Make a Lawn Statue, Copied From (almost) Anything

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About: I'm a 7 year old genius with a MacGyver complex trapped in an adults body. Follow all my other projects on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/tinkering_guy/ Facebook https://www.facebook.com/tinkeringguy/...

Having a lawn statue is a great way to personalize your home. As a maker I really wanted to show my style and skills in my yard.

The Idea Behind Making A Copy Out Of Cement
I wanted to make small cement Moai head of my own. Actually I wanted to make as many as I can and line my yard with them. The plan would be to do this with the least amount of materials and at a low cost because after I'm finished with the run I probably wouldn't need them anymore.

Basic Plan,
The basic plan will be to use the item, my Moai head as a positive mold so we can make a negative mold in the dirt with it. Then we will put the cement in the negative mold to get our copy.

Supplies:

Tools
Large Basin, Tub or Wheelbarrow (this will be to mix the cement in. so be prepared to clean it out)
Drill with your choice of driver bit and screws (I like square recess and torx)
Rubber Gloves (I mixed the cement by hand but you could use a shovel)
Shovel (to break up the dirt and mix the cement)
A hose or buckets of water Small spritzer bottle 5 gallon bucket, This will be to mix the sand/topper mix in so be prepared to clean this out small
1 gallon bucket or anything to scoop out the cement (quart bucket etc) Materials Pile of dirt, you will need enough to place your item in that you want to copy
Planks of wood, enough to make a box around your pile of dirt and under it


Materials
Sand/Topping Cement Mix, One bag goes a long way
1 bag of Quickrete, Also one bag goes a long way
Tarp/Painter Tarp or large board if making the mold out doors Optional items stainless steel scouring pads
12in rebar

And most of all the thing you want to copy. I'm using a 2 foot tall 3D printed Moai. You could use other thing just try to choose something to complex like a cat statue but the key will be to what ever you want to copy it will end up with a flat back.
The other option for would be to make a negative mold by hand. You could draw a sun with big rays coming out of it or a welcome stone. The sky's the limit!

Cost: I don't plan to go into the details of cost on this project because most of the parts will cost different prices will vary because of where you live and you may or may not need to buy the tools. For me the Quickrete was around $4 a bag and the topping mix was around $7. So making 3 statues at a time it cost me about $7 for total for the 3 statues, materials only. I still have 2/3rds of the topping mix left. Really low cost for a simple project.

Step 1: Making the Dirt Mold

Make a pile of dirt at least twice as tall as the item you want to copy. Make sure to have enough dirt to make a really thick wall at the top. Use the wood planks to make a box around the pie of dirt if you need to control/hold the dirt in place. Scoop out the middle of your pile and push it toward the edges so it will help with the wall. Place your item facedown in the hole you dug out and pack as much of the dirt under t and around it as you can.
Pull out the item out and add dirt into the spaces that don't have the negative look of the item.

This will take several tries of putting the item in and out of the hole to to get right. Use the spritzer bottle to spritz water on the dry patches to make them smooth. I used a board at the bottom of the statue to ensure the bottom of the statue will be flat.

Pro Tips: Make sure is several inches deep in most parts so you don't end up with a thin section. One of my Moai heads has a very thin neck and i'm worried it will break the moment it falls over. If you really want to re enforce the cement you could add several stretched out stainless steel scouring pads. The smoother you make the mold in dirt the smoother the copy will be.

Step 2: Time for Cement

These steps will need to be done fast for the statue to come out right. Read through them all before starting and have all materials on hand to get the cement to the mold and in place before it dries. Wearing the rubber gloves, start with a small amount of topper mix cement in the 5 gallon bucket. For 3 heads I only used 1/3 of the 60 pound bag. Follow the instruction on the bag to get the mix right. I have mixed this before so I knew what the consistency should be so I mixed as I went but there are many Instructables on her to learn how to mix it just right. Make small batches of this because you will not need the whole bag.


