Just as the name implies, the elephant ear plant produces deeply veined, heart-shaped leaves that can grow to be the size of an elephant's ear. Although these leaves have a sturdy, leathery texture, they begin to wilt like any other leaf once they have been cut from the main stalk of the plant. But you can preserve an elephant ear leaf, and at the same time make a decorative birdbath for your yard or garden by making a mold of the leaf's shape and then casting it in cement. A cement birdbath made from elephant ears makes a tropical addition to any garden.
Make a pile of sand with a large mound in the center to support your leaf, as if you were making a sand castle. The pile of sand should be large enough that your large elephant ear leaf is surrounded by a 2 inch margin of sand all the way around the leaf border. Wet the sand with water until it is as damp as a wrung out sponge to make it stick together. This will help the sand keep its shape and support the weight of the leaf and cement.
Select an elephant ear leaf that is large enough to serve as a birdbath. The leaf should almost completely cover your sand pile. Cut the stem at the base of the leaf, leaving just a couple of inches of stem.
Cover the surface of the sand with a dry-cleaner bag. This will keep the sand from sticking to the cement when you pour the cement onto the leaf. Turn the elephant ear plant face down and place it onto the surface of the plastic dry-cleaning bag. Gently curve the leaf around the sand mount to create a bowl shape with the leaf.
Cut a 2 inch section from the end of a tubular cement form using a utility knife. Then trim the chicken wire so that it is the size and shape of the leaf.
Pull on a pair of gloves and a mask for breathing protection before mixing cement. This will protect your skin from irritation and keep you from breathing the cement dust. Pour cement into a 5 gallon bucket. Add water and mix with a trowel until the cement is the consistency of a mud pie.
Scoop cement from the bucket and place it into the center of the leaf. Spread the mixture outward from the center of the leaf to the edges as if you were kneading dough. Keep the mixture even as you spread it and try not to tear the leaf. Cover the entire leaf with an ample layer of cement that covers the veins.
Once the leaf is covered, place a layer of chicken wire over the cement and press the wire into the surface. Then cover with another layer of cement. Center the 2 inch ring that you cut from the concrete ring form over the curve of the leaf bowl. Fill the ring with cement to create a surface to attach to a pedestal. Cover with the second dry-cleaner bag and allow to dry for 48 hours.
Lift the leaf from the sand and turn it over. Peel back the plastic wrap and remove the leaf from the cement. Scrub away any leaf bits that stick to the cement with a wire bristled brush. Turn the cement bowl over and peel away the cardboard ring. Allow the cement to dry and cure for a week before using.