Introduction: Nature Inspired Water Basin With Shapecrete

About: Founding board member of theMakerStation, a new makerspace in Marietta, GA

Our local makerspace, the Maker Station in Marietta Georgia, recently participated in an Instructables build night for ShapeCrete moldable concrete supplied by Cheng Concrete.

ShapeCrete has an awesome projects website with tons of inspiring ideas. I was kinda blown away when I found this casting of a leaf, which gave me an idea to try to make a basin/bird bath out of cast leaves. My wife is really into frogs, this past spring she collected some frog eggs from a local creek and brought them home to our backyard for some backyard science with the kids.
She put the eggs in a plastic container full of water and over the span of spring and into summer, the kids got to watch the eggs hatch into tadpoles and then the tadpoles turn into frogs. They ended up calling it the frog sanctuary... I thought that wasn't quite right calling it a "sanctuary" when it was a plastic container so I decided to try to make a leaf shaped basin based on the ShapeCrete tutorial:

Step 1: Basin Shape Mold and Leaves

  1. We first got together at our makerspace for a build nite. Woot!
  2. We had a bag of building sand and decided to use the bag as the basic mold for the basin.
  3. In preparation for this project, earlier in the day, we collected the biggest leaves that we could find from our garden
  4. We placed the leaves upside down covering the bag of sand with them... the leaves were overlapped as needed to cover the bag. The sand remained in the bag.
  5. Once the bag was covered, we prepared the concrete mix

Step 2: Prepare the Concrete Mix

  1. We wore rubber gloves for protection
  2. We didn't read any directions and simply added water to the concrete powder mix until it had a good consistency, like cake batter consistency.. a little thick
  3. We used an old discarded egg beater to mix it up... it worked great
  4. If the mix was too watery, we simply added more concrete powder

Step 3: Apply Concrete Mix to the Mold

  1. Following the guidance from the ShapeCrete website and video, we simply applied the mix by hand to the mold
  2. We repeated this until we ran out of concrete, at which point we mixed up more per the previous step
  3. And we applied the concrete to the mold until it was all covered
  4. We also did a couple of smaller leaves for fun

Step 4: Drying and Curing

  1. Once the mold was fully covered, we let it cure for about 20 mins
  2. Next we added a little more concrete to the top to give it a bit more mass and a thicker base.
  3. Lastly we let it dry and cure for 24 hours... actually we let it sit for two days, because busy with work

Step 5: Removing the Leaves

  1. After the concrete had cured, dried, and hardened, we flipped the basin over and removed the leaves
  2. Some came off easy, and others we needed to brush off
  3. We used an old tooth brush to get the leaves off without scratching up the surface of the concrete

Step 6: Fill With Water

  1. Finally we took the new basin out to the garden and filled it with water
  2. Now we have a better frog "sanctuary"

Thanks Instructables and Cheng Concrete for supporting these Maker Space Build Nites! I would have never done a project like this without an opportunity like this.


If you are in the Atlanta area, come check out our makerspace in Marietta.

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