Working with concrete is actually pretty easy, if you've got the right materials…
Decorating a home with plants allows you to create an enjoyable and cheerful atmosphere. Besides vegetation, essential adornments for the composition of a greener space are the vessels which contain the plants. These can be made of different materials like ceramic, clay, metal or concrete.
Concrete is an easy material to be found and has long been used only for coating functions, the basis for the construction and architecture. In recent years, however, this industrial material has been redefined to also serve as raw material for delicate objects such as lamps, pots and vases. At the same time, the ease of access to materials and information allowed the popularisation of the DIY concept, in which you can manually make objects for your home without having to hire a service provider.
With this ideabook, homify brings you some tips on how you can make your own concrete pots in numerous shapes, sizes and with different decorative possibilities. You can be inspired, get your hands dirty and leave your home filled with small details to brighten each day.
To make your concrete vessel like these from Connox (pictured), you must first choose the mould. We will teach how to make a simple vase, so initially we suggest not using very complex shapes, in order that you may understand the process. For example, two stacked boxes, one taller than the other, or two containers such as cups and pots of the same shape but in different sizes. After you master the technique you can create forms with more elaborate designs!
Choose two moulds of different sizes with the same format, eg. a carton of milk and a sour cream box. Place one inside the other. The space between the outer perimeter of the two moulds should be at least 5cm. It doesn’t really matter which material your mould is made from, but some common examples are made of glass, plastic, cardboard, or stainless steel.
Besides your mould/s, there are several other materials you will need for this exciting DIY process. This includes:
- Coarse sandpaper
- Spray or lubricating oil
- Gloves to protect your hands
- Container in which to mix this mass
- Something to stir the concrete paste, like an old wooden spoon.
- Concrete mixture (if you can’t find a ready-made mixture at a hardware store, you can just mix cement and sand yourself)
Ok, now we are ready to get to the heart of the matter. First things first – protect your hands by putting on a pair of latex gloves before you get started. Add the desired amount of concrete mixture to your mixing container, according to package instructions. If you did not find the ready-made mixture, add one part cement to two parts sand to get the concrete recipe right. Now, gradually add water whilst continuously mixing the paste. It should not be too hard or too runny. The trick is to get it at just the right consistency, almost like cake batter.
Once your paste is just about right, apply the oil or lubricant spray on the inner and outer surface of the smaller-sized mould and place it in the centre of the bigger one. The dimensions of the smaller container define the size you will actually have to house your plant, so make sure it is a viable size for what you had in mind.
After you have checked where the smaller container will fit into the larger one, remove it for the time being. Pour the concrete paste gently into the larger mould until it reaches a thickness that will be appropriate for the base of your vessel. Take the time to smooth out the surface of this base layer with a spatula or your wooden spoon, ensuring that there are no air bubbles on the surface.
Now place your smaller mould inside the larger one and on top of the base. Press it down to ensure it is stable in its position exactly at the centre.
Remember, the base and walls must be of a similar thickness, while the base can sometimes be thicker than the walls (usually not the other way around).
After you have poured the remainder of your concrete mixture into your mould combination, you should have all of the space between the two boxes filled up now. Once it has stood for a few minutes, wrap the cast in plastic and let it harden uninterrupted for approximately 36 hours.
If you then want to check whether the container is ready or if the concrete is still damp, you can use a stylus or a knife to test a small part. If the structure is perforated by your tool, it is not ready yet and should be left to stand for a couple more hours.
Once you have checked that the concrete has completely hardened, you can go ahead and slowly remove the inner mould. If you used cardboard, you can tear it. If you used glass, you may have to break it, although petroleum jelly and the lubricant usually allow you to save glass moulds. The secret lies in proper preparation, and of course, the simplicity of your mould design. A simple, rectangular glass bowl will be easier to remove than a geometrically abstract one with many edges and angles.
Once you have removed your inner mould successfully, you can remove the outer mould and smooth the surface of the vessel with coarse sandpaper. You should wait for a few more days before moving you plant into the container.
You can use the sandpaper to smooth out the surface of the vessel on all of its surfaces. The polish the piece you will need to use coarse sandpaper, as concrete is a hardy substance with rough edges.
You can also decorate your container with acrylic paint – go wild with various colours, patterns and designs. You can create a composition between your different pieces, mixing sizes, plant species, and various types of media to decorate the surface of the vessel. These little beauties will be perfect for anywhere in your home, but will look great in social spaces like the living room.
If you enjoyed this DIY ideabook, maybe you'd like to take a look at how you can: Make your own furniture from wooden pallets?