Stepping Stones   2 comments

Taking a short break from posting about my singleness travails to post this DIY on stepping-stones.  I’ve wanted to try this for years, and now that the yard is slowly (oh so slowly) getting landscaped I thought some personalized, customized stepping-stones would brighten things up.  My sister has a co-worker who has done pottery for many years, and she got lots of “seconds” from her.  Pieces that had cracked or broken or for whatever reason did not turn out right.  So I had a lot of pieces of pottery to work with, in a variety of colors.  You can also buy mosaic material from web sites, or go to junk yards and buy pieces of different things there.  The junk yards will have tiles you can break up, broken glass, stones, etc.  Use your imagination and have fun with it.

I searched the internet for “stepping stone molds” and ordered a few that I liked.  I bought 10 pound bags of cement, which was a size I could handle myself.  The next size up is 60 pounds, which is too large to move by myself and if you don’t use it quickly it can harden.  Plus, I had no place to store it inside.  I also got a beginner mosaic “kit” from a mosaic internet site.  It came with some colored glass tiles, but it also had a tile nipper, glass cutter, and protective goggles.  All important equipment.

I already had a “saw horse” (Black and Decker triangle stand) and a piece of plywood to put on top.  You could do this on the ground also, but for me it is easier to work standing up.  I covered the ground with a blue tarp as the broken pottery ends up in little bitty pieces that I didn’t want on the ground.

Your designs could be as detailed or abstract as you like.  I do better with abstract, and with the pieces I ended up getting they lent themselves to that anyway, so that’s pretty much what I did.  So this was my work area:

The cement block is there to break the pottery on.  Once they are in small enough pieces I can make further cuts with the nippers or glass cutters.  I found, with my material, that the nippers tended to shatter and cut in unexpected ways, whereas the glass cutter could make smaller and finer cuts.  It does take strength to press them to the tile/pottery, and if you do a lot of it your hand can hurt.  I’ve got some piles of pottery on the ground already, as I broke up white brown and green for a mountain I wanted to make, and you can see the molds on both tables.  Here is a close up of some of my tools on the table:

Empty mold on the right (you can see I’ve used it before), and I’ve laid out a pattern in the one on the left.  These are 8″ squares, which are really too small for good stepping-stones, unless you put them together.  Once I have laid out my tiles in the mold, I take them out (laying them on the plywood in the same pattern) and then mix my cement.  These 8″ squares take 5 pounds of concrete each.  The 18″ rounds I have take a whole 10 pounds, but they could actually hold about 12-13 pounds to be full up to the top.  Follow package directions to add enough water.   What I found was that if you make the mixture a little on the wet side it is better.  Remember you can always add more water, but it is hard to take water away once it has been added.  Add, mix, add a bit more, mix again, and keep doing that until the consistency is right.  Make sure everything gets mixed.  This takes muscle and something strong to mix with!  Then, pour it into the empty mold:

You want to press the cement into the mold, not leaving any gaps or air bubbles.  This takes a bit of muscle.  Any flat surface will do – I used the back of a wooden spoon until I found a cement trowel.  Then I pick up the mold and bang it on the table a couple of times.  Make sure the top is even.  You have about 15 minutes before the cement starts to get hard to place your tiles. 

Place your tiles, making any adjustments necessary, and then press them into the cement.  These stones will be for actually walking on, so I wanted the surface as flat as possible.  If you are making something decorative or not to be walked on, just make sure the tiles are secure in the cement.  Smooth out the cement, as necessary, as you go.  Here is my “mountain”:

Now I will let this sit for two days.  Outside or in doesn’t matter. As long as it is protected from water and it is not too humid outside you can keep them outside.  I found a full 48 hours is needed for the cement to dry thoroughly. 

When I am ready to unmold, I move the mold a bit, pulling it this way and that away from the cement.  Holding onto the cement, I carefully flip it over (sometimes they slide right out, and you don’t want them to do that as you are flipping them) and place them on the ground or plywood.  I tap the bottom with a screwdriver and then hold onto the frame and jiggle it up until the stone slides out.  Sometimes I gently bang the frame on the ground or plywood.  It will slide out – just keep coaxing it.  Then, gently turn over — and you have a stepping stone! 

Here are some of the ones I’ve created already:

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2 responses to “Stepping Stones

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  1. Maureen:
    I love this kind of information It is so wondrous…creating beauty from…something not thought of as beautiful.

    Lovely…I hope someday to live where I could use it. Someday!

    Jaye

  2. This is art…OMG! What an eye…all I can say is JEALOUS!
    love the pics and the settings…
    Jaye

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