Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Concrete Creations (and not just stepping stones!)

One 80 pound bag of concrete, a few days, some household items and some imagination is all you need to make some stepping stones, mosaic tiles, personalized bricks, tic-tac-toe game board and a bowl to keep the tokens safe, sturdy watering bowl for the neighborhood dog, butterfly baths, and even some vases!

Cost:  Will vary depending on what you want to use.  
Time:  Each peice needs at least 24 hours to dry.
Task:  EASY


 1. This is an outdoor only project!!! DO NOT use your indoor sinks/plumbing for this project either before, during, or after. Use an outdoor water source because you do not want to have a concrete dry and clog up your plumbing inside your home. Reread #1.

 2. Wear old clothes! The oil will splatter for sure, no matter how careful you are. Trust me.

 3. Read warnings on your cement bag. They may suggest using a mask because of the dust. (I grabbed a mask at my last doctors appointment but they do sell them at Home Depot and the like.)

 4. The cement bag may also suggest you wear gloves (Grab a few at your next doctor appointment or they do sell these at the dollar stores, Walmart, Home Depot, etc.)

 5. Remove all rings and bracelets due to the cement that could scratch your jewelry and the oil... It would be bad if your ring slipped off into a concrete stepping stone and you didn't realize it until it's too late.

 6. Moisture is NOT your bag o' concrete's friend. Get some friends to create with you or make sure you have several items to serve as molds and use up the concrete within a week or so. Store in cool, dry place. I was able to make many projects with one 80 pound bag of concrete… And only had one project failure that was the size of a small coffee can.

From one bag, I made: 
9 square stepping stones,
3 round stepping stones,
4 small butterfly bowls,
1 long brick stepping stone,
1 tall vase,
2 shorter vases,
1 block watering bowl...

21 projects... 

 $6 or so for bag of concrete (in photo below)

Various stepping stone molds bought at craft store (use a 40% off coupon on each). Less than $4 each. I like the more sturdy plastic ones (dark squares in photo) vs the super cheap, flimsy plastic molds. Can reuse forever.

 Various bowls, containers and a broken dinner plate from around the house.

 Long wooden or plastic spoon for mixing concrete.

An old washcloth and towel. (Throw these away when done with your concrete projects. DO NOT WASH IN YOUR WASHING MACHINE! THROW AWAY.)

 $1 each bag of glass pebbles and decorative stones (have leftovers) - Not in above pic.

 $2.50 bag of glass mosaic pieces (still have a lot left). Used a 40% off coupon. (In photo below.)

Vegetable oil from my kitchen (I also used vegetable cooking spray with success. And I also used Vaseline and spread it out in a thin coating but that tended to be more messy and left a thick Vaseline residue on all concrete pieces.) I like using the vegetable oil the best and is probably the cheapest as well. .

** Please Note: All bowls, spoons, etc. that you use for concrete should now be dedicated to concrete or gardening. Do not wash and then use for food.**

Get ALL of your supplies outside and ready to go.  The old bath towel is if you need to move your concrete pieces inside due to weather while they are drying, lay them on the towel .  Even when you wait 24 hours and remove your piece from its mold, it may still be damp and need another 24 hours to dry.  Let it sit on the towel.

Glass beads of different shapes, sizes and colors - the kind that are flat on the bottom and oval on top, mosaic pieces, plastic letters to stamp into concrete, bowl to put your dry concrete in (so you don't have to drag around the 80 pound bag) and a bowl with warm tap water from your kitchen sink TO TAKE OUTSIDE.

This is the 80 pound bag of concrete I bought at Home Depot.  It had little stones in it.  I almost took it back and return for the concrete mix that does NOT have any stones in it but honestly, I didn't want to deal with 80 pounds of dead weight so I tried it...  It worked great!!  So go for the mix that doesn't have stones in it or try with the small pebbles, like I did.

Gloves are suggested when working with concrete.  A mask is also suggested ALTHOUGH I WOULD SAY IT IS MANDATORY WHEN WORKING WITH CONCRETE DUST.  Your health and safety should always be #1.  You can get these at your next doctor appointment or Walmart, Home Depot, etc. sell them.

So all of your supplies are outside and close to an outdoor water source (water spicket).   Using vegetable oil, generously pour some in your containers (molds, bowls).  Make sure to get the sides and in any nooks or crannies.  Discard any extra oil in another bowl to use for other molds.  You don't have to make sure every last drop is out.  A little more is better than not enough.  This will ensure your concrete releases in 24 hours.

One large bucket on the left has a bunch of concrete mix I scooped out of the 80 pound bag that is staying in my garage.  The middle bucket is where I will mix the concrete and warm water, using an old wooden or plastic spoon.  The bowl on the right is filled with warm tap water from my kitchen.  Concrete likes warm water to set...  not too cold... not hot.

Have a dedicated mixing bowl allows you to add more water or more concrete if you mess up.  I can't really give you a ratio because it will all depend on how big or deep your mold or bowl is for whatever project you're doing.  A tip is that you have some time before the concrete starts to set.  So if you don't mix enough to make a stepping stone, you can quickly mix a little more and put on top of you want you already poured into your mold.  THAT'S why you want all of your supplies close by.  Here I used a bit too much water, so I'll be able to put in a little more mix.