The process is like this. Mix a small batch, around 2 or 3 hand fulls at a time. spread the topper mix with your hand around the face of the mold. This will b the front of the statue so we use the topper mix to be smoother. I needed to make a few small batches to smooth all the faces of the 3 molds. Now that the face is covered we quickly move onto the infill In the large tub/basin/wheelbarrow mix the Quickrete. Depending on the size of your mold you may not need the whole bag so eyeball the amount you need. Follow the mixing instructions on the bag for the most part. The key will to not add too much water. If you add to little it will harden faster and you will be able to tell while you are mixing it so you will have to add a little at a time. Again there are a lot of instructions on the internet on how to mix this so i don't want to go into this to deep. For this water does not add a lot of volume to the Quickrete so figure however much will fill the mold dry will be how much you need when you add the water and mix it.

If you mix it with your hands or a shovel make sure you get all the dry powder wet before pouring into the mold. Using the smaller container scoop out some of the Quicrete and pour it into the mold. You will want to move fast in order to get the mold filled before it starts to get to the consistency of playdoh. Also this is the part where you add the stainless steel scouring pad if you want to reinforce it. Stretch several pads out to the full lenght of the statue and layer the between the scoops of Quickrete. If you want to add the rebar add it now. Place it sticking out the bottom of the statue so that 6 inches is in the statue and 6 inches is out of the statue. When the statue is completely dry it will be a great way to stand it up on the ground by stabbing the rebar into the ground. Once the mold is full using your hand or the shovel smooth out the top. This is just my preference. If you want a rough back feel free to leave it rocky. The great thing about doing the smooth face and then the infill with Quickrete is that the topper mix will dry as fast as the Quickrete.

Now that the molds are filled cover them with something like a tarp or sheet of plywood. This will help protect them from rain or cats that like to use boxes of dirt as well, you know......

Now we wait. Even though it is Quickrete we are making something thick in some places and thin in others so for good measure I just wait 24 hours and pull the statue from the mold the next day but you can pull yours around 2 or 3 hours if you want.

Step 3: The Big Reveal

After waiting for the cement to dry for about 24 hours. It's now time to pull your creation. If all goes well you should have something that resembles the item you started with, well with a flat back anyway.
Pull the new head out of the dirt. It will be completely covered in dirt. Break off as much as you can. Using a hose and maybe a scrub brush clean the rest of the dirt off the statue.

Pro tip: if you have a pressure washer you could do a quick spray off.

Here is where you learn how smooth or rough your new statue is. I wanted it to be a little rough and it turned out great. The great thing I think about this project is that the materials are low cost and you can make another ones with what you learned very quickly now that you have all the tools assembled. Place them in your yard and enjoy.

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Stone Concrete and Cement Contest

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    24 Discussions

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    ChgoSue

    1 day ago

    Instead of a flat back, couldn't I just flip the item over and make a mold of the reverse, too? Of course I could. My real question is, how well would both sides hold together in outdoor weather if I then cemented them back-to-back with a layer of quickcrete once they're hardened? Or is there some other mixture that would hold up better for this application?

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    tinkering_guyChgoSue

    Reply 13 hours ago

    It should work if you place the back down on the concrete after you finish pouring it in. I have heard that concrete really likes to stick to concrete but it has to not be to old so maybe flip it onto the back part after only a few hours instead of the full 24. It should work i would think. Thanks for the idea i might try in my next batch. Let me know if you try it.

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    NigelL12

    Tip 1 day ago on Step 1

    I have done similar things in the past with quite good results. Ground limestone (used on the garden and bought from garden centres) and fine sand (the paler the better) are quite good at replicating limestone. Mixing in some finely sieved (1/4” or 6mm mesh) potting compost or peat, although I avoid this to try and help protect peat bogs, gives the finished product a more aged and weathered appearance. This can be further enhanced by keeping the piece damp and applying a regular slurry of watered down cow dung. An alternative is live yogurt which is far better if watered down with urine. Perhaps a little unsavoury but after a few weeks the results should be impressive.

