5 Spring Pinterest Challenge Tutorial: Cement Goodies

Wednesday you saw the Pinterest Challenge reveal and I’m back today with a tutorial (delayed but its jam packed I promise!) on how to make Cement Garden Decorations. Hope you’re ready for this jelly!
Never heard of the Pinterest Challenge? Well its completely unofficial (not sponsored by Pinterest) and hosted by two of the biggest DIY'er home bloggers (in my book) and two additional co-hosts each season. It’s basically a challenge to get up off your tush, start making some of those pins, share all about it, and best of all a huge link fest to continue inspiring. 

Before we get into a step by step tutorial here’s a handy video highlighting some of the main points:

Video notes:
  • Guess a Speedy Gonzales sounded pretty awesome at the time.
  • Those bird noises randomly placed throughout the video? They were the actual audio from the painting experience. Country living has its peaceful perks.
*For those on mobile try youtube here or Apple here.
Since it’s a lengthy tutorial, because I’m wordy NOT because it is overly difficult, here’s a quick overview with two main parts:
  1. Prepare the cement
    1. Fill the molds
      1. Molds with inserts
  2. Finishing Touches
    1. Spray Paint
    2. Craft Acrylic Paint
    3. Sealant
Prepare the cement
Gather the supplies for part one (as mentioned yesterday):
Concrete Mix | 2 Cardboard box (for the mess) | 3 Trowel | 4 Galvanized Steel | 5 Measuring Cup | 6 Cooking Spray | 7 Wire Snips | 8 Round Jello Mold |9 American Flag Jello Mold | 10 Round Jello Mold | 11 Clear Vinyl Saucer (for plants) | 12 Drill with mixer attachment | 13 extra food container (for mold insert) | 14 Old bucket for mixing

I still can’t believe a local thrift store was letting those Jell-O Molds go for $0.50 a piece, what a steal! You could also include gems (found at $1/local craft stores), decorative plates (to crush), or other decorative pieces to jazz up your piece. I choose paint. If you choose decorative pieces, Intimate Weddings has some great tips.
  1. Measure the cement into the mixing bucket.
  2. Add water slowly, according to the package directions. If there aren’t any directions or if they’re in bulk (like mine) follow my boyfriends recommendation for consistency: like brownies. I used about 6-7 cups cement mix for the large stepping stone.
  3. Mix by machine or by hand.
    • Here’s the part where you can correct the consistency if it is too dry, add more water; too thin, add more mix.
  4. Coat your mold with cooking spray (or Vaseline, or even cooking oil) in order to preserve the mold for additional use.
  5. Carefully pour the cement into the mold. For intricate molds/designs, use a small trowel or a gloved hand to pack the cement inside. Stop about half way (full or empty, age long debate?). Don’t be like me and forget that the mesh is to help support the concrete. Learn from my mistakes.
  6. Level the cement and generously shake and tap the mold to force air bubbles to the surface, continue to level.
  7. Using a wire cutter, cut the mesh to your desired size. Mine was enough to fit in the center of the mold.
  8. If your wire was rolled up, like mine, flatten the piece as best you can. 
  9. Insert Mesh and pour cement into the mold leaving about 1/4 inch from the top. 
  10. Repeat step 6. 
Molds with Inserts
  1. For molds with ‘inserts’ for flowers, votives, etc. ensure to coat every spot in your mold where the cement will touch. So in my case:
    • Inside of the wavy mold
    • Outside of the plastic insert
    Since I was feeling greedy for more cement goodies:
    • Inside of the insert and the outside of the terra cotta clay pot.
    Confused? Check out this illustration:
  2. Stop about ¼ way (or your desired planter/votive height).
  3. Carefully spoon (or use the skinny trowel like I did) the concrete around the interior mold. If using a lighter material (like mine), be sure to weigh down the insert. The greed came from the need to weigh down the plastic, improvise with wacha got right?
  4. When finished, the assembly would resemble this.
  5. Set the molds on a level surface and let cure in the sun (bring inside overnight if you have cool weather) for 24 hours.
Finishing Touches
Gather the supplies for part 2:
1 Spray Paint | 2 Acrylic Craft Paint | 3 Craft Paint Brushes | 4 Painting Tray | 5 Water Bucket | 6 Towel | 7 Cardboard (Grass protection)
Not shown Spray Paint: Clear (as selant), Lime Green, and Satin Lagoon.

The painted finishing touches are really up to you, here are the steps I took:
  1. Cover the stone with two coats of primer. I used Rust-Oleum’s 2x coverage sort of as a primer/ base paint. Ensure to read the can for recommended dry times. Mine mentioned must spray within first hour otherwise wait 48 hours.
  2. Followed with the color coat, Finish by the top coat.
    • The Black and White Stone and the American Flag were painted with the Acrylic Craft Paints.
    • The Lime Green and Satin Lagoon spray paints were used on the round molds left over from this project..
    • Clear spray paint coating to help prevent fading and to seal in the Craft Acrylic Paint- since I wasn’t sure if it would chip easily. Since the can was already out, I figured a coat on the other spray painted pieces wouldn’t hurt.
    So “go gecha paint on, go gecha paint on, Getcha Getcha Getcha Getcha Getcha” to the tune of Missy Elliot herself.

    And now for the photo-fest:
    Boy am I hooked on collages lately. Sometimes I wish I had an Iphone for all it's glorious apps (mocked from fuzel btw), but alas I'm left with photoshopping.

    Would you have put it passed me to sneak in my favorite color combo? To my surprise, the big stepping stone (the whole reason to get my concrete-on in the first place) wasn’t a total failure. It had me worried for a while whether the bottom of the mold would be picture worthy. I think it looks a cross between a maze and a sewer grate.  Since so much time was spent on painting (see video), I declare this one my favorite.

    I’m not the biggest ‘Americana’ fan (please don’t hate) and was worried it would have that vibe going on.
    It may have inspired a mini-flag photoshoot. I was pleasantly surprised and am now declaring this my second favorite. Even better, after a little sterilizing washing, the mold can be used for a festive 4th of July cake, Pie or Jell-O! 

    The wavy one is affectionately called squiggles:

    Looks pretty great with plants:

    Next up, another splash of Satin Lagoon:
    I can imagine this as little votive holder. Already planning to make a few more in various colors lining the future deck stairs.

    And last but not least, the round mold:
    Also looks pretty dapper- all dressed to the nines:
    Round-Mold-Cement-Jell-O-Mold-Garden-Pot-Planter-DIYOne last photo op for good measure:

    Admittedly some pieces were more holey than others. Which is why I’ll probably use a different cement mix in the future. Not gonna lie, I’m kinda digging the Jell-O and Cool Whip impression on the side of the flag.

    All in all, they turned out great (at least in my opinion) and I can’t wait to make more cement goodies for the garden. Which do you think the stepping stone resembles more: a maze or sewer grate? What’s your take on Americana? Do you have any favorites?

    Want to see the Past Pinterest Challenge: Winter 2013’s $5 Drum Shade and Zombie-Lego Costumes.

    P.S. We were not paid or perked from any of these vendors; we just happily picked up the supplies necessary for the job.

    Linking up to: the hosts: SherryKatie, Emily and Renee. My Pintiful inspiration here and here.

    Have you heard? I'm hosting my very first give away during the100th post celebration. So come back here in 4 short posts for a super fun-filled post.


    1. Ahh love them!! The green one is my fave!!


    2. Wow! I love this detailed tutorial. I am going to give this a try myself!

    3. Thank you both! Can't wait to make a bunch more!

    4. Oh wow!! Those are awesome! Great job :)

    5. That flag is amazing! Fab project and post!


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