Handicrafts with concrete – decoration made of concrete – creative ideas

Handicrafts with concrete – decoration made of concrete – creative ideas

No question about it, concrete has been trendy as a craft material for some time. In our DIY guide, we explain how creative work with the building material works. In addition, we present you with five great ideas that you can use as inspiration or just rework!

Before we present a number of creative ideas for handicrafts with concrete, we would like to provide you with some general information on working with the special material – in the sense of an FAQ guide.

What is concrete

Concrete is an important building material which – as you will find out in detail in this article – does not only provide valuable services for roads, tunnels, bridges and houses. In addition, it can also be used for making beautiful decorative elements. Concrete is composed of a certain binding agent and an aggregate. Potential binders include:

  • bitumen
  • lime
  • volume
  • cement

The most important aggregates for the preparation of concrete are gravel and sand. The hard rock that everyone knows from personal experience is only created when the two elements are finally combined with water. After all, walking out the front door is usually enough to come into direct contact with the building material.

Note: Often the question arises what the difference between concrete and screed is. In a nutshell: Screed is generally more fine-grained and dries faster than concrete. The main purpose of screed is to compensate for differences in height. With regard to handicrafts, the fact that screed, unlike concrete, is already mixed is the most important distinguishing feature.

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Making concrete

If you want to use classic concrete for handicrafts, you need a binding agent, an aggregate and water. Cement is best suited as a binding agent and sand as an aggregate. Alternatively, you can use screed instead of cement and sand.

Tip: Due to the trend that tinkering with concrete has triggered, so-called craft or creative concrete is now also available for purchase.

Differences between concrete and craft concrete

What are the differences between “normal” concrete and craft concrete?

Both craft and conventional concrete have advantages and disadvantages.

Pros and cons of creative concrete:

+ ready-mixed (only water has to be added)
+ easy to process
+ low-dust
+ weather-resistant
– more expensive than normal concrete

Pros and cons of normal concrete:

+ considerably cheaper than creative concrete
– more difficult to process (finding the right mix is ​​a bit tricky)
– dusty

costs

You pay just under three euros for a 25-kilogram cement pack. In addition, there is around seven euros for 25 kilograms of quartz sand. Craft concrete is not available in such large quantities. The maximum is usually five kilograms. For this you put around 20 euros.

You don’t have to do a lot of math to realize that you have to spend far less to produce concrete yourself and that you can do a lot more. Think about whether you want to start just one single concrete handicraft project for the time being or whether you aim to conjure up many (larger) decorative elements from the material.

Where can I buy concrete?

The individual ingredients (cement and sand) can be found in every hardware store – whether online or on-site. For creative concrete, it is best to look around in well-stocked craft shops. The probability of finding what you are looking for on the Internet is usually higher.

Mix concrete

When preparing classic concrete, cement and quartz sand are largely mixed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. But be careful: the suggested “recipe” is not always 100 percent correct. From experience, we advise you to always use a little less quartz sand than indicated. If there is too much of it, the corners of the finished decorative items tend to crumble. In addition, the pieces are then not very robust.

Example: If the recommended ratio is 1: 2 (cement: quartz sand), it is better to use only 1 ¾ or even 1 ½ units of the sand. It’s best to just experiment a little here. After the third or fourth attempt at the latest, you will certainly be smarter when it comes to the optimal mixing ratio!

Mixing itself is basically a breeze: take an old bucket and add the right amount of the two ingredients. Mix the whole thing well with a spade, a trowel, or, if necessary, a sturdy spoon. Then gradually pour in water. As you do this, keep stirring vigorously until the consistency is perfect. The perfect consistency can best be compared to that of creamy yogurt.

Tip: If the mixture is too dry, add more water. If it is too liquid, you will need more cement and sand.

The procedure is very similar to creative concrete. The only difference is that you do not need to carry out the first step – mixing cement and sand. The handicraft concrete is already finished. It only needs to be enriched with water. The rest works the same way as with the classic variant.

Tip: If you are working with creative concrete, you can also use a sufficiently large plastic bowl instead of the bucket.

Important questions

What do I have to consider when tinkering with concrete?

If you choose the traditional method of mixing concrete, you should take several measures:

a) There will be a lot of dust during the process of mixing and stirring. We, therefore, advise you to cover everything with foil or newspaper in advance (furniture, heating, floor, etc.) in order to prevent a bigger mess. It is even better to move to the balcony, terrace, or garden and do the first (and at the same time largest) handicraft step there.

b) Concrete is slightly corrosive and can damage the skin. For this reason, you should definitely wear gloves and a face mask during the concrete tinkering mission.

Note: These measures are not absolutely necessary for handicraft concrete. However, even in this case, we advise you to wear at least gloves. Better safe than sorry.

How much time should you plan for tinkering with concrete?