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    karlbamforth

    3 days ago

    A fun project.
    Try using aircrete, it is lighter and will use less materials as well as being relatively easy to make.

    1 reply
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    tinkering_guykarlbamforth

    Reply 3 days ago

    Great minds think alike. I have been researching it alot lately. The basic idea behind this version was to not need any special tool though.

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    ryoung29

    3 days ago

    Great project. As a guy who's family has been in the ready-mix concrete business for over 60 years, I have a little technical correction for you. Cement is the powdery substance that, when mixed with water and aggregate makes concrete. It is generally agreed that when the cement hits water, it is then called concrete. It really grates on concrete men when people refer to the terms incorrectly, i.e.: Cement sidewalks, etc. :-)

    The real fun begins when they refer to concrete trucks as "cement trucks". There are such things as cement trucks... they haul cement to the concrete plants, but concrete trucks haul concrete. In a weird twist, concrete trucks can also correctly be called "cement mixers" because that is what they do!

    Just having some fun, great project!

    2 replies
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    GregÓ35tinkering_guy

    Reply 3 days ago

    Also, if I might add, concrete doesn't dry. That's the last thing you want to happen.

    Concrete hardens by the water chemically combining with the various constituents of cement. A little extra water is required to make the concrete fluid, and this can of course dry out in time, but it has nothing to do with concrete becoming strong.

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    austin.hall.129794

    3 days ago

    Pretty good idea :) I might try doing this with green sand however to get finer detail, which is moulding sand normally used for casting metal - or filter the soil first to get finer grains, mix it with some water to make a sort of "mud clay" then press the mould item into it and let it set off.

    1 reply

    Love the idea. I know that if the dirt has more natural clay in it it was smoother in those areas. I was just wanting a weathered look. Be sure to share how it turned out with us.

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    rnjenny

    3 days ago

    Nice! I really love instructibles that can be done with no special tools by everyone. This is great example.

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    tinkering_guyrnjenny

    Reply 3 days ago

    Thanks that was the plan for this. I didn't want to use anything that i wouldn't need again. Glad you like it

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    kz1

    3 days ago

    Do you think it would be feasible to line the hole with plastic kitchen wrap to make the surface a bit easier to clean after the concrete is set? It's pliable enough to conform to about any shape.

    3 replies
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    tinkering_guykz1

    Reply 3 days ago

    I have thought about some sort of liner. I think the thing that will not work with kitchen wrap will be the wrap really likes sticking to things. Maybe spray nonstick cooking spray on it? Or some other way to keep it from sticking to the item. My 3D print would be like glue to the wrap but other things may work better.

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    chefspensertinkering_guy

    Reply 3 days ago

    Nice job! Dollar Stores have cheap plastic table cloths...should do the job.

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    tinkering_guychefspenser

    Reply 3 days ago

    those might work better. Also cheap painters tarps. Thanks for the idea!

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    dabooge

    3 days ago

    Cement is Toxic. You don't want your hands in the stuff!

    1 reply
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    austin.hall.129794dabooge

    Reply 3 days ago

    *sigh* Try not to be so dramatic eh? Cement IS NOT "TOXIC" in the sense you are portraying - it IS CAUSTIC (skin burns at HIGH concentrations) - because it contains LIME, but as long as you're not taking a bath in it or exposing your skin to it for continual prolonged periods, there's no real issue.

    Cement mortar used to lay housing brick and blocks is the SAME THING - how many builders and brickies have you seen wearing protective gloves while building a wall?

    Being a builder I'll tell you - NONE! Except those with skin issues like Excema.

    I would however recommend that children wear gloves if they are going to use it for this sort of project.

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    VincentJ2

    3 days ago

    I love instructables that have pets in them!

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    WeTeachThemSTEM

    7 days ago

    This is a great idea! I don't know why I've never thought about making a dirt mold for concrete yard projects, but I'm really glad you shared this. :)