Saturday, May 17, 2014

Concrete Garden Bowls

I'm still enjoying the concrete garden bowls amongst the of art that I made following instructions in a farming publication of some sort almost a decade ago. They were quite fun to I thought I would share the instructions over here.

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
  • water
  • 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 terracotta 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. On 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. 

Have fun!

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