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Sharring experiences in urban infrastructure delivery.
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Leaves Stamped in Concrete

By: Tom Davis Category: Sidewalk Features

One day we were talking about the gaps in the row of trees planned for Dallas Street due underground obstructions and wishing there was a way to continue the theme.CIMG0037.JPG The project architect wanted to continue the theme of the concrete squares and we also wanted to carry on the tree/leaf theme.  I recalled leaves stamped into the concrete sidewalk around trees in Vancouver when we were there for the International Downtown Association conference. That quickly lead to speculation about how to create the stamp of a leaf. 

Anton Sinkewich of the District’s staff knew how a stamp could be made. He brought in containers of a rubberized material and a fast hardening plastic from a hobby craft store. Stamp and Mold.jpgAfter a quick trip to Preston St.–where we had added many Mexican Sycamores–provide sample leaves and “craft-time” began. He tried various techniques of making the rubberized mold using the leaves. Once he had one he liked the plastic was poured in and a wooden dowel inserted in the back to serve as a handle. In a few minutes the plastic was hard and he had a leaf stamp.

We were pouring replacement sidewalk nearby so he took the stamp and tried it. Repeated attempts as the concrete “set up” showed that the grout the finishers work to create the final surface must be “tight” i.e., firm.  But, the distinctive impression we wanted was not achieved.CIMG0482.JPG The stamp was a good replication of the leaf but it did not achieve a distinct, easily visible impression.

We realized the relief in a leaf is not deep enough to leave noticeable lines in the course surface of the sand in the concrete.  So, back at the office Anton took an Exacto knife and carved in deeper veins and cast a new stamp. This time it worked and we now have year-round leaves around the trees as well as in the concrete squares where there are no trees on Dallas St.

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