Introduction: Concrete Lighted Step Spook
Isn't concrete just amazing?! And draping opens a whole new dimensional art form. But don't worry, this tutorial is quite easy as he is a little fellow that is quite portable. He'll sit on your step and scare the bad ghosts away... Oh, by the way; it's super cheap to make... mostly things you'd through away anyways!
Step 1: Gather Your Stuff...
This is extremely low cost. After using many disposables for casting concrete I always look at containers destined for the trash/recycle in a new light. There are so many amazing shapes to be had. (but try not to pilfer through other peoples garbage) I substituted this fleece for the terry towel since I like the strength that polyester has. Fuzzy polar fleece has so much fuzziness to hold the concrete. The more fibres, the more can it hold the concrete.
- a large 2 litre plastic pop bottle (sealed and full of water)
- Duct tape or packing tape
- approximate 6" sponge ball (dollar store)
- paint mix stick
- styrofoam meat tray
- 2 small baby food jars
- 2 longer thin juice jars
- plastic sheeting or bags
- fabric that will absorb concrete (towel or fleece)
- Portland Cement, water, mixing utensil/container
- cheap acrylic paint
- basic flat paint brush
Step 2: Make the 'body' Structure
Position the ball to the front of the bottle neck to represent the head. Tape it up the back and around the front. This type of ball ensures that there won't be any deflating or bursting. I really HATE when a ballon covered in concrete bursts! It's like being sneezed on. Choose a ball that is soft enough to be able to cut up later.
Secure around the 'head' from the back.
The shoulders seemed too wide so I cut the paint stir stick a couple inches shorter.
It doesn't need to be perfect, just shorter.
The small baby-food jars are meant to be the shoulders as they have a nice roundness. Test how the proportion to the head is.
Tape the jars on across the back. He's taking shape quite nicely... The arms will be draped fabric. For the upper legs/ thighs I used longer jars and a meat tray to have something to anchor them to. I also chose items that could be cut or broken later on or that could stand the elements.
To make it a bit more realistic I propped one leg up a bit with some plastic bag.
Secure the legs to the tray with some tape. The torso/bottle has a fair bit of weight so it will stand on its own pretty well. Look at him from all the directions to imagine his proportions once the draped fabric is added for the arms and legs. Good job! Minimal expense ('garbage', a dollar-store ball and a couple feet of duct tape).
Step 3: Prepare Fabric and Form
Now it's time to go outside since it may get a bit messier... (I had added some flaps for hands but they didn't really help so you can omit them). Cover him in some plastic sheeting or bags. I set him on a step so that the length of draping would be proper for his final 'resting place'.
Time for a dry-fit. I used 3 pieces of fabric. One for the hood (about 14" x 10") legs/pants (about 14 " x 14") jacket (16" wide x 14" tall) It is very forgivable so a bit larger won't matter. Different fabric may need more for more draping as well. If you have excess it is better than not enough. Working with fabric, you can cut extra off, but not add on, keep that in mind. Just use the extra for draping and folds.
Step 4: Mix Your Concrete
Put a couple scoops of portland cement in a bucket and slowly add water. Add a couple squirts of acrylic paint (I used white) but you could use whatever colour you prefer. The acrylic paint will help bind the concrete
Mix it well until it's like a milkshake thickness. Make sure there are no lumps. I like to save the old kitchen utensils for this. A cake mix or concrete? Very much the same...
Step 5: Dip and Drape the Fabric
Put the hood piece in the bucket first and knead it so that the cement gets into the fibres. It will take a fair amount of squishing. If it gets too dry add a touch of water as the fabric draws out the moisture.
Plop it over the head and adjust the draping. Smooth it out and form the folds.
Do the same with the 'pants' and tuck in at the sides. Make sure the pieces are well saturated with the slurry. That is what will give the strength.
Lastly the jacket goes on. Work it over the shoulders and around the front working the folds evenly. Tuck the ends on the 'lap' where the hands would be. Look at it from all directions.
Amazing how easily it comes together. You can fuss with the draping as much as you want. The fuzziness of this fabric made it very rough. Very 'mud-monster-like'! If you like it smoother you can brush down the texture. Once you are happy, give him a chance to rest and cure. Depending on the weather and temperature it could take 24 to 72 hours. I covered mine since it was quite cold here. You don't want to rush it.
If you are interested I have made concrete orbs that have stood the test of time quite well (same method).
Step 6: Pull Out His 'insides'
Finally... more fun. Now it's time to pull the 'guts' out! Make sure he is sturdy and rigid enough and then flip him on his back. I left the front very open so that I could pull out the structure. I cut(stabbed) the bottle to empty it and started to disassemble the inside. The jars could possibly stay since they are glass. The bottle would freeze so I wanted it out and make his torso empty as a ghost.
Cut the ball into wedges to pull out carefully. Cut at the tape, squish the bottle and twist out. Pull the meat tray from the bottom. The jars may stay if they don't budge.
Pull out his head...
There you go! He's now body-less. A true SPOOK!
Step 7: Finish Off the Concrete
You could be happily done now or if you are like me, want to perfect the texture.... Mix up a bit of cement slurry with some acrylic paint and water.
I want this guy to last for years so this will also reinforce any parts that were not quite hard enough.
Brush across the rough texture and it will become filled with the cement.
It will get smoother and stronger.
There's something strangely therapeutic about this... hmmm.
Wowsa, I'm so impressed how much personality he has. He sits nicely on the step as he was cast there. His weight distribution keeps him sitting quite well. He can sit on any stair or even a rock in the backyard.
Step 8: Add Lights and Admire Your Work
To add light there are many options. I just put a set of battery operated lights into the open body cavity. For something more permanent you could run a small light cord if that is close by and not a tripping hazard. There is much room in there to do as you like. Perhaps even a solar light or real patio candle would be nice with the flicker.
I like the fact that he is portable and can sit anywhere. He weighs about 8-10 pounds I think. Once he is completely cured he will be lighter. Since he is hollow through to where he sits the water from rain will not pool inside so there won't be a problem with freezing and thawing.
Oh so spooky! And he will be able to withstand all the elements to protect your place year round! Check out some of my other cool concrete projects here. Word of warning; concrete casting has a habit of becoming an addiction. (as seen here trying to get one last project done before the frost sets in...)