Craft inspiration! My husband, who has been busy cleaning the garage out, let me know he had some concrete leftover from last year's patio and pergola project. I considered doing garden stepping stones but wondered where I would put them. All my secret garden paths were done in the same stone as the patio. And there's only so many you can artfully arrange amongst plants.
So my first thought was that I would make smaller stones. We'd be making our own molds from whatever we could find around the house. I tend to save things like plastic food containers for my daughter to use for mixing paints. So I raided my container bin for a lot of different sized circles: think cottage cheese, large yogurt, potato salad, ground coffee, raisins. We found plastic worked great. Cardboard only worked out if it was waxy or lined with foil. The oatmeal container was not a winner as the cardboard soaked up all the moisture. For taller containers, we sawed off just the bottom part.
We were in the midst of preparing the molds and gathering the decorations when I had another idea. Could these be hung on the fence in our garden? My brilliant scientist husband, who perhaps is also a bit crafty, created these wire and nail holders that he put through the middle of each mold. Then the hanging wire would be firmly embedded inside the cement! Woo hoo!
For decorations we sorted buttons, beads, broken jewelry, seashells, coral, marbles, tiles, and rocks into containers by color. I had also saved any of our dishes that had gotten broken. We use Fiestaware so the colors are great. My husband and daughter used a hammer and a thick plastic bag to break them into smaller mosaic-worthy pieces.
The best directions I found online, including specifics on mixing concrete, were these. Most sites recommended letting the cement sit for 30 minutes before decorating. I think that's a bit long. Some of the last ones we were working on needed to be dampened with a mist of water to keep them useful. Also, we took the precaution of covering all of them with a towel for the first day or so to prevent the surface cement from drying out faster than the middle and bottom. We were expecting them to be hard enough to cut off the molds after a few days but the first one crumbled as it was not dry yet. We ended up waiting 5 days before taking them out.
The fun part, of course, was the decorating. My 3-year-old really got into it. I think making these could be a great family activity to do with kids (and grown ups!) of all ages.