The drying process takes the longest – 48 to 36 hours to be precise (two to three days). Everything else does not take much time. Mixing is usually done in a few minutes (around ten to 20). Then the concrete has to be brought into shape, which usually does not take more than 15 to 20 minutes. After drying, the question is whether you want to decorate your work of art further (e.g. paint it) or leave it as it is. If necessary, another five to 60 minutes can be added, depending on how extensive the rework is. This results in active minimum duration of around 25 minutes. As a rule, you do not need more than 100 minutes. And the rest (drying) happens passively, so we don’t include this time here.

Tinker with concrete: craft ideas

What can you make out of concrete?

Actually, there are hardly any limits when it comes to tinkering with concrete. It is important to consider the basic information in this guide. In addition, you can let your creativity run free and feel free to try different things. In order to provide you with one or the other inspiration, we would like to introduce you to five more interesting projects in the form of practical DIY instructions below.

Tinker boot pot

What you need:

  • concrete
  • old children’s rubber boots
  • Sunflower oil
  • Paper towels
  • plastic cup
  • Stones
  • Craft knife
  • Cling film
  • Emery paper
  • Clear coat
  • brush
  • trowel
  • small plants

manual

  • Step 1: Mix the concrete as described.
  • Step 2: Grease the inside of the rubber boots with oil. Use simple kitchen paper for this.
  • Step 3: Fill the boots to ¾ with concrete (with a trowel or something similar).
  • Step 4: smooth the concrete on top with a plastic cup. Then press the cup a little bit into the concrete (with the lower side).
  • Step 5: Put a stone in the cup to weigh it down.

Tip: To keep the cup in the middle, you can attach it to the outside of the boot with adhesive tape.

  • Step 6: Cover the boot with cling film and let the concrete dry for 24 to 36 hours.
  • Step 7: Cut open the boots with a cutter and pull them down from the concrete boots. Be careful!
  • Step 8: Take out the plastic cup.
  • Step 9: Smooth with sandpaper.
  • Step 10: Seal the inner area of ​​the boot pot with clear varnish (with the help of a brush), because concrete is not waterproof. Then let it dry.

Step 11: insert small plants. Finished!

Tinker concrete elements with cookie cutters

What you need:

  • concrete
  • Cookie cutter
  • Sunflower oil
  • flat plastic tray
  • spoon
  • Straws or wooden sticks
  • Emery paper

manual

  • Step 1: Mix the concrete as described.

Tip: It is advisable to use decorative concrete here. This is specially prepared and therefore skin-friendly.

  • Step 2: Place the flat plastic tray on the table. Grease the inside of the round cookie cutter with oil (with a brush) and place it in the flat plastic bowl.
  • Step 3: Use a spoon to fill the concrete into the cookie cutter. Make sure that the surface is high and level (preferably without bubbles).
  • Step 4:  Either you now stick wooden sticks or stalks greased with oil into the concrete (about half a centimeter from the upper edge). This hole will later be used to thread the chain through. Or you can leave the shape as it is and create a decorative stone in this way.

Tip: Leave the straw in place during the drying phase to avoid deformation.

You can also make a tealight holder in this way – all you have to do is press a tealight into the concrete.

  • Step 5: Let dry for 24 to 36 hours.
  • Step 6: Press the concrete element out of the cutter, remove the straw. Act cautiously!
  • Step 7: Smooth with sandpaper.

Paint with chalk paint as you like. Use a ruler to make straight lines. Of course, many other decorations are also possible.

Tip for two other ideas: You can use the same principle and more or less the same utensils (exchange the round cookie cutter accordingly) to make a pretty decorative bunny for Easter or a star made of concrete for Christmas.

Concrete origami mug

What you need:

  • Craft template
  • carton
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • Folder bone
  • duct tape
  • Creative concrete or self-mixed concrete (bucket for mixing, trowel)
  • small plastic cup
  • extra container in which the mold fits
  • funnel
  • sand
  • stone
  • Cling film

Manual:

  • Step 1:  First, print out our handicraft template. You can download it here as a PDF:

Template – origami mug

Then cut them out neatly and transfer the outlines to thicker cardboard. The base is placed in the middle, while the side element is placed around it 6 times. Outline everything with a pencil.

Then trace all the fold lines with a pencil and ruler. Now cut out the complete origami shape.

Note: We glued two cardboard boxes in A3 format together – you can easily place the shape on them.

  • Step 2:  Then fold all the fold lines neatly. This works best with a bone folder.
  • Step 3:  Now glue the origami shape together. To do this, coat the adhesive flaps with craft glue.

Important: When gluing together, make sure that the adhesive tabs are on the outside. If these were inside, the concrete form would later have tabs, since it is a negative impression. It doesn’t matter what the paper cup looks like from the outside – the main focus is on the inside of the cup. This must be even and all folding edges must lie well on top of one another and be recognizable.

