Make Pet Portraits in Concrete




About: Retired, doing art work now. Great. Have the time and the money to spend doing what I want to do.

I came up with this method to embed pet portraits into concrete. It is a way to make a permanent piece of art to display wherever you would choose to place it.  I have had acrylic lettering and paintings survive for several years outdoors and with a little care, they should last 10 years or more.

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Step 1: Gather Materials Needed

Few materials are needed for this project:

1. Hotwire machine
2. Concrete mix
3. Container for mixing concrete.
4.  Art supplies
5. Styrofoam sheet
6. Water
7. Molds of choice. (I used a cake pan for this project.)

Step 2: Prepare Name and Portrait

First I needed to cut some styrofoam to size wanted. I used the hotwire machine to slice the foam to about 1/4 inch. Letters for the name and the portrait itself can be cut from this piece.For complete instructions on styrofoam lettering, see my instructable        : 

Step 3: Layout Cutout Pieces in the Form You Will Use

I place the finished portrait and the letters into the mold when ready.  I have used paper in the mold to glue the letters and picture to as a safeguard to prevent styrofoam pieces from floating up into the concrete.  Using white glue, the letters and or picture can be glued to the metal, but is not as secure as the paper method.

Step 4: Pour Concrete Mix Into Form

When the glued down letters and portrait have dried, we can go ahead and pour the concrete.  Before pouring the mix into the molds, I use vegetable oil as a release agent by brushing the oil onto the sides of the pan.  Use very small amounts, and remove any excess oil with a paper towel.   I use the concrete mix shown, and have had good luck with it as is. That is, I have not found it necessary to add additives to provide for greater strength.  Plain mortar mix can be used as well, but have not used it too often, believing that the concrete mix is better.  When mixing the concrete, colorants can be added for the effects shown in some of the pieces. Add the liquid colorant to the water and not the dry mix!  I like a slightly liquid mix rather than a "stiff", or dryer, mix.  I use garage sale cake pans for these types of "stepping stones", as I like the smaller sizes.  Of course, commercial molds can be purchased for this type of work at any of the art stores.

Step 5: Let Set for 24hrs, Minimum

Poured pieces can be removed from the forms at 24 hours, but letting them sit longer will not harm them at all.

Step 6: Clean Up and Finish Stones

After a suitable curing, or setting time, I finish my art pieces by cleaning them up, brushing off any excess concrete, removing the paper and glue where it tends to stick, and so on.  Rinse stones off to get final appearance and place where they will not be bothered for a week or so. I usually just sit them in the shade on the patio, and they are good to go.

Step 7: Display Your Pet's Stone for All to See

Stones can be placed outdoors in the garden, walkways, on patios, pool decks, or anywhere you think it would enhance the area.  Enjoy!

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    10 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    So my understanding is the styrofoam kind of embosses the cement. After the cement is done curing you could remove the styrofoam and paper. Insert the shaped cut out picture of your pet in the recessed silhouette and fill the void with a polyester resin. Creating a long lasting durable stepping stone.

    Really love this instructable and can't wait to try it out myself.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    From the example with "Elmer" if you pour concrete on top of that aren't the letters reversed? The color insert is what? A picture laminated in clear acrylic glued to the concrete? Have you seen stained glass stepping stones? Thanks!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    In the finished work that has full color for the dogs and color on the name, I'm curious if this is painted or is the photograph...if it is painted, what type of paint works on concrete?

    Thanks for the instructional! Very nice work.


    8 years ago on Step 3

    So, the portrait survives being glued to the paper? I guess the poly makes it easy to get the glue off? This is the only step that concerns me. Could you use a photograph finished off in poly instead of artwork?

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 3

    Portraits come out fine, glue dissolves in the concrete, or rinses right off. I'm not sure the photograph would stick well enough. I have seen where people have embedded or laminated a photo then put that in the concrete, but have not tried that method. Experiment, it's the only way to find out.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Cool do you think i could make one with plaster or paris and make it a ornament or with air dry clay for like a plaque or something less cementy lol. Love it though.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I've not worked with plaster, but don't see why it couldn't work...give it a try! Thanks for the comment.