Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Concrete Results

Yesterday I unmolded all the concrete things I made earlier this week, that I posted about here. I left everything in plastic bags for three days. The instructions say you only need two, but I decided to give things an extra 24 hours. I started with the ones that I had made with the concrete that I added more water to.

Surprisingly, they did not crumble into dust, and the molds released them quite easily. They did produce quite a lot of dust, and a few chunks did come off them as well, in spots.

This little pot with a square hole lost a chunk off the rim when I took the square bottle out that made the impression.

And two of the bricks lost chunks off their corners.

I don't really like that Swiss cheese texture. Even though these were made with the much more runny mix, they still have lots of these holes.

One of the bricks had a butterfly-shaped mold pressed into it. You can see the butterfly shape, but it's crude and rough-edged. I really want something that allows for details to show more.

And the one that I made with the drier mix that I pressed a deep glass leaf-shaped bowl into didn't come out showing much detail either.

Can you tell this is a leaf shape?

The container that I made that was a plain bowl looks like just a lump of concrete.

The edges are really rough.

There is a small void in the bottom of it. I might have avoided this if I had really shaken the container and maybe poked it with a stick, but actually I just think the mix was so dry that nothing would have helped.

I made one star with the dry mix.

And then I made five more with the wetter mix.

Here's the small birdbath. It might look better once I adorn it a bit.

Here's the picture from the book Concrete Garden Projects that I based this birdbath on.

Interestingly, the project that I like the best is the throwaway one that I made at the end when I was just trying to use up the rest of the mix -- the lump of concrete in a pizza box.

You can see the veins from the leaf that I pressed into it.

But the leaf edges aren't so hot.

There is one thing that I am confused about. Many of the items are shiny where the concrete touched the air. (They were all wrapped up in plastic bags.) I'm not sure what's going on there, but I don't like the shininess.

Thanks to everyone for your encouragement! You have no idea how very much I appreciate it. Despite my tone of unhappiness with this batch of projects, I am actually pleasantly surprised that they didn't all crumble to nothing. I'm not sure what I'll do with them when they are finished. They are all wrapped up again in black plastic bags, and I intend to mist them every day to keep them in a humid environment. According to concrete "lore" that is the best way to make sure they cure and become as hard as possible.

Next up: Portland cement. I think that might be a better medium for the detail I want in the molds. So I am off today to Lowe's with the husband to buy some. Maybe I better take advantage of him, and get two bags. I'll ply him with coffee and a cookie.


  1. Well done, you. I'll bet that the rough textures will look much better once they've been weathered. In your climate, you might even be able to stick tiny ferns in the cracks. Or moss?

  2. I like how they turned out, especially the leaf. I think once they are weathered and have moss growing on them they'll look even better. Great job!

  3. Alison,

    Next time to reduce the amount of air holes in your molds try this. Hold an electric sander next to it, works like a vibrator and shakes the bubbles right out. That is if it is not too dry of miss. Neat projects just the same. We made our own concrete counter tops 3 years ago.

  4. I think they are great! My hat is off to you!

  5. What fun projects! Weathering will help. Does your book talk about using ferrous sulfate and other elemental substances to color your projects? It's hard to get concrete to grow moss, but with enough buttermilk and shade, it can be done.

  6. Alison,
    I watched your post with much interest, as I have really wanted to try doing this. I bet you could sand down the butterfly. I think the leaf bowl may surprise you when you add a color finish to it. I agree the leaf at the end was surprising, I didn't think it would end up like that either. The stars are awesome! I think it is great that you tried it. I've always wanted to, but haven't. You have inspired me.

  7. These are so much better than your first attempt, so there's improvement, which is a good sign :)
    I rather like the cheese texture of the concrete. Those holes will fill up with mosses in time, especially if you paint them with yoghurt to get them started. I think they could end up looking attractively aged in time.

  8. Well done Alison. The leaf impression on your 'throw away' project looks really nice . Funny, isn't that how things always turn out? I'm really interested in dabbling in concrete garden art down the road.

  9. Hi Alison, Sorry I've been away from your blog for so long. You've been a busy girl! I love your concrete projects!! One thing I learned from experience is that the longer they're in the garden, the better they look. Once they take on that aged patina and moss grows on them, they'll look even better. Nice, nice job. You rock.

  10. Hi Alison! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with the rest of us. I was planning on trying this out this winter, and haven't started doing research yet, so this is great! I wonder if it's because the concrete you're using is too porous for casting? I think there are finer grades of concrete, and I wonder if those would work better. I look forward to reading your other posts and seeing how your experimenting comes along. I can't wait to try this myself! I'll be blogging about it too.



Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.