With all my experimenting with concrete and what can be done with it, one of my favorites is the garden markers or signs I make using new concrete forms or, using old, broken chunks of concrete than can be found when a sidewalk or patio is torn up, for example. I think the forms made are very attractive additions to the garden, patio, walkways, or anyplace your imagination can take you.
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Step 1: First Find Some Concrete Pieces
These pieces are from a neighbors torn up sidewalk. This is just one of many substrates I use. Others include bricks, rocks, cast pieces of concrete, tiles,and so on.
Step 2: Make Letter Form From Styrofoam
Here, I cut out letters from sheets of styrofoam. I take care to leave a good form and not cut the foam in a manner that it can't be used in one piece. The centers of "o", "p", "b", etc., have to necessarily be cut out, but saved, and used in the casting process.
Step 3: Use Material of Choice for Letters
I use several different cement products such as: thin set mortar, mortar itself, rapid set concrete mix, grout, both sanded and non-sanded, etc. All of these products work well, and some adhere to the concrete a little better than others. As in all art, it is an experiment to find what works in your application best.
Step 4: Let Letters Set Up Well
After letters have "dried" which really is a setting up process, styrofoam can be removed from the letters and concrete. I use dental tools, small screwdrivers, etc., anything that you can pry, cut, and simply remove the foam from your casting.
Step 5: Paint Lettering If Desired
Letters can be painted as I have done with these samples. Regular acrylic paint is used and is coated with a polyurethane gloss varnish. I will use 3 or 4 coats and this protects sign from water and rain.
Step 6: Add Broken Tile As a Mosaic
Break up some tile of choice into small pieces. These pieces are then glued into place using one of the adhesives shown: thin set mortar, tile adhesive, flexall, etc.
Step 7: Grout Art Piece With Your Choice of Grout
I have several different formulas of grout left from previous tile jobs in the house, or art projects I have worked on. I like to choose a contrasting grout when possible, as it seems to look better. I am not concerned about whether sanded or non-sanded is better as these are art pieces and will receive no traffic or use on them.
Step 8: Make Directional Signs
Which way is the beach?
Step 9: Place Your Art Pieces Into Use
The fun part of this project is completing them, and then placing them wherever you need or want them.