Picture of Personalized Garden Stepping Stones
I started making these stepping stones this spring so decided to publish. I use a hotwire machine as can be seen in my other instructables on that subject. I find so many uses for the hotwire technique I don't know how a craftsperson can be without one! So many things, so much fun, very worth while! See "Hotwire Magic" on this site to get up to speed.

Step 1: Materials and tools needed for this project:

1. Form(s) for the stepping stone
2. Cement, mortar, sand, water, usual concrete items.
3. Buckets
4. Trowels, spreaders, etc.
5. Sponges
6. Cans or measuring cups to measure the various ingredients.
7. Styrofoam or EPS foam (To make letters for the name, message).
9. Hotwire machine...Mighty Goliath! (See my instructable: making the mighty goliath).
10. Backer or bottom board for the mold. Letters will be glued to this board, and the board serves as the bottom of the mold.

Step 2: Build or Select Forms to be used.

I have made bricks with names also, so have shown some brick forms. For the stepping stones shown, I used a commercially available "walkmaker". These can be found at big box stores. The last time I checked, they were about $13.00. I want to use the largest of the stone shapes as my form. As shown, the form is oriented the way it would be if I wanted to pour a section of walkway. For this use,however, the form is inverted, so that the molded edge will be on the correct face of the stepping stone.

Step 4: Glue or Pin Letters to A Foam Blank.

The choice depends on whether you want to resuse these letters. I have alphabets to use, so I pin them on the foam blank. If they are glued, they will be destroyed in the process. It's very easy to cut more, however.
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r-philp5 years ago
You could also dissolve the styrofoam easily with lacquer thinner.
What is lacquer thinner? Is it methanol or acetone or something else? Mineral spirits perhaps?
Lacquer thinner is an acetone based solvent. Nail polish remover is essentially lacquer thinner. (which would work too.) It might save you quite a bit of time picking at the foam. A dip in some acetone solvent, and a rinse with water, and you should be done. It's probably worth a try on a small project.
Regular Styrofoam will dissolve easily in gasoline, as well.  I think that would be even cheaper than lacquer thinner or mineral spirits.
Yup, and you'd be left with a little backyard napalm.
I wasn't planning on making an Instructable about it, but yes, that's true!
What is the difference between cement and mortar?
Graham564 years ago
Hi Creativeman If you put a bit of peat/soil in your concrete mix it would look a lot more natural--weather'ed, I've done this with an old sink in the garden (put sand, peat, concrete mix on It).............Very good idea, I like your way of lettering the concrete I'm going to give this a go. Graham56
Creativeman (author)  Graham564 years ago
Thanks Graham56...I like your idea, any chance of seeing a picture of that sink? What are the ratios/volumes of the mix? Sounds good. Cman
Hi Cman The mix for the sink are 1 part cement 1 and a half parts peat 1 and a half parts sand (sharp if you've got it) I'm having a bit of trouble uploading the pic's but you will get em--- er hang on----
Looks really good, but i don't know what a hot wire is.
Search for Hot Wire on Instructables. There are Instructables on how to make one.
O.K thanks :0)
noxelt5 years ago
Has anyone tried doing it right-side up and pressing the foam letters in (forward-facing) and smoothing the surface? I am wondering what the avantages of doing it upside down are? Terry
dchall8 noxelt4 years ago
I think the advantage to doing it upside down is that all the bubbles float to the top. If you want a perfectly smooth surface, put the foam pieces on the bottom of the mold.
DebH575 years ago
Now yanno CMan you put my garden stones to shame here. You did an excellent job on this, professional appearance. V+5. You can make one with my name on it anytiime (hint, hint - jk)
3366carlos5 years ago
What is the Mighty Goliath? This sounds like something I could do. I am 70 yrs. old, but would love to make these for my garden.
Creativeman (author)  butterfly11105 years ago
Photo 5 of this step shows the hot wire machine, Mighty Goliath. Cman
DaveNJ5 years ago
Cman - I am assuming you used mortar cement (1 part mortar to 3 parts sand) and not the cement with gravel in it? thanks!
Creativeman (author)  DaveNJ5 years ago
You are correct sir! Cman
ChrysN5 years ago
Very cool, I also like your painted rocks; the bunnies, cats, tomato and mouse, they are adorable.
Creativeman (author)  ChrysN5 years ago
Thanks Chrys. Cman
karrotsp5 years ago
I see some wonderful Christmas gifts coming my friends way. Thanks so much and I am going to give the acetone idea a try. Keep the great ideas coming.
Creativeman (author)  karrotsp5 years ago
You are welcome....let me know how the acetone thing works. I tried it a time or two, and it leaves a gooey, gluey mess which was harder to clean out than the foam, alone. (It melts and doesn't "evaporate".) Cman
Very cool. We have been using old pizza boxes for forms to make square stones and painting them. I love this way to add names to them. I have lots of sheets of foam I have saved for various other projects. I see Christmas presents ahead:) Thanks for sharing. (BTW I got the pizza boxes free at the hotel where I worked. If you have a friend that works at one just check in on the morning after a bunch of kids in sports or church groups have been in. They get stacks of them out of every room. Also a great source for light bulbs and toilet paper rolls.)
Creativeman (author)  villagecraftsmith5 years ago
Thanks VC...thanks for the suggestions as well. Cman
Forgot to mention, I line the pizza box with butcher paper.
sleeepy25 years ago
You know a Sheri and a Shari, and they both garden?
ntheiring5 years ago
Very nice, This is an awesome instructable! Where did you get the foam cutter? Thanks.
Dale 19445 years ago
Thank you so much for this creative use of concrete. Many printers have a "mirror image" setting in the set up screen. This setting makes it easier to do the letters if you could cut the letters and foam at the same time. Even if that would not work, you could use it to make the template for attaching the foam letters to the backer board. If the message size is larger than your printer format (in most cases 8 1/2" X 11",) many printers have a "tile image" feature which will allow you to tape together two or more pages making this step easier. As you have probably figured already, I have no creative ability so I have to use these workarounds to compensate! Thanks again for this great article.
DaveNJ5 years ago
Great stuff as usual. Very well done! I will try this out.
theRIAA5 years ago
sweet! I would recommend a pressure washer for the foam removal, and you can easily paint the inside of the letters for some contrast (:
richardsalt5 years ago
Many thanks. And beautifully illustrated with pics. :-)
Mr. Rig It5 years ago
SWEET! I have to do this.