Concrete is a super strong building material, but it is also great for crafts! You need to get to grips with a few basic techniques, but mixing and casting concrete is not difficult for the average crafter to master, and you will be amazed at the high quality home and garden items that you can make.
From trendy industrial-looking items to more delicate patterned concrete makes, Hester van Overbeek is here to fill you in on a few concrete crafting secrets...
Three things you need to know about concrete:
1. People seem to mix up the words cement and concrete. To clear it up, cement is the “glue” that holds concrete together. You mix cement with aggregates—such as sharp sand (also called builder’s sand), ballast, small rocks, gravel, etc—to make concrete.
2. Most premixed concrete is a grey colour, but by using white Portland cement (crushed and finely ground limestone) and coloured pigments you can create a lot of different toned projects.
3. Concrete comes in different textures. There are the very smooth and fine ones and the coarser mixes. The coarse ones are cheaper to buy and contain larger pieces of rubble or stones—this concrete is used by builders to make walls, etc. Smoother concrete mixes have finer milled ballast, resulting in a very smooth finish which is great for delicate projects.
Always wear rubber gloves and safety goggles when working with concrete, and wear a dust mask when weighing and mixing concrete powder.
So how do I craft with it?
Molding and shaping your project
You can pour concrete, spoon it into the mold, or pack it in with your gloved hands.
Pouring—where you simply pour the concrete into its mold and smooth it off—is used for most small projects. Poured concrete is often very smooth.
Packing/pressing is great for larger projects and builds that need to hold their shape immediately. The concrete mixture you use is drier and will often create more texture in its walls, like veins and holes.
Patterns and colour
Concrete will take on any pattern your mold might have on the inside, like a wood grain or object. You can play with the appearance of your project by adding shapes to the walls of your outer mold.
Do this with rubber or foam flowers, create letters or shapes with silicon sealant, or use silicon textured mats intended for sugar crafting to give great detailed texture to your project.
Colour brings an extra dimension to your project and can either be added into the concrete mix by using pigments or by painting the object after it has been unmolded.
The tips, images and information in this blog post are extracted from the forthcoming book, Making Concrete Pots, Bowls, & Platters by Hester van Overbeek.
So what are you waiting for?
Head to your local DIY store and have a browse at the different concrete mixes they sell... then arm yourself with the Hester's new book, and you're all set to try crafting with concrete at home!