These concrete mushrooms are a beautiful addition to any garden, and an excellent family project.
The idea for this project came from the book:Creative Concrete Ornaments for the Garden by Sherri Warner Hunter but we came up with some creative additions and shortcuts, making this project unique.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- Quick Crete Mason Mix
- Rocks, found items, interesting deep veined leaves (Hosta, Maple, Rhubarb all work well)
- Duct tape
- Metal or plastic tubs, buckets and bowls for sand casting
- Long nail / narrow rebar
- Wheelbarrow or bucket for mixing cement
- Knife, gyproc taping knife etc for carving and mixing.
Step 2: Mushroom Cap
- Pour sand into the container that you choose for your mushroom cap. Use a shallow bowl for a flatter cap or deep buckets for a taller, narrower cap.
- Wet the sand thoroughly so that it holds a shape when you squeeze it in your hand.
- The sand will give the shape for your mushroom cap. Once it is wet and form-able, scoop a depression in the middle of the sand in the shape that you want your final cap to be.
- Customize your mushroom cap! You can make holes or mounds in sand that will leave a shape in the top of the mushroom cap. You can embed agates, interesting rocks or crystals halfway into the sand - and they will end up sticking out of your mushroom cap. Another technique that worked well was laying interesting leaves into the sand so that their veins will make designs on the cap once you peel them away. Be creative!
- Mix Quick Crete mason mix as per the instructions on the bag – a wheelbarrow is the easiest place for mixing.
- Scoop Quick Crete mix into your mushroom cap sand depression being careful not to dislodge the rocks or leaves you may have put in place. Fill your cap depression completely.
- After the Quick Crete sets for approximately 30 minutes, push a long nail into the center of the cap and brace until it stands upright on its own. This nail will hold the stem in place.
- Allow the cap to set (as the instructions on the Quick Crete bag).
Step 3: Mushroom Stem
- Roll up some tarpaper into a length and shape that you like for your stem and tape it together with duct tape. We tried long skinny stems, short fat ones, and cone-shaped and they all turned out great!
- Place the stem mold onto the mushroom cap, making sure to centre it over the nail that you had embedded and allowed to set. It is easiest to leave the cap inside its container as it gives it something secure to sit in.
- Fill the tarpaper stem mold with Quick Crete.
- Place 1 – 3 nails or (even better) a piece of narrow rebar into the stem. Leave the nails or rebar sticking partially out of the stem. This will be used as a garden stake to make sure that your mushroom stands up straight.
- Allow Quick Crete to set as per bag instructions.
Step 4: Finishing Mushrooms
- Once the Quick Crete has set, peel off of the tarpaper from the stem and lift your mushroom carefully out of the cap container. It should be solid and stuck together well. If not, you can use some extra Quick Crete to glue it in place.
- You can carve into the mushroom cap and stem if you desire to shape them a little bit more - on the little agate mushroom (picture 3) we carved the edges of the mushroom cap for a fairy look Some of the larger mushrooms have carved stems.
- The Quick Crete bag instructions suggests that you should cure your concrete, but we did not do this. We left the mushrooms standing in the yard and occasionally watered them with the sprinkler. Some of our mushrooms have been outside in our northern yard and gardens for 2-5 years and have never cracked or disintegrated (This project is so fun - we've done it multiple times!).
If you like the look of these mushrooms, that's it! You're done! If you want to embellish a bit more, continue on to the next step.
Step 5: Embellishment
Make sure that your mushrooms are completely dry. Once they are, you can use acrylic paint to make more colourful mushrooms. Once you've painted them, spray them with clear outdoor satin base varathane.