We love mixing different natural elements together in our home design. The modern rustic and industrial decor is one of our favorites however, I [Diane] find that some things have to grow on me before I get attached to it and concrete was one of those things. Concrete floors and counter tops seemed so cold and uninviting to me a few years ago but slowly little by little I am gravitating towards it. When I see what you can actually do with concrete floors now by staining and painting them to actually look like wood, I am blown away. Check out these concrete floors here for ideas. Most of all, I love that concrete is so affordable and that anyone can DIY their own floors and kitchen counter tops or if you want to experiment small, DIY your own concrete or cement garden planter or candle holder first. That’s how I started and today I wanted to share with you how I did it. Although our children are older and I think would get just as much enjoyment from making these, I really think it would be a fun and cool cement craft for the summer if you have little kiddos running around.
Before we get started I wanted to clarify something that I didn’t completely understand and wasn’t sure if it made a big difference or not when it came to making a cement or concrete diy craft. What the heck is the difference between cement and concrete? The basic and easy explanation of the difference between cement and concrete is that concrete is made with cement plus additional fillers that makes the substance very strong when mixed with water then dried. You know, like sidewalks and driveways. They are both grayish powder substances that you mix with water to let dry however, cement just has a little smoother texture when it dries because it does not have the fillers that concrete has which also doesn’t make it as durable. We have a lot of upcycled concrete in our backyard that we will be posting about soon but for today’s product don’t worry so much if you are using cement or concrete. Both products will provide similar results. I was going for the smooth texture so I used cement for my diy craft today. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get started on how to make this cool diy cement craft for summer.
1 bag of Portland cement
disposable gloves to mix the cement and water or a painters stick
plastic containers for whatever form you want to mold
spray cooking oil or Vaseline
1) I lined a small bucket with a plastic grocery bag to mix the cement and water in. This would make for an easier clean up after and I am all about that! For the molds, I had an old tall plastic food container that I liked the straight cylinder look. You can also use some round or square plastic food containers. I bet you can find some of those in your kitchen cabinets with missing lids. I also found a very inexpensive plastic pot liner at Lowe’s. I bought a smaller one of the same shape that would provide the inside mold. Inspired by Pottery Barn’s concrete fluted garden planter here, I decided to make my own copy but not spend the $100! Off to the dollar store I went and spotted the perfect bathroom trash can for my fluted mold.
2) I used approximately 1 part water and 1 part cement to start with but needed to add more cement to get the right consistency. The thinner the mixture the longer it will take to harden but plan on a good 24 hours either way. I tried to get mine like brownie batter. For the food and plastic liner molds I mixed everything in the bucket first because I wanted to spray the mold containers with a cooking oil to make removal easier. I used a glass bottle to make the inside of the plastic food container mold. Since the trash can mold was much larger I just mixed everything inside of it hoping I wouldn’t have a problem getting the cement mold out. Sometimes you just have to experiment.
3) Next is pouring the cement mixture in the molds then placing the inner mold so that it creates room for plants or candles when it is dried.
4) You will need to add some weight to hold the inside molds in place. Since there were plenty of small concrete pieces already in our back yard from the gabion wall Dean built, I placed a few inside the mold careful not to weigh it too heavily that it touched the bottom. It was a little tricky getting it balanced out but it all worked out.
5) Let the cement harden overnight. Our sprinklers went off about half way through the drying process and luckily didn’t affect anything but next time I will most likely move it on our back patio and away from the sprinklers!
6) Now it is time to remove the molds. The thin plastic pot liners were super easy to remove. The heavier food container with the bottle inside was more difficult even though they were sprayed with the cooking spray. By pounding on the bottom and sides a few time and loosening up the edges around the bottle the cement mold slid out of the plastic food container. Remember, I didn’t use any spray for the trash can but when it was time to remove the mold, it came out just fine with a few more pounding on the sides and bottom. So, in my case, the cooking oil spray probably wasn’t necessary. They look a little rough around the edges right now but you will be surprised how a little sanding will transform them in to beautiful centerpieces.
7) If you don’t already have a sanding block or fine sandpaper in your craft supplies or garage, you can easily pick one up at your local big box home improvement store. I just used a sharp kitchen knife to even out the top where it was needed. Gently scrape off any rough edges moving the knife away from you. You can see what a difference the sanding did. Look how smooth it is.
8) I already had in mind what I was going to use the cement containers for. The smaller one was for a couple succulent plants and I was going to give it to my son’s girlfriend for helping me with the photos on this project. Thank you, Angela! The cylinder cement container was going to be a candle holder for outdoors on the lanai and the fluted garden planter was for the basil plant that Dean recently purchased. Each cement container had it’s own uniqueness to it already, but I wanted to add a little color to the cement candle holder. First, I used paint tape and wrapped it around the concrete cylinder.
Then I added some Annie Sloan Provence Blue chalk paint that I already had and let that dry.
For the succulent planter, I put pea size gravel in the bottom for drainage and filled it half way with potting soil before I placed the 3 succulents inside. Once the succulents were in place, I packed in more soil on top and a couple river rocks to ensure the succulents wouldn’t fall over. I got lucky with the size of the basil plant, it fit perfectly in the fluted garden planter!
With that, we now have three beautiful and unique DIY cement crafts that in total cost less than $10.00!
You can be as creative and artsy as you want when you are thinking of designs. You can decorate them with your toddlers hand prints, stencil names, special dates or your favorite saying. Look through your kitchen cabinets or garage for different possible molds. I found a ton of nice straight cylinder cups at the dollar store that would make nice votive candle holders. Have fun with this DIY cement craft and enjoy the results yourself or give them away for special gifts. I am sure they will be greatly enjoyed either way.