Our house was filled with doilies as I grew up. We had them in colours matching all the curtains of the seasons, for all the rooms of our house. My grandmother was a fantastic crocheter. I try to put one out from time to time, but I can never use them all! See below how easy it is to transform them into versatile and beautiful bowls with the help of concrete.
You will need:
- 1 sack of SNOWCRETE (white cement)
- 1 sack of kiln dried sand
- 1 old doily (size and shape of doily determinates size and shape of finished bowl)
- 2 heavy duty plastic buckets, average size 14 l. You need one to mix your cement mix in, and one to hang the dripping doily over. You can use any container of your choice, as long as you are happy with the shape.
- Safety googles
- Plastic gloves
- Plastic sheet to protect the floor
- Plastic bin bag
- Optional: Spatula
- Optional: Wax (I use a clear marble wax)
Don’t feel deflated if you haven’t got a doily. Your friends or family’s cupboards might be over flowing with them. They are often sold at boot sales and markets and a quick glance at Ebay gave plenty of hits.
Remember: The finished item will get its shape from the Bucket/bowl/tray/mound you choose to hang the doily over, after it has been dipped in concrete. It is therefore important to choose a good shaped bucket! Think about your final product. Do you want to have a large flat base? Do you want to have high edges? Test hang your doily over different shaped buckets before you decide. I used a standard heavy duty plastic bucket from Wickes. It was a good shape, but had markings underneath, so the finished bowl has those markings in it. (see pic below) If you dont want markings or groves inside your bowl, be aware of which bucket you use. You can also prepare it by sanding down or cutting out anything uneven.
You need to decide what you want to do with the left over concrete, after the doily dipp. I have several other easy and fun ideas on this blogg. You can also use it to simply test new things. Pour some on a leaf, or into a plastic glove. Dig a little shape into sand and pour it in. You can use an old yoghurt container and do a quick candle holder etc.. I normally plan two or three projects in a go. It feels more worthwhile getting all geared up in safety goggles then…
Soak your doily in water. If it is dry it won’t absorb the concrete as well.
Prepare your area. You want to cover the ground with plastic. Place the empty bucket upside down inside of an opened bin bag. Concrete dries harder if it dries slowly. Wrapping the concrete air tight in a bin bag as it cures, will add a few days to the process and therefor increase the quality and strength of your final piece.
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.
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. A normal mix should be like a solid porridge, but for this project it needs a little extra water. Aim for the consistency of thick yoghurt!
You don’t need a lot. I would start with maybe 500 ml concrete to a a liter of sand. The required amount is dependent on what size doily you are using, but it wont differ to much. It is easy mixing up a little extra, but you don’t want to waste or throw away large amounts.
Dip the doily and work the concrete into the fabric. You want concrete in between every little crocheted stitch. Hang it over the bucket and let it drip into the bin bag. Make sure that it hangs exactly the way you want it to. You can centre it, or let it hang a little skew for a more handmade look. You can thicken the base of your bowl by manually adding some concrete and flatten it with a spatula. Leave it drying in the open for 30-40 minutes allowing your bowl to harden some before you close up the bin bag around it. That will minimize markings from the plastic bag on the concrete surface.
After one day you open the parcel. The concrete feels hard, but it is still curing. It is an ideal time to flatten the bottom of your bowl if so required. You can scrap using a spatula, or sand uneven areas with sandpaper. You need to water the concrete before closing the parcel again. Just pour some water on top of your bowl. 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.
Wait another three days until you take the bowl off its base. It can be a little tricky to get it off without damaging it, so be careful. Let it dry out fully. You can now sand off any sharp edges or unwanted splodges.
I personally like to wax my concrete. I like the vintage look. The Snowcrete comes out bright white, and the piece goes a little yellowish with a clear wax. It also makes it easier to wipe clean as your bowl will absorb less fluids.
TA DAA! Time to choose where to put your new lovely bowl. I never wax underneath my items. If you paint it with PVA diluted with a little water, it is a little protected that way. Then a sticky back felt will stick to it if you want to soften the bottom to save your furniture.