Patchwork stepping stones

in window email

I have made a few stepping stones inspired by traditional patch work design. They can be time consuming depending on how perfect you want your crockery pattern, but not hard to make. A perfect beginners project if you are new to mosaic!

YOU WILL NEED:

  • SNOWCRETE
  • kiln dried sand
  • broken crockery
  • moulds – I used plastic garden plates
  • bluetac
  • maskmarked plates email
  • safety googles
  • heavy duty plastic gloves
  • plastic bags for wrapping up project as it cures
  • old towel or rag for grouting

Begin with drawing your design inside the mould.

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When you are happy, it is just a matter of filling the patterned area with crockery pieces. Bluetac the entire side that are to be attached to your base, and squeeze it down hard, you don’t want any concrete sneaking underneath.

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porslpiece email  porslpiece bluetacced email

Remember to bluetac the pretty side of the crockery! You are building your mosaic up side down…

You can see instructions on mixing concrete and basic casting here. Don’t forget to be safeIt is important to use googles, a mask and plastic gloves. Breathing in the concrete is dangerous and it can burn your skin and damage your eyes.  I always read the manufacturers safety data sheet for further instructions and I advise you to do the same. Be careful as you handle it in both powder and wet form.

After you poured your concrete into the plates it needs to cure. Leave it wrapped up airtight in plastic.

BUT…This project should be checked after ONE day. I mentioned earlier that the concrete can sneak under the crockery if bluetac has loosened slightly in places. That can easily be scraped off and corrected before it has cured fully. Open your plastic covering on the second day, and remove your object CAREFULLY. Remember that it is still soft, and edges can break very easily.

If concrete is covering your porcelain it needs to be scraped of. This is where you can play archaeologist…..Don’t worry to much about marks, as they will be grouted over in the next step! Recover the stepping stone airtight in plastic as soon as you have finished. You need to water the concrete before closing the parcel again. Just pour some water on it. It will drip of, but moisture will remain in the bag.

Concrete dries out your skin. It can also still be curing even if it is hard to touch. Curing concrete can corrode your skin and cause serious burns.  Therefor you should always wear your plastic gloves as you remove items from moulds, sand them, scrape them or handle them. 

I would leave it in the bag for at least three days. Have a critical look at your piece as you take it out. The crockery might stick out in places and the edges can be sharp. What you need is a layer of grout. Mix the grout with a little extra sand. I use 1 part snowcrete to 3 parts sand. Slop it on, rub it in and remove the excess with a towel. Now all you need is to wrap it up again to dry slowly, and you are done!

grouted pattern 2 email

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My frame

pa skapet email

I want to make concrete frames. Above is my first experiment!! Frame is cute, but the photo in it is a print out so you have to imagine it with a crisp print and maybe even a glass in front…they will be great!!

This one was straight forward. An IKEA plastic frame we used to have in the kitchen. It never really felt right after we repainted, so I opened it and found a hollow – almost perfect – mould.  The idea was to have a variety of frames though, and they wont all be hollow…so I have ordered a container with silicon rubber. Keep your fingers crossed and I might be an expert rubber mould maker next week 🙂

It came out in a sandy colour, and even if you cannot see it from the photograph, very fragile and grainy surface. I tried a new mould release agent and it reacted with the concrete. I am hoping my next attempt to come out smooth and pale. I have sealed the fragile concrete with PVA, but the colour is unchanged.

vid fonstret email

buttercup cress pot

cresspot

I have been making a pot for cress! The thought was to keep it on the kitchen table with two separate sides both growing sandwich cress. The one side can grow as the other is being eaten….I think the little green sprouts will look great against the yellow buttercups.

a lamp!

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I thought it was time to be a little more adventurous!  I had a pair of broken – and badly glued together – bedside table lamps in our guest room. This is the first one. 

I started by taking out the hammer and breaking it properly. The plan was to use the wire, and all the lamp fastenings, but to update the broken shell. I ended up casting a new foot in an old chips tube and I modelled a new shade by covering the old metal inside in a concrete dipped jumper sleeve.

trasig email mer trasig email inuti skarm email jumper email

First, I cut off the top of the tube. Then I made a whole at the rim (for the wire to go through) and attached it, watertight, with heavy duty tape to a flat bottom. I taped it up with the wire and lamp base, and made sure that the wire was just long enough to allow the plastic base to peek out of the concrete at the top. It sounds complicated, but have a look at the photographs below.

inuti email crisp package email under email

I also cut off a piece of jumper sleeve to wrap around the shade metal skeleton. I allowed it to be skew, in order to make it stand out against the strict straight cylinder foot. In hind sight, maybe a little too wonky 🙂

I then did my concrete cast and dip! For more information on how to mix and cast in concrete, including safety advice,  look at my basic instruction.  If you want to read more about how to dip a fabric item in concrete, look at my doily dip instructions.

