Wednesday, April 2, 2008

concrete garden art...

How good it is to have some sunshine once again! I finally had a chance to get outside and do a little gardening....and this and that.

I brought some of my garden decor out of storage...and put it back where it belongs for the summer. A few years ago I made all kinds of concrete garden bowls to place among my shrubbery...

...and to give away as gifts. I followed the instructions which I had pulled out of a farming publication of some kind....and they were quite fun to make. The concept is simple...and the only mold required is a pile of sand. The bowls can be left natural concrete colour and painted...or a colouring agent can be added to the concrete when mixing. Rhubarb leaves work great...but any large leaves with prominent veins will do. Here's the recipe...

1 bag quickset concrete mix
weldbond glue
plastic kitchen wrap
large bucket
rubber gloves
large leaf...with no holes or rips
colouring agent
(mine came from the concrete shop...but you can use orange chalkline chalk to produce a terra cotta colour)

Make a mound of damp sand on your work area...the higher the mound the deeper the bowl. Cover your mound completely with plastic wrap, overlapping pieces. Place the leaf (vein side up) over the wrap-covered mound. The wrap must extend out from the edges of the leaf, as this keeps the concrete from coming into contact with the sand. You have created a mold.

Pour about 4" of water into the bucket...add about 1/4 cup of weldbond glue (eyeball measurements are good enough!), and mix well. Wearing rubber gloves, add quickset concrete mix (and colourant powder, if desired) until you can make a ball of the concrete mixture that holds it's shape. You want the concrete to stay on your leaf and not slide off. Take a little of the mix and place it on the top of the leaf, then begin working the blob of mix toward the edge of the leaf, but not quite to the edge. Put it over all the about 1 1/2 inch thickness in centre. Leave a bit of leaf all around the edge so that the veins will run to the very edge of the bowl. If you run out of concrete, don't panic...just mix more!

Cover your finished bowl with painter's plastic and allow to set for at least 2 days , before gently removing from the mold. If you cannot remove all the veins without damaging the bowl, just leave them & eventually they will shrink and brush out easily. The leaves fully cure in about thirty days. Then you can seal them with a concrete sealer.

Each leaf is a two are the same. The ones I made as gifts...I wrote my initials and the date on the backside of the leaf while it was still soft.

We set up a 'factory' outside (you can do that on the farm), and made umpteen at one time. That's so much easier than mucking around with concrete many times. My daughter-in-law actually had a workshop for a bunch of her friends one night...they made twelve at one time.

When we moved to our new house almost four years ago, we had not a tree on the property. The house looked quite lonely out on the pasture...and so we have begun the process of planting trees. We decided to plant a tree for every grandchild...and by each tree we have placed a stepping stone with their name and birth date.

Today the stepping stones came out of storage and are back in the garden. They were made with the same concrete as the bowls, but they were set in molds from Lee Valley Tools (which come with a set of letters for stamping anything you may wish).

Emme and Spencer are thrilled to have their own trees...the younger two haven't really figured it out. And we've got lots of wide open spaces to plant more trees...and more concrete waiting to be poured!

I've got other pieces of concrete art out in the gardens...all of them gifts. I love garden gifts!

The grandkids gave me the turtle for Christmas...and they like it as much as I do!

One happy robin is singing non-stop this morning...from his perch on Emme's tree!

Enjoy the sunshine...and we'll see what today may hold.


  1. This is amazing to me...looks like so much fun and the results are incredible. No wonder that the girls love their trees. Ryder and Ranen will enjoy theirs when they are a little older. Is Ranen with you today?

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I've bookmarked it!

  2. Always a delight to visit you the cement garden's looking more like spring up your way...

    Have a beautiful day...Dee Dee

  3. Wow...amazing, I really love the rhubarb leaf!
    And your g'children's names in concrete for the trees you plant, what a neat idea.

  4. Judy I love this post. I will absolutley do this. I love it all, the stepping stones and the leaves. Thank you for the wonderful idea.


  5. Cool bowls! I love that idea...I have too many projects I want to do, it will have to go on my list for now! Plus, I need my own house to store everything first :)

  6. I love these. I will have to try this myself.


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson