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Monday, May 6, 2013

DIY Garden stepping stone

Today I have what I think is another great Mother's day gift idea, especially for those of you who have little ones. I am desperate to preserve the tiny little feet and hands-- already he is getting so big and those little pink baby toes are walking big-boy dirty toes and I can hardly bear it!
I made these for the grandmas last year (so excuse the date...) but I think they really loved them, and they are a sweet sentimental gift for the gardener or outdoorsy ladies in your life. (Because outdoorsy to me means sipping lemonade on patios, or my parent's golf course quality green lawn in the backyard.)
(See? Golf course beautiful)

Anyway, this was pretty simple to create, but here's a step by step because I love you:
You are going to need:
some concrete (I bought a bucket of QuickCrete at Homedepot for $7),
Plastic plant water drip trays (98 cents at home depot) (or you could probably use old pie tins)
Concrete Letter Stamps (I got these from amazon, but you could also look at craft stores or home depot, especially this time of year, for around $10 or less)
Mosaic tiles (or this sheet of bathroom mosaic, purchased at home depot for about $5)
Spoon or stir stick, bucket to mix stuff in, plastic sheeting and towels to protect your surface and clean up.

This is one of those projects where you will want to have everything ready to go before you start... because once that concrete gets wet, it goes fast!
Start by mixing your concrete per the instructions on the package. It may mix it a little thick, I actually added a little more water so it way smooth and spreadable... like creamy peanut butter. (Adding more water will increase your drying time, just FYI)
Next, scoop your concrete into your mold. I used 2 sizes of trays, an 8" and a 10". The 8" was perfect for a baby size foot... but any bigger you will want a bigger size (they sell 10" and 12" trays as well if you are doing an older child). Smooth the concrete out as best you can, and tap it a few times so it is nice and flat accross the top.
(See how there is kinda some water pooling around the edges there? Thats what happens if you add tooooooo much water. But never fear, it's fixable. After you have scooped, smoothed and tapped, take a paper towel and gently lay it accross the top of the concrete. It should suck the excess right up. Don't press or pat or wipe... just let it do it's thing and carefully peel it off the top)
Next press in your tiles. Work quickly-- give em' a good shove down into the concrete though so it will really grab on, if you just gently place them, they won't stick well. If the concrete is smeary on the tiles, it's okay, it will wipe off with water later. These little square tiles were easiest for me to work with... but if you have actual mosiac tile, or broken pottery, or those little flat marble things, or left over tile pieces from another project... all those would be great. Get creative, rock what ya got.
Now it's footprint time... grab your willing and cooperative 1 year old (riiiiiiiiiight) and squish those tootsies straight down in the middle of the wet concrete mold. (full disclosure: the print pictured above was attempt #32-- or something close to that number. If the first one--or first 31-- doesn't look like you want it, scrape, spread, smooth over the area and try again. Easy peasy.) If the concrete is getting too solid, try dribbling a little water over the top and carefully scraping, spreading and smoothing unitl it's a workable consitancy. Even still, try to work fast, it's only forgiving for the first 10 minutes or so.
Have yourstamps  ready. I chose to put my son's name and the year. But you could certainly put an I love you, or an inspirational quote, or whatever you like.
I started at the middle of my word to make sure it was centered, and pretty straight forward here with the stamps-- press them in, pull straight up and out. If there are lines from the edges of the stamps, smooth them out with your finger.
And there you have it! Now you just need to set it somewhere it can sit undisturbed for 48 hours. It will feel/look dry after about an hour, but you need to leave it alone for 48 so it completely dries and cures.
Still drying here, this is after like, 12 hours. The finish of the concrete looks a little wonky at this point, but it evened out. After everything is all dry, they should pop easily out of the plastic molds, and it's really for your garden:
Or your Golf course lawn:
These turned out to be great gifts for the grandmas, they loved them! I made one for myself as well... and someday if I have a backyard, or a garden, or a small spattering of grassiness to call my own (fingers crossed!!!) it's so going down there! Cute little baby Sam foot. It just makes me smile.
This project is a simdge more expensive than the last I showed you, because you will likely have to purchase most of the supplies. It's not hard to come by-- just not stuff you might have on hand. You could be in it $25 for supplies, but that was enough to make 4 stepping stones, which brings the price per stone to $6.25 which ain't to shabby for a personal and handmade gift that grandmas and mama alike will love... and it's better than a macaroni necklace. Right?
I hope some of you whip some of these stones up for Mother's Day this year, you still have time! And of course if you do... let me know about it, and/or share photos in the flickr pool. Thanks!


  1. Valerie, you never cease to amaze me with your many talents and ideas! I love that you are so willing to share with others the "How to's" part. You are such a blessing to others!