After letting my two little packages cure airtight for a week, it was an easy job assembling it all. I will try to make a sphere lamp shade on the second one. This one is cute, but it needs more of an edge.

lampa email lampan email

Involving the little ones!

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There are so many broken little plastic toys floating around our house. Perhaps all boys are born with magnetic powers attracting plastic in all shapes and sizes. I sneak them out systematically every time I clean the house, and they bring them back from restaurants, parties or from just walking down the street…

I have a secret bag where they go to retire instead of the bin. The bag is gold for rainy day arty projects! This is a stepping stone we made last year. I prepared a little box with concrete, kitted my then 8 year old in safety goggles, massive plastic gloves and an overall, and let him go loose on squeezing toys into the mixture.

BE SAFE. It is important to use googles, a mask and plastic gloves. Breathing in the concrete is dangerous and it can burn your skin and damage your eyes.  I always read the manufacturers safety data sheet for further instructions and I advise you to do the same. Be careful as you handle it in both powder and wet form.

Concrete dries out your skin. It can also still be curing even if it is hard to touch. Curing concrete can corrode your skin and cause serious burns.  Therefor you should always wear your plastic gloves as you remove items from moulds, sand them, scrape them or handle them. 

You can find all the information on how to mix your concrete in my beginners lesson.

It might not be so comfortable to step on…but it looks cute!

A bird bath in white mosaic

I use a lot of old crockery for mosaics and have saved up broken plates for years. But it is always the pretty bits that gets used. I wanted to make an object using only the blank white pieces. 

finished email

MATERIALS:

  • SNOWCRETE (white cement)
  •  kiln dried sand
  • broken crockery
  • Spray bottle with water in
  • Safety googles
  • Mask
  • Plastic gloves
  • Plastic sheet to protect the floor
  • Plastic bin bag
  • Old towel

The first thing you have to do is a sand mound. Decide how deep you want your birdbath and mould that shape. Then you can start squeezing crockery into the sand surface. Spray water on the sand if they don’t stick in place. Try and match your pieces up as tightly as you can.

mound email

Don’t forget that you are turning your crockery pieces up side down. The side facing the sand mound, is the side that will be visible later on. Be careful with the edges, you want them to look good!

Mix your concrete. You need to use one part Snowcrete to two parts sand. Start with stirring the two together well before adding the water. Add small quantities of water at a time. It is easy to make concrete to thin. Aim for the consistency of a solid porridge. You don’t need a large mix. It is heavy work mixing concrete in great quantities, but very easy in small batches.

Be safe. It is important to use googles, a mask and plastic gloves. Breathing in the concrete is dangerous and it can burn your skin and damage your eyes.  I always read the manufacturers safety data sheet for further instructions and I advise you to do the same. Be careful as you handle it in both powder and wet form.

Plop it on little by little. You don’t want to disturb the pieces as you go along, so be light handed.

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Keep an eye on the thickness. A birdbath doesn’t need to be nimble, It needs stability.

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It needs to be wrapped up in plastic so not to dry tot quickly. Concrete dries harder if it dries slowly. Wrapping it  up the concrete air tight as it cures, will add a few days to the process and therefor increase the quality and strength of your final piece. Leave it for a minimum of four days, lift it off and scrub it clean. Most of the sand will come off, but it will look a bit rough at this stage.

Concrete dries out your skin. It can also still be curing even if it is hard to touch. Curing concrete can corrode your skin and cause serious burns.  Therefor you should always wear your plastic gloves as you remove items from moulds, sand them, scrape them or handle them. 

raw emailraw edge email

The edges will be uneven and the crockery sharp. What you need is a layer of grout. Mix the grout with a little extra sand. I use 1 part snowcrete to 3 parts sand. Slop it on, rub it in and remove the excess with a towel. Use the grout to sculpt the edges smooth. It is not hard, but takes a little patience.

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Wrap it back into plastic when you are happy and let it dry slowly.

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