This is just right.  There is some water that is still visible.  You want a lumpy pancake mix consistency. 

*Tip:  When you pour it into your mold and if a lot of water or even vegetable oil rises to the top, that's when you can use your old washcloth and lay it on top and let it absorb the extra liquid.

I mixed up my concrete with water, poured it into my oiled up mold (for a stepping stone).  Now I'm going to gentle tap it on the sidewalk several times.  This is why you want to wear old clothes.  Oil or concrete may spatter up or around you.  You want to tap out the air bubbles.  Gently tap maybe 10 - 15 times.

Tapped it and you can see the tiny air bubbles coming to the surface and the concrete leveled itself.  Now you set this aside for 24 HOURS.  It will be tempting to remove from the mold sooner BUT DON'T.  You will run the risk of it breaking into pieces, the edges getting crumbly and being upset.  (I speak from experience.)  Patience Grasshopper.  End results at the bottom of this tutorial.

Here is a round, flimsy stepping stone mold my daughter got in one of those boxed kid projects.  The other side had butterflies and flower design.  End results will follow toward the end of this tutorial.  :)

THESE WILL BE BUTTERFLY BATHS...  OR BEE BATHS.  VERY SHALLOW BOWLS TO FILL WITH WATER FOR THE INSECTS TO DRINK FROM.  (Or as you will see further down, they will also hold some game pieces.)

The outer bowl is an old plastic bowl my daughter used for cereal.  We have many so thought she won't miss one.  Fill it half way with concrete, tap out the bubbles and to level.  THEN, I found this small porcelain plate so I oiled up the underside of it and pressed it in so it's level.  I had to put some rocks in it to keep it secure and not pop up as the concrete was drying.  Every 30 minutes or so for a few hours, I would gently turn the porcelain plate a quarter turn.  This ensures it won't get stuck in the concrete.  Make sure you oiled up the bottom. Leave it for 24 hours  to dry. Patience is your friend.  End results at the bottom of this tutorial.

On the left is a brick mold and on the right is the round stepping stone.  You can see there is a lot of water/oil that came to the surface after I tapped out the air bubbles and leveled them...

Take your handy-dandy old washcloth and lay it on top of your mold.  Gently let it touch and suck up the water/oil.  You might have to do this a couple of times.  It won't hurt your project.  It will speed along the drying.  I'll explain the round bowl within the bowl below..

My daughter putting in some pretty glass pieces.  (Bought these at Hobby Lobby and used a 40% off coupon.)  End results at the bottom of this tutorial.

Here I am making a short, stubby vase.  I want something I can leave outside on my dining room table, not get broken, and not tip over.  Oil up the inner container (this was an old water pitcher when I was in the hospital years ago, minus the lid.) Scoop in a little concrete for the base.  Then add the inner plastic cup that also has oil on the outside of it.  Carefully place concrete all around the inner cup.  Added some stones and beads to keep it from popping up while it dries.  Leave it alone for 24 hours.

Top view.  Leaving outside in the full sun to dry for 24 hours.  Every 30 minutes or so, gently turn the inner cup a 1/4 turn so assure it is not sticking.  Do this for a few hours.  I set the timer on my iphone.  *TIP:  If it's going to rain, bring your concrete pieces in while they are curing (drying).  Rain and wet concrete is not a great combo.

After 24 hours and many times rotating the inner cup, remove the inner cup and let sit in the full sun another day to dry.  

Beautiful concrete vase!!  Ready for water and flowers...  But wait.  I made one before this beauty and I didn't wait long enough.  It broke into three pieces...  See picture below.

I used some sealer that is for boat leaks and sealed the pieces back together.  But no mater how much putty I put on it, it had little leaks.  And now it was ugly and bumpy.  I finally painted my broken one a metalic purple.  Then I hot glued some marble gems all over the top and sides.

This is not for the person who likes perfection.  This is a random glue job.  Just go with it...

Keep the glue gun on and ready to go...  Now I had some grout laying around and with my fingers, just smeared grout in between all of the glass marbles.  A few marbles fell off during this process but I just hot glued them back into place and pushed onward with the grout.

Be sure to get in all of the nooks and crannies.  If you miss a spot, you can go back after a while and add more grout.

All grouted.  The directions said to wait 4 hours and then wipe off the beads (tiles).  But I was nervous and was afraid it wouldn't easily wipe off the beads, so I took a regular kitchen sponge and using a bucket of warm water, would gently wipe the top of the beads, squezing out my sponge after a couple of passes.  *TIP:  BE SURE TO DUMP OUT  THE BUCKET OF WATER YOU USE FOR THE GROUT OUTSIDE.  DO NOT PUT THIS WATER AND GROUT STUFF DOWN YOUR SINK OR INDOOR PLUMBING!!

