The first leaves used for this project were gathered from a field in Greene County, NC near Walstonburg. Only green leaves will work as a cured leaf will disintegrate. I went out with Chuck & Joy Field and we picked some leaves of various sizes to use for this project. Later I gathered a second group of leaves from Joni and Tim Wilson from their farm near Saratoga, NC.
First I create a 1/4 to 1/2″ clay slab. Then the green tobacco leaf is pressed into the clay. The outside of the leaf is cut into shape and then the leaf is formed into the desired shape. The form is then covered in plastic and placed in a repurposed small greenhouse to dry very slowly!
Below are the pictures of the forms drying before they were placed in the small greenhouse. I’ll post additional pictures as they progress through the process.
Green leaves of various sizes from Eastern NC Tobacco fields:
A 1/2 – 1/4 inch Slab of Clay is rolled out. I’m using Speckled Brown Highwater Clay from Asheville, NC.
Getting impressions of the leaves into the clay. There is plastic between the leaves and the clay and then I put more plastic over the leaves once situated. Then I use the roller shown in the picture to carefully get the impression of the leaves.
The leaf impressions in the clay.
Cutting the leaves out of clay.
Leaves are then placed on the drying rack or in a small greenhouse and covered in plastic to dry very slowly to avoid cracks. The larger the leaf is the more susceptible to cracks it will be.
After drying to bone dry for several weeks they leaves are placed in the kiln and
will be bisque fired to Cone 06 or just over 1800 degrees.
The first kiln load of tobacco leaf trays is out of the kiln. Now on to glazing! Here is what they look like now!
First trials with glazing and getting the color right. The one on the left is called “caramel” and the one on the right is called “chiffon”. Although I like the shape of the leaf on the left, the color of the one on the left seems to be more in line with Eastern NC Cured Tobacco. More to come… keep watching!
Had another leaf come from the kiln. Very happy with the glaze colors on this one. Will be doing the rest like this one.
Here are 3 of the glaze trials. Definitely like the middle leaf the best!
Due to the time limitations for obtaining green tobacco leaves, I made some silicon molds of some of the leaves I collected over the summer. Below are some examples of these leaves.
Gallery of Tobacco Leaves done over the past few years.