Our Gardens are a place of therapy, solitude, a place where we can express our gardening skills, get our thoughts together and enjoy planting anything that suits our fancy. It is like our outdoor bedroom or office that is a soothing place to go to.
So why shouldn't we decorate these personal, sometimes private places as we do those same places in our homes to suit our liking?
I enjoy making stepping stones for my garden and have done many different styles from animals, to glow in the dark and even Memorial Stones for loved ones and pets. They are as useful as they are decorative and not too hard to make.
They do require o few days to make because of drying times but otherwise its a project you can involve the whole family, including kids around 6 years old and up.
Step 1: Gather Materials
You will need:
Cement Mix (I used 7 lbs. for this project)
Cement Colorant, optional
Mosaic Bits or Broken Glass Pieces
Stirring Sticks or an old wooden spoon
Paper (disposable bowl)
Flat Head Screwdriver
Rubber Gloves if using a colorant
Eye Protection (Because of Dust)
Breathing Protection (Because of Dust)
Step 2: Color Your Medium
Pour cement mix and colorant into a bucket and mix well. If you have a large plastic container with a lid that you dont mind not being able to use again you can shake and roll it around to mix. This should take 3 5 minutes to mix completely.
Set aside 1/4 cup of the mixture in a disposable bowl to use later for grouting.
Note: 1/4 cup is usually plenty unless you will be grouting large spaces.
Step 3: Mix Your Medium
Add enough water to your mix in the bucket to bring it to a almost pudding like consistency. I used 1 3/4 cups of water here for 7 lbs of mix.
Place your mold on a board large enough to hold the entire mold securely and scoop up some of the mix then slap it into the mold with enough force to fill the intricate design area.
Step 4: Filling the Mold -1
Fill the mold about half full and then lift the edge of the board and bounce or slap it down on your work surface many times to help get air bubbles out.
Note: You need to bounce the board many times as the mixture is very thick.
Step 5: Filling the Mold - 2
Continue to fill the mold and repeat bouncing the board. Use an old sponge to wipe off excess around the rim, this makes trimming your rough edges much easier on the finished stone.
Move the mold still on the board to an area where it can sit undisturbed for 1 to 2 days.
After a few hours when the cement has begun to set up take a small craft stick and drag it across the surface to remove uneven lumpy spots on the bottom that will cause your stone to sit unevenly when it is done.
Clean up the rim again if necessary.
Step 6: Unmolding Your Garden Stone
After your mold has set and dried gently lift the whole mold (do not lift it by the edges) then flip it over onto the board.
Starting at the edges gently lift around the mold and let it pop loose until the entire mold is released.
Brush away any loose material with your hand and give your stone a few hours of open air drying and curing time for the area that was at the bottom of the mold.
Notice the darker areas that are dry to the touch but not quite all the way dry.
Step 7: Trim and Clean
Take a flat head screwdriver and use it to scrape around the edges to smooth and cleanup the lines around the base of the stone
Step 8: Prepare Your Garden Stone for Decorating
Here I glued the eyes in place because I wasnt putting anything else in this area. Then I began fitting in the Mosaic pieces (but not gluing them yet) like puzzle pieces.
Leave about 1/8 inch space between pieces to leave room for the grout that will be used to keep them permanently in place.
Step 9: Decorating Your Garden Stone - 1
Once you are satisfied with your Mosaic pieces arrangement add drops of glue to the pieces and set them back in the mold. I found that after gluing I needed to add a few small bits to fill in some places.
Give the glue time to set up, 30 minutes or so and you are ready to begin grouting around the Mosaic pieces.
Step 10: Grouting Your Garden Stone
Take the bowl with the mix you set aside and begin adding water by the tablespoon until you have the same consistency as you used earlier.
Using a gloved hand press the grout into the tiled area pressing it firmly into the openings. Dont be concerned about getting it on the Mosaic pieces; we will clean it up later. I also grouted around the eyes.
Step 11: Cleaning Your Garden Stone
Taking a very slightly damp sponge begin wiping over the Mosaic pieces from the inside out, brushing the excess grout off of your stone. You need to rinse your sponge out and repeat this several times. Be careful not to remove too much of the grout as more can be cleaned off later.
Note: Rinse your sponge outside using the spigot, you dont want to put cement down your inside drains.
Set the stone aside again and allow the grout to dry over night.
When the stone is completely dry wash it with a little dish soap and water to get the remaining haze off the Mosaic pieces on your stone.
Step 12: Add Some Personal Touches
I wanted to add a little more of a decorative touch to my stone so I used a stained glass medium to outline the mouth and nose so it would stand out better.
Step 13: The Finished Product
This is how my Garden Stepping Stone turned out.
Note: You should let your garden stone set at least one week to cure and firm up in a place where no weight will be placed on it.