Thursday, April 24, 2014

How to Make Carved Concrete Stepping Stones

Here in Florida, we are a couple months into Spring and that means I have a Spring project. A rather large one this year!!
I am creating a poured concrete stepping stone path in my front yard (Yes, basically I am making a mosaic with stepping stones, ha!  :).  It will be about 80 feet long when complete.
FYI: Basic How-to for stepping stones (here on my blog).

I have about half of it set, leveled and planted with dwarf mono grass plugs and Blue-eyed grass (which is actually not a grass but is in the lily family).  And I have about another quarter of the stones poured.

That bare area will get sod.

But, of course, I HAD to get a little creative!

I am using a variety of molds for these stones, only one of which is sold as a stepping stone mold (and is not pictured).

I found a plastic container with nice crisp corners and plain bottoms (intended to be used for holiday treats), and I also found a set of tiered cake tins I had picked up at a thrift store years ago.
Foil containers work too but result in rough sides plus can only be re-used a few times each.

The largest mold is the plastic saucer for a very large outdoor pot. You can see it towards the top of the photo above.

And, this ===> is what a simple poured concrete stone looks like using the pot saucer as a mold:


So I did a bit of research, gathered a few basic tools to carve and make marks, and got busy!

* The main carving tool I am using is the red handled X-acto with a saw blade. You can use any sort of saw you have handy, even an old kitchen steak knife.
* The old green-handles garden sheers make nice lines and gouges.
* The old dental tool makes nice lines and also smooths areas.
* That odd bit of copper pipe wrapped in a paper towel? That makes great little circles (bottom left of photo). And if pressed in and rotated well, will even pop out a bit of concrete to make a large circle depression. Nice for flower centers (second row, far left :)

I am trying to make each carved stone different.

One of these is not like the others.
Can you spot it??

*See my blog post on: "How to make a poured concrete stepping stone."

*Place a board or large floor tile on top of your mold before flipping. Then, after carving, move the board/tile together with the stone. Don't want to crack that soft stone while moving it!!

*Timing for carving is critical, and dependent on your own conditions: air temperature, how wet your mix was... I find it is ready to carve once the poured surface has started to loose the wet gloss and is hard to the touch. For me, this is around 8 hours at my current (warm) temperatures. There is a time window for carving, but remember, the more time after pour, the harder it will be to carve. I did a few after about 16 hours and it was rather wrist-aching!

*Lightly score your lines first, then proceed with deeper carving. Try to cut away from the areas you want to keep.

*Periodically brush off loosened concrete so you can accurately see the emerging design. I use a dust pan/brush set.

Interested to see what else I've done with stepping stones? Click here to go to all posts tagged with 'stepping stone'.
All designs are my own. If you make some stones I hope you use the opportunity to also create your own designs. Have fun!

I don't just play with concrete!! 

My mosaic art:

My sterling silver jewelry:

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