I love how you can see the metallic purple paint under the beads.  The paint was just an acrylic paint that Walmart sells in 4 ounce bottles for under a dollar.  End results with flowers at the bottom on this tutorial.

Now for a tall concrete vase!  Use an soda bottle (or water bottle but make sure it's sturdy plastic), Cut off and throw away the top portion.  Feel free to remove the label.

OIL the inside of the soda bottle very well.  Dump out remaining.  Spoon in some concrete and tap a few times.  

I found an old PVC pipe and oiled up the INSIDE AND OUTSIDE of it.  Gently put in the center, being careful NOT to push it into the base concrete you just scooped in.  Give it a few taps to remove air bubbles and to level.  I left about an inch at the top so it will be easier to cut away the plastic when it's dried.  Wait 24 hours...  (You see a theme here with patience and 24 hours, yes?) :)

Since there are some areas of the plastic bottle to not allow this to slip right out, begin a cut and gently peel away or cut away the plastic bottle.

I had to cut the sides away from the bottom piece and then gently remove the bottom piece seperately.

So here are my three vases.  My first attempt that broke and put back together and did the mosaic treatment to.  The middle one that came out perfect.  And the tall Pepsi bottle vase.  

Fresh flowers from my front garden.  Love.

Fresh flowers from my front garden.  Love.

Fresh flowers from my front garden.  Love.

Tic-Tac-Toe anyone?  Here my daughter and I mixed up enough cement for the two square molds.  We tapped them, got any excess water/oil off of the top of them using the washcloth, then we put down little decorative stones on the left one and those mosaic tiles and beads on the right one.  Let them dry for 24 hours, removed from the molds, let dry another 24 hours and all ready to play!  Those bowls are perfect to keep the playing pieces in!  Our playing pieces are white flat marbles and clear glass marbles on the left.  And white flat marbles and decorative stones on the right.  *TIP:  If you worry about them scratching up your outdoor table, you can add cork, foam or a scrap piece of fabric to the bottoms.  

I've been making stepping stones for a long time...  This is a larger one (and very heavy).  I had my husband hold her up and stand as still as a 9 month old could while I gently pushed her feet imprint in.  Let dry for 24 hours and removed from the mold.  I made another with her hands.  They have been out in the Florida elements and now two years in the North Georgia mountain elements and no issues.

Here is a larger stepping stone I made a few years ago.  I added larger river rocks.  Bought a bag of them at Michaels craft store and used a 40% coupon.  I sealed this one recently using a polyurethane and just brushed it on one layer.  It makes the rocks shiner.  Not sure I'll bother "sealing" other stepping stones.  No need...

This is the one side of the round very flimsy stepping stone mold I use often.  Pretty details.  Oiling it up helps to release it from the mold.

These are using the same round stepping stone mold.  We only have one so it took a few days to make both.  My daughter pushed in glass beads right after we tapped the air bubbles out.  P and B are the initials for my mom.  Or as my daughter pointed out, the P is for Patricia and the B is for my daughter, Bethany.  :)

This is the stepping stone that my daughter pushed in random glass pieces...

It looks beautiful in the sun!  *TIP:  You could push just about anything into the stepping stones...  coins, a broken plate, etc.

Stepping stone using small decorative stones.

Three stepping stones that look like faces with the eyes and nose.  Used the larger river rocks.  

OUTDOOR WATER BOWL FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD DOG THAT VISITS...  I used a plastic square container that had dishwasher soap tabs in.  Oiled it up, added the concrete and just like those Butterfly Baths, added one of those green plastic bowls that had oil on the outside.  Pressed it in and put in some rocks to weigh it down until it dried.  Turn every 30 minutes or so for the first few hours so it doesn't get stuck. 

This is that brick mold.  Our initials and our last name.  You can buy plastic letter stamps for projects using concrete, clay, etc.  

Here is the Butterfly Bath.  It's very shallow.  A butterfly, bee, or other critter can sit on the ledge and take a drink.

Top view of my Butterfly Bath.

My Butterfly bath in my garden.

This large stepping stone I made years ago using a broken plate.  Made it in the shape of a D.  Used a toothpick to write our names and date.  I had not bought the plastic stamps yet.  :)

This one we used a kitchen plate that accidentally broke.  If you use a broken plate or pieces that you purposely break up, safety first.  Place a plate in a pillow case or folded towel.  Gently break into pieces using a hammer.  Wear safetly glasses.  When putting pieces into concrete mold, be mindful that no sharp or jagged edges are raised.  Push in far enough that when it's dry, it will be smooth.  Cutting up the bottom of your bare feet in your garden would not be good.  

Thank you for checking out my Concrete Creations.  I hope you enjoyed and are ready to create some of your own pieces!  If you have any questions, feel free to email me at the link to the side.  


Donna Ellis said...

Great projects, Kim! Looks like you have figured everything out about blogger, too! hugs, de

Kim said...

Thanks de!! I have a few more concrete creations I want to try. Need to buy another bag.

As for the blog... not everything. Still trying to figure out the side bar with links to specific tags. And I can't change or resize my banner picture. All in time. LOL