I needed to make some lamb’s ear and dusty miller leaves for a client recently.
Both of those types of leaves are silvery and fuzzy, so I thought I’d put some type of ground-up royal icing or other fuzz-producing effect on them.
But then I went out to get a lamb’s ear leaf from my garden to look at it, and it wasn’t fuzzy, it was hairy.
That presented a problem, because the next four samples that I tried to make using the “fuzzy” methods I had anticipated using weren’t right.
I finally decided that the best way to get the illusion of “hairy” was to do a texture.
The sample that I made with that goal in mind looked pretty good…My daughter walked by, looked at it and said “hey! It’s lamb’s ear!”
Then I kept glancing at it throughout the day and would think that it was a real one each time.
I sent them to the customer and she liked them so much she bought more.
She said that they really did look soft, so this ends up being a visual illusion that works.
It’s not hairy, obviously, but it does give the visual effect of being hairy.
You want the combination of texture and depth, which you can get by scoring the surface of the paste and applying powder colors.
How to make and color the leaves.
Start with a lighter-colored leaf, and cut them out fairly thick (about 1/16″).
Put the leaf in a texture press to start the veining process.
Using the tip of a sharp knife, make a bunch of uneven cuts in the leaf to simulate the texture that the hairs on the surface would have.
It helps to have one so that you can see which direction the hair grows in, since it’s different on each side of the center vein.
Press the back of the knife into the center vein to deepen it.
Brush the leaf with a deeper green to match the part of the leaf that’s under the silvery hairs. Do this all over the leaf so that some of the darker color gets into the cuts and the veining.
Using your finger, not a brush, gently rub some silvery powder onto the surface of the leaf. You don’t want it to go into the veins.
Finish by brushing pearl dust around the edge of the leaf.
And there you have it.
You can do the same thing for the dusty miller leaves, but use an oak leaf cutter and paler grey paste to begin with, or a fern cutter, depending on what variety of leaf you’re looking for.