Introduction: Rice Textured Vase/Planter

I was at my aunts house when I saw two beautiful square vases. I asked for the price, it cost her almost 15dollars for the two set. I was like “I can make the two of those for a fraction of that cost and then sell them, it’s just cement” So I set out to make something very similar to that.


1. Cardboard sheets

2. Hot glue

3. Cement and river sand(or mortar mix)

4. Paint( acrylic, enamel or spraypaint)

5. Paint brush

6. Sandpaper

7. Rice grains( For texture)

8. Flat plastic or wooden surface

9. White glue

10. Hand gloves( things will get sticky)

Step 1: Making the Mold

The mold could have been made of sheet of ply wood or ceiling board for reusability and durability. But if you just want to make one or two vases, then cardboard will work just fine. It’s best to use thick corrugated cardboard or the ones from old hardcover books for the outer mold and thin cardboard for the inner mold.

Cut four square pieces of cardboard each 12cm by 12cm by 12cm in size and then hot glued them together into a square with the corrugation lines lying horizontally(see images above). This to to help prevent the sides of the square mold from bulging out when the wet cement mixture is added. This will be the outer part of the mold. If you were to measure the the square, you’ll see that it’s not a perfect square. That’s okay since we’re not building a Rocket. Repeat the same process for the inner mold 9cm by 9cm by 9cm in size (so that each side wall of the planter is 1.5cm thick). Cap one hollow end of the inner mold with a square piece of cardboard.

Step 2: Aligning the Molds

Glue the outer mold on top of a flat plastic, glass or wooden surface. This is the base. Next, fill the inner mold with damp sand and level off the surface. This is to prevent the inner mold moving around when the cement mixture is being poured. Place the outer mold with base on top of the inner mold(front with sand facing up) and flip the two upside down. You should now have the open end of the inner square filled with sand on top of the base inside the outer mold. Again, refer to the pictures above.

To align the two molds so that each planter wall has roughly the same thickness, look at the two molds from above and use your eyes to judge if they are equally spaced out. Also try to view it from different angles.

Step 3: Casting

First Sieve the river sand to remove tiny stones.
Use a small container to measure 1 part cement to 2 part river sand and mix thoroughly. Add water in small quantities until the mixture is more of a liquid than a solid or until it is “pourable” . Be careful not to add too much water as will weaken the cement. Use a brush to lightly coat the inner surface of the outer mold and the outer surface of the inner mold with cooking oil to prevent the mixture from sticking to the walls.
Slowly pour the mixture into the mold in a circular manner until it’s full. Use something like a ruler or popsicle stick to flatten the top(actually bottom) side of the almost done vase. Cover the vase with a plastic sheet and allow the mixture to cure for at least 24hrs before proceeding.

Now depending if you want to use the vase with real plants or artificial flower, For real plants, you will need a drainage hole at the bottom of the vase. This can be made when the mixture is thick enough to allow a hole to be made( about an hour into drying) by using a fork to poke three sets of holes at the bottom.

After curing for at least 24hrs, the vase is now strong enough to handle but not at its full strength. Flip the vase and mold upside down and gently wiggle the outer mold while pulling it up until the vase eventually comes out. If like me you forgot to coat the molds with oil, then you will have to tear it apart. With the inner square filled with sand still inside the vase. Use a rough grit sandpaper to sand flat the bottom of the vase.

Step 4: The Texture

Place the vase on a plate then one side at a time, brush a layer of white glue and sprinkle some rice all over the side. Use a flat plastic or object and tap on the rice till it’s compact enoug. Use a brush to gently apply a layer of glue on top of the sprinkled rice. You can repeat the process again until the entire face is covered or until you’re satisfied with the result. Do this for the next face and allow the two faces to dry for a couple of minutes before repeating the process for the next two faces. Use a small fan to speed up the process. Do this for the top of the vase.
Once everything is dry, apply one more layer of glue to the rice.

Step 5: Painting

Time to bring out the inner artist in you. Now this depends on what you have available. You can use either acrylic paint, spray paint or gloss(enamel paint). If you use acrylic paint or acrylic spray paint , you may have to give the vase a layer of clear vanish to give it a protective coat and shine. But if you don’t want the shine, you can skip the vanish. Alternatively , if you use enamel paint or gloss spray paint, then you may not need to apply vanish. Acrylic paint comes in a variety of colours and you can also easily mix different colours together. Or you can just use emulsion paint and then apply vanish. I used enamel paint for mine without vanish.

Step 6: Taking Things Further

You can make or use a small box, and experiment with different textures using different grains and object such as millet, sesame seed, spaghetti sticks, toothpicks etc. Really just experiment with whatever you can find. It also helps to check Pinterest. You’ll see tons of different designs.
If you want to make let’s say 6 of this, then instead of having to make 3 or 6 sets of inner and outer molds, you may want to consider making the outer mold out of something like ply wood, MBF wood, plastic or simply 3d print it(wish I have one). If you want more design, then you can simply buy silicone square molds online on sites like Etsy, Amazon etc. They have beautiful molds. Pictures above

If you’re still here, I’d assume you like this instructable, then click on the like button..

Sticky Stuff Speed Challenge

Participated in the
Sticky Stuff Speed Challenge