Stepping stones are an easy way to add functional creativity to your garden. Here's a simple and inexpensive way to make your own in just 10 easy steps.
Mold. This can be made out of anything that will hold cement: pizza boxes, disposable pie tins, cake pans, vinyl pot saucers, plastic take-out containers, etc.)
Non-stick agent. This will "grease" your mold so the finished stone releases easily from the mold. You can use Vaseline, cooking spray, or plastic wrap.
Quickrete (or other fast-setting concrete). If you want to add embellishments, choose a product with a sandy texture for a smoother finish.
A bucket, stir stick, and large spoon. A one gallon ice cream pail is large enough to hold cement for one mold the size of a pie tin.
Chicken wire or hardcloth. This will give the finished stone extra strength. Cut a piece to fit your mold before you mix up the concrete.
Embellishments. Use your imagination here!
Protect your work surface. It's helpful to use a piece of plywood or another movable surface for your work surface so you can move them to another location for curing. Then cover it with an old tarp, vinyl table cloth, or lawn-sized trash bags.
"Grease" your mold. Cover your mold with a heavy coating of cooking spray, Vaseline, or line the bottom of the mold with plastic wrap. This will help your stone release easily from the mold. Pizza boxes, plastic saucers, and pie tins generally don't need to be sprayed. Simply peel the sides of the mold away from the stone after it sets.
Mix up the concrete. Follow the directions according to the product's package. If necessary, add in more mix or water until the mix reaches the consistency of thick brownie batter. Take care to protect yourself with eyewear, gloves, and a face mask. Concrete dust can be hazardous when inhaled, and once mixed, cement can cause severe burns upon contact with your skin.
Scoop half of concrete mixture into the mold. Level out the surface by gently tapping it on your work surface.
Add chicken wire. Press the edges down so that no sharp ends are sticking up.
Scoop remaining concrete into mold.
Tap the mold gently (several times) on a hard, flat surface. This will level the surface and help release any air bubbles that might be trapped.
Add embellishments. Press them gently into the surface. Use stones, tiles, stained glass, leaves, pine cones, pot shards, scrapbooking embellishments, or whatever captures your imagination. Letters and numbers made specifically for stamping imprints into stepping stones can be found at most large craft stores. Cookie cutters are also great for stamping and making imprints.
Let it cure. Leave your stone to dry for 2-3 days before attempting to remove it from the mold. Plan to let it cure for at least another week before taking it outdoors and walking on it. As the stone continues to harden, mist it with water once or twice a day and keep it covered with plastic wrap. This will prevent it from drying too quickly and give it added strength.
Mix up only enough concrete to make one mold at a time.
Grease your mold, cut your chicken wire to size, and lay out your embellishments BEFORE mixing up the cement. Depending on what cement product you use, once it's mixed it usually sets up within a matter minutes.
DON'T wash cement products down the sink! To save your bucket to reuse, wipe it out with moist paper towels and throw them in the garbage.
Change the final color of the stone by adding acrylic or latex paint or cement dye to the mix. Stones decorated with paint after they cure should be sealed before being placed outdoors.
Place stepping stones in the ground so that no more than 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the stone breaks the surface of the ground. This will protect the stone from cracking while being walked on and help people avoid tripping.
I got some stepping stones the other day for a little over a dollar a piece. I wanted to "jazz" them up a bit. I've seen all these cute footprint pictures on Pinterest. So, I put my kids' feet to work and made these little bugs and flowers, using patio paint (found in craft stores). The other 3 plain footprints are from last year. I love seeing how much they have grown.
Make sure to follow the directions on the bottle. The paint needs to cure for 3 days before getting wet. You could also use patio paint to decorate your stones any way that you would like. Just let your inner artist come out!
No need to buy a 'stepping stone form' to create your garden stones; just dig a hole 4 inches deep in the desired shape wherever you want the stone and fill with quick mix concrete. Be careful not to breathe in any concrete dust!
I titled this: "Success with mosaics." It is the picture of a stepping stone made with Styrofoam letters and broken pieces of tiles used as the mosaic. The letters are made on a hotwire machine, glued into a form, and the mosaic pieces are glued in place as well.
Yes you can, but what you want to use is regular Elmer's Concrete Bonder or Elmer's Probond. It's used to bond new concrete to old. When mixed into the concrete it acts as fortifier making your stepping stones stronger and more weather resistant.
Stir up your own cement and add seashells, broken pottery, and glass to create a colourful stepping-stone for the gardener on your Christmas list.
Materials and Equipment:
a large plastic bag or several sheets of newspaper
one small bag of cement, the finer grained the better (available at craft centers or building supply stores)
pieces of broken pottery or china, seashells, glass beads, etc.
one or more aluminum pie plates OR flat bottomed plant saucers
a large bucket or wheelbarrow
a large jug filled with water
a wooden stick or spade to stir cement
pieces of paper, one for each stepping-stone (must be at least as wide as the bottom of your pie plate or saucer)
Create this project outdoors or cover your work surface with a large plastic bag or newspapers to keep it clean.
Before mixing the concrete, spread your shells, glass, and pieces of broken pottery out in front of you. On a piece of paper, trace out the circumference of your pie plate or saucer. Create a "practice" design for your stepping-stone within the circle you have drawn. Do one for each stone you plan to make.
Mix concrete in a bucket or wheelbarrow according to the instructions on the package. Determine the amount you need for the number of stepping-stones you will be making. If you are making several stepping-stones, do not make more than two or three at a time. The mixture should be thick, but not runny. Add water and stir with wooden stick or spade until it is the desired consistency. Do not breathe in the concrete dust. Be sure to follow the safety precautions on the package.
Pour concrete into pie plates or plant saucers, whichever you are using.
Place your plate or saucer on a flat, even surface. Transfer your design from the paper to the pie plate or saucer. This method allows you to recreate your original design accurately. Be sure to press the pieces of pottery, shells, and glass into the concrete so that the edges are flush with the surface of the concrete. Because these stones may be stepped on with bare feet, no rough edges should be visible.
Set the finished stepping-stone aside to dry. If drying outside, make sure it is in a covered area. The stones should take from one to two days to dry, depending on the weather. Once dry, they are easily removed from the pie plate or saucer, which can be reused to make more stepping-stones. Do not reuse the pie plate to hold food!
Give your completed stepping-stone to your favorite gardener!
Does anyone have any idea as to what I can use to seal a plaster stepping stone? I had my grandson make a stepping stone from a kit. It turned out to be plaster which will disintegrate outside. I had him paint it today (with acrylic paints), but now I can't find anything to seal the whole thing with. I was told to use Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish, but that is strictly for wood finishes. Please help!