How to Make Interesting Things Out of Concrete

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Outdoor crafting projects entail weatherproof supplies that resist moisture and frost. Mediums such as concrete are often used in different interesting projects such as mosaic art. Mediums such as vitreous glass, which are opaque glass tiles or enameled glass referred to as smalti, are used to make projects such as mosaic concrete outdoor stepping stones. Recycled household items such as broken mirrors or unused crockery as well as stones or seashells are also usable.

Things You'll Need

  • Card stock
  • Transparent vinyl contact paper
  • Marker
  • Craft knife
  • Tesserae (your choice)
  • Stepping stone mold
  • Mold release agent
  • Concrete mix
  • Mixing bowl
  • Protective mask
  • Protective gloves
  • Mixing tool (i.e. wooden paddle)
  • Putty knife
  • Embedding block
  • Old tweezers
  • Old towel
  • Rack
  • Craft sponge tool
  • Soft cloth

Preparing Your Design Template

  • Draw your design pattern for your template such as a butterfly or your initial on card stock with a drawing pencil.

  • Trace your design pattern onto a sheet of transparent vinyl contact paper with a marker. Make sure your design has a defined outline for cutting.

  • Cut out the positive space of your design template with your craft knife. Do not remove the protective backing from your vinyl contact paper.

  • Choose your tesserae by selecting the medium for your project such as vitreous glass, smalti or millefiori, which are colored tiles made in Murano, Italy. Tesserae refers to the pieces used to make up mosaic design.

  • Place your design template on your work surface and position your tesserae tiles to determine your pattern placement prior to mixing your concrete. Space your pieces evenly.

  • Remove your template and review your positioned pieces. Make any necessary placement adjustments.

Preparing Your Concrete Mix

  • Purchase a stepping stone mold at your local craft or art store. You can also opt to recycle plastic containers and make your own mold.

  • Spray a light coating of a mold release agent inside of your mold. This will ensure the concrete will remove easily once hardened.

  • Pour out your concrete mix into a mixing bowl. Pour slowly to reduce the dust, wearing a protective mask and gloves. Read your brand's directions.

  • Pour your brand's recommended amount of water into the concrete mix.

  • Mix the water and concrete with a mixing tool such as a wooden paddle. The thinner the mix, the harder it will be for the mix to hold your tesserae. Very dry mix will not allow you to embed your tesserae as well. It is best to add water slowly to make a desirable consistency. The mix will appear crumpled and slightly coarse.

  • Pour your concrete mix into your mold, spreading it toward the mold's edges with a putty knife. Keep in mind that if the weather is hot and humid, your mix will harden faster and you will have to work faster to add your tesserae.

Adding Your Mosaic to the Wet Mix

  • Position your template over the concrete mold. Do not press it in.You will be removing the template in a later step.

  • Space your tesserae pieces evenly inside of your template until your mosaic pattern is complete. You will be adding one piece at a time.

  • Embed your tesserae by gently pushing each piece into the concrete mix with your finger, wearing your gloves. Make sure the pieces are level with the concrete surface. You can also opt to use an embedding block, which is a block made of wood or granite, usually six-by-four-by-one inches. The embedding block will ensure all pieces are even with the concrete's surface.

  • Remove the design template by carefully lifting one corner with old tweezers. Gently roll it back and peel it off. You can opt to smooth out any lines the template made with your putty knife.

  • Let the concrete mosaic stepping stone dry the recommended time. It is best to wait a minimum of 48 hours prior to removing your mold.

  • Place an old towel on your work surface. Carefully flip your stepping stone over and jiggle it out of the mold.

  • Flip your stepping stone with your mosaic design facing up and carefully place it on a rack. The concrete will need another 28 days to completely cure. The elevation will allow air to circulate around the stone as it is curing. According to "Easy Mosaics for Your Home and Garden", Sarah Donnelly writes, "...set it on a nonporous rack...out of sunlight and loosely covered with plastic."

  • Spray your tiles lightly with water to clean off any excess concrete. Wipe the water away with a craft sponge tool. Sarah Donnelly continues to write, "Spray it with water every 24 hours for five more days, then use a soft cloth to polish individual mosaic pieces. Wait seven more days before applying pressure."

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References

  • "Easy Mosaics for your Home and Garden"; Sarah Donnelly; 2001
  • "Mosaic Basics: Everything You Need to Know to Start Making Beautiful Mosaics"; Teresa Mills; 2007
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