A cat I had become very close with passed away recently, and I buried her in my back yard. She was awesome and I didn't want to forget about her. I didn't want to forget the location of her grave, either. I am a incredibly frugal person (my husband and I are living on only 1 income) and I wanted to find a cheap way to make a memorial stone for her.
I found a way to do it, and it was an absolute success. I want to help all of you that are interested in doing the same, as it was a very fun project (considering the circumstances, of course).
**Thank you for viewing my tutorial! If you're interested in keeping up with my daily life, you can view my blog at www.thehauntedhousewife!**
Step 1: Gather Your Materials. Read the Warnings.
- Bag of mortar mix. Must be mortar. (Amazon Quikrete Mortar Mix 60lb bag for $5.99)
- A mold of sorts. Hobby Lobby has molds, but you'll be paying $5-$7 for a flimsy plastic thing you won't be able to reuse. I grabbed a box instead. $0 But here is a mold on Amazon you could use.
- Water. I put mine in an Edward Cullen container, so I didn't have to mess with the hose. $0
- Stone Stamps. (Amazon $6.20 for A-Z and 0-9) You can also use a stick, personal preference. I like the stamps.
- Optional: Marbles, broken pieces of glass, mosaic glass, Shrinky Dinks, etc. for decoration. I didn't use anything.
- A trowel for smoothing out the mortar. I used drywall scrapers instead.Here is a link to a good trowel.
- Something to stir with. I used a free Home Depot paint stirrer. It broke. Don't use those, you can also use your trowel or drywall scraper for stirring.
- A bucket. I had this one laying around, but Amazon also sells them.
- Optional: A laminated photo of your pet can be placed in the mortar, if you would like. I didn't do this. Please make sure it was laminated well.
- lay your materials out, make your plans beforehand. You've got limited time here.
- don't get the mortar on your clothes or your hair, I can imagine that's a pain to get out.
- don't get the mortar on your sidewalk, that's permanent.
- don't attempt to do this if your area is freezing, or going to freeze in anytime in the next 3 days.
- if it's going to freeze and you still need to do it, protect it from drying in freezing temperatures. (bring it inside, to cure)
- be prepared to work fast.
Step 2: Pour Mortar Into a Bucket. Add Water.
Pour some of the mortar into a bucket.It's better to have more, than less. If you don't put enough, you won't find out until you've already put it into the mold.
I poured a generous amount of the mortar mix into the bucket, and started adding little bits of water at a time until it has reached the desired consistency. Read the instructions on your bag of mortar. Different brands have different instructions, yours may be different.
Scrape down to the very bottom of the bucket, make sure you get every last bit of dried mortar mix. I ended up needing my whole container of water for the amount of mix in the bucket. Stir, stir, stir. This is the most tiring part of the whole process.
The Desired consistency is slightly crumbly, like thick mud. A half inch of the mortar should stick well to the trowel/stirrer while upside down without falling off. It should be too thick to pour into the mold. You will need to scrape it out with your trowel. If this is what you have, then congratulations... proceed to the next step.
Step 3: Place Mortar Mud Into the Mold, and Smooth It Out.
Scoop out the mortar and place it into your mold. A box was used in my case. Once it's all in there, pack it down and smooth it out. This part took a while, as I needed it to be perfect. I did remove some of the mortar because I found it was a little too much.
Get out all of the leaves, rocks, hairs, whatever else may have fallen into the mortar by accident. Use the trowel/scraper to smooth it out.
Step 4: Lettering/Designs/Decorating
If you've done everything correctly, your mortar should be super thick, and not runny at all. Poke it with something and make sure the mark stays put.
I didn't plan ahead, and my lettering is a bit off center. Of course, do as I say, not as I do. Please don't make the same mistake I did.
Use the stamps to make your letters by pressing them into the mortar. You'll notice toward the end, they'll take more effort to press in. You're running out of time at this point. You will still be able to get everything done, it will just take more pressure.
Make sure you spell everything correctly because depending on your speed, a mistake may be hard to fix.
The corner "designs" were done with my handy dandy drywall scraper.
If you were wanting to add mosaic glass, or marbles, now is the time to set them in place.
A laminated picture of your pet can be placed at this time as well. They will not sink (if they do, your mortar was too runny and you need to start over.)
Step 5: Drying... Done!
I let my stone dry in my garage for two days. Read the instructions on your bag of mortar for more specific drying times for your brand.
- protect it from freezing temperatures
- don't let it get wet
- don't let anybody or something step on it
- in a couple of days, remove it from the mold
- (it came out of the mold very easily)
The finish memorial stone came out great. I am very happy with how it came out, and I hope you are too. :)