I really enjoy instructables. They get your creative juices flowing and are just a really neat hobby I find. I have been working recently making things out of concrete. I was walking through a store and found one of these cheap fiber optic lamps and wondered what it would look like encased in concrete. Turns out it looks pretty neat.
Stuff you will need
- Fiber optic lamp/with packaging (the container is used for the mold)
- Paint mixer
- Mason grade concrete
- Bucket of some sort
Step 1: Step 1. Concrete Powder and Safety Equipment
I am a very logic oriented person and assume you can figure things out with enough information. There are ver minimal helps with building concrete other than, "you'll figure it out." Basically if you've never worked with the stuff, practice a little bit and see how it behaves. In my experience I found using mason concrete to be helpful. You dont really have to worry about clumps and it is pretty smooth throughout. Good PVC gloves and a mask is valuable. Concrete dust is carcinogenic and concrete in powder form is caustic (causes cancer and can burn you). A deep bucket is very useful. I bought a fancy one for this instructable, but there is really no reason why you cant use a ice cream bucket or something along those lines. To pour out the powder just use an old yogurt container. Dont get fancy with these tools, I always end up just eye balling my measurements.
Step 2: Step 2-Mixing
This is probably the most crucial part of this project. Figuring out how much water to put in can be a little tricky. I like a consistency something like a cookie batter. Ambient temperature and humidity can all be factors in how your concrete hardens. I use a small/cheap paint mixer to mix up my concrete. Its better than anything I can do by hand and makes a pretty decently smooth mix. Curing time is also a point of consideration. Curing is basically the chemical process of change where your powder concrete absorbs moisture to become hard. Where this comes into play here is that if you think your mix is too wet you might need to let it sit longer. The process of curing can take any where from one day to 3 or 4 days. You really have to figure it out yourself. Again, if you've never worked with concrete before developing a familiarity with the product your using and the environment your using it in is crucial for success. One thing I've never been a fan of is doing test runs, but with concrete you can always benefit from some experience.
Step 3: Step 3-Preparing the Lamp
I bought a lamp from my local store and it came into a container that could act as a mold. One thing in my initial test runs that I learned was that concrete powder and electronic components don't mix. Realistically, its best to remove the light component prior to immersing it in concrete simply because the concrete will eat away at it while its hardening. In my case the whole casing was relatively simply and held on with three screws.
Step 4: Step 4: Pouring in the Concrete
What I really like about this project is that there is an element of chaos to it. You dont really need a ton of method to how you mix your concrete onto the container. If it does not look perfect, not to worry, the original product was kind of chaotic as well and that chaos gives it a neat effect when the light is on. The only real concern is that your mix concrete throughout and that it settles to the bottom. Fiber optics are surprisingly strong and one of the few mediums I have found that can survive concrete. I also added a few costume gems into the mix, just to give it some added fun.
Step 5: Step 5-Finishing
After you have poured it you need to let it cure. Give it two or three days. Patients is your friend. Some people would say that it is a good idea to immerse your project in water to add some additional strength to the concrete. I have not seen huge benefits there, but make your own judgement. After you have let it cured sufficiently, turn the lamp over and reinstall your lightning piece. One thing I found was that if you want to add some more character using a concrete polisher can add some more texture to your piece. Well, there you go. You should be good to go with a really neat conversation piece. There are lots of variations you could do with something like this like:
- 1.Add a arduino to the lightning for some Iot style effects.
- 2.Find a unique mold shape to put the concrete into
- 3.Throw the whole thing in a glass cooking jar to give it a different look
I have found most instructables can be done with a wide variety of variations so get creative.
Thanks for reading my first instructable. Feel free to post any comments and let me know what you think. I would love to hear any other ideas you might have about how to do some twists on this idea. Thanks again.