  • Step 4:  Now wrap the shape several times with tape or painter’s tape so that it becomes more stable and no holes can be seen. The shape must be perfectly tight and complete.
  • Step 5: Now fill the extra container a few centimeters with sand. Then enter the paper form. This should now be easily accessible at the top with the edge of the container. If this is not the case, you will have to add some sand. Then use a funnel to add more and more sand until everything is filled to the top.
  • Step 6:  Then stir the handicraft concrete as described in the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Step 7:  Now tip the concrete into the origami shape. Once the cup is filled a few inches, insert the plastic cup into the mold. This should be a few millimeters to centimeters in diameter smaller than the shape, otherwise, the wall of the cup will be too thin. Press the cup into the concrete so that it is displaced and ultimately fills the origami shape completely. If this is not the case, take the plastic cup out again and pour the concrete over.

Now weigh down the plastic cup with stones. This should float in the middle by itself. If it still comes up a bit, you can still fix it at the edge with adhesive tape.

Tip: If you wait for a little and let the concrete dry, you can also press the cup into the concrete later. However, there is a risk that the concrete will be deformed.

  • Step 8:  Now cover the form with cling film and wait until the concrete is completely dry.

Then you can simply cut the paper shape apart, remove the plastic cup and the origami cup is ready! You can now smooth the surface a little with emery paper.

The cup works best, leave it in this concrete gray. But if you want, you can also paint the mug.

Tinker concrete vase

What you need:

  • Concrete (mixing bucket, trowel)
  • plastic cup
  • Glass vessels (for example test tubes)
  • hot glue
  • oil
  • Cling film
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Emery paper
  • Step 1: To begin with, prepare the shape of the concrete vase. A plastic cup that you can easily cut open later is best for this. Oil the inside of the mold completely with oil.
  • Step 2: Then the three test tubes are fixed in the beaker with a little hot glue, as they are very light and float on the liquid concrete. In this way, the jars keep their place after the concrete has been poured in and you don’t have to hold them for a long time.
  • Step 3: Now mix the concrete according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you use finished creative concrete, all you have to do is add water to the finished mixture.
  • Step 4:  Now the plastic cup is filled to the brim with the liquid concrete. Then cover the container with cling film and allow the concrete to dry out for about 36 – 48 hours.
  • Step 5:  When the concrete is completely dry, you can remove the plastic cup. To do this, cut a piece of the edge of the cup with scissors or a craft knife. After that, the cup can be torn off with your hands.
  • Step 6: Now there is a little more detailed work to be done. Smooth the concrete a little with sandpaper and remove any concrete residue on the glass – these can easily be scratched off with a fingernail.

The urban chic concrete vase for three flowers is ready! The glass container only needs to be filled with a little water and a flower will find its new home in it.

Clutter tray

What you need:

  • Concrete (mixing bucket, trowel)
  • Wax tablecloth
  • large plastic bowl
  • Gloves
  • Cling film
  • brush
  • Emery paper
  • Step 1:  First, mix the cement and quartz sand, unless you are using ready-made creative concrete. Now add enough water to the dry concrete mix that the concrete has a creamy consistency like a paste.
  • Step 2: Now spread the wax tablecloth on the table with the wax side up, it can be folded several times. Now put the concrete on the tablecloth with gloves. The concrete flatbread must be about 3 cm high and a few centimeters larger in radius than the plastic bowl. The next step explains why.
  • Step 3: Then lift the tablecloth and put it with the concrete in the plastic bowl. The concrete must slide down into the bowl. Now the edge comes up a bit, so the radius of the concrete blob has to be larger. Now make a few folds with your hands. The concrete will keep this shape after drying, so feel free to try something out. Then brush the inner surface with a little water to make it smoother.

Note: Be careful not to make the edges too thin. If necessary, put some more concrete on top and spread it with your hands.

  • Step 4: Cover the bowl completely with cling film and let the whole thing dry for 2 days. After the time is up, you can remove the foil and detach the concrete shell from the mold and from the tablecloth. With the wax coating, this shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Step 5:  The pointed edges are now smoothed a little with sandpaper. Some pieces may flake off because they are too thin. But that’s not bad – the bowl is still great and unique.

Now leave the concrete card tray in the concrete gray or you can paint it. That is entirely up to you. But the simple gray really looks great!

Important tips

  • Instead of sunflower oil, you can also use any other cooking oil. It’s just about greasing the molds to make it easier to get the concrete decorative element out after it dries.
  • Always cover the mold with the concrete with foil so that the liquid remains in the concrete – this dries evenly.
  • During the drying process, the respective aids in which the concrete hardens (e.g. the bowl or the cookie cutter) must be weighed down. This works best with stones.
  • To achieve beautiful results, you should sand your concrete figures after they have dried. First work with coarse sandpaper to achieve a smooth surface. Then cover with fine sandpaper.
  • You can carefully break away any protruding concrete residue on the decoration figure with a pair of pliers.