ¼” hardware cloth cut to 22” square piece
  • One 5’ length of 2” wide furring strip, cut into four 26” long pieces
  • Garden hose with trigger nozzle attachment

How-to

  • Choose a selection of broad leaves from garden plants such as elephant ears, philodendron, hosta, or rhododendron. Vary the sizes for a sophisticated look.
  • Using spray adhesive, mount leaves (textured-side up) onto Plexiglas in desired pattern, securing the stems as well.
  • Align two lengths of furring strip to meet at a corner of the first and secure in place with a spring clamp, leaving a 2” over hang at the corner.
  • Using drill, secure with 2 wood screws into the corner. Repeat, securing remaining 3 wood pieces to make the frame sides.
  • Align frame side at bottom-left corner of Plexiglas, with 2-inch piece facing out. Coat mold interior with mold-release spray.
  • Use facemask respirator and rubber gloves while mixing together 8 quarts of perlite, 8 quarts of peat, and 8 quarts of Portland cement in a wheelbarrow or shallow tub. (note; 4 cups make 1 quart)
  • Add water gradually until the mix has the consistency of yogurt. Mix thoroughly with mason trowel to ensure there are not dry pockets.
  • Pour 1” layer of mix into frame. Tap exterior gently with rubber mallet to level mixture.
  • Lay mesh hardware cloth on top of mixture, centering it.
  • Mix 2 quarts of sand into remaining mixture, and pour it on top of hardware cloth.
  • Tap exterior again with rubber mallet to level. Cover entire surface with plastic bag.
  • Let set for 36 hours. Remove bag and then gently remove mold by taking out wood fasteners and carefully pulling away frame sides.
  • Flip tabletop over and gently pull away Plexiglas.
  • Gently remove embedded leaves from hypertufa slab. Try using the point of a utility knife blade or tweezers to lift and stubborn remaining piece of leaf.
  • Wrap it with plastic, and let cure for several weeks (a month is best).

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