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My garden is my paradise, so I love to add some sculpture to it. This project is a personal endeavour that has been brewing in my mind for a while. Contrary to what you make think, sculpting is not as difficult as you may think if you give yourself a chance. I’ll provide you with a few key points to keep in mind and then you too can also add ‘sculptor’ to your resumé and make your own Concrete Face Garden Sculpture.

I fell in love with the huge faces by Igor Mitoraj! They are not complete, somewhat flat and can be placed just about anywhere. It’s a great idea as it does not need to be so perfect or so complete.

Step #1: Make a plan

As I usually do, I make some sketches to keep track of those many visions in my mind’s eye. This was not going to be a vessel or planter so it was really quite easy… Since it is a mask shape (halloween has many masks right now) you could possibly find one to make this project even simpler

Some memories of college crept back into my mind, drawing the planes of the face and basic proportions. You can always make an interpretation; be your own Picasso!

  • Notice that the face is 5 ‘eyes’ wide.
  • the nose ends about 1/2 way from eyes to the chin.
  • the lips are about 1/3  from nose to chin.
  • Take note of side view as well for comparison of depth

Step #2; Create a Substructure

To give myself a starting structure that is light and sturdy, easy to manipulate (no heavy duty tools) I used styrofoam. I used that type meant for home insulation and comes in large sheets as I find it cuts cleaner than the white type used in packaging.

Plan the basic proportions on the styrofoam sheet. It cuts easily with a large exacto knife and glues quite well with a lower temperature glue gun. It was quite fun cutting and gluing, adding layers to also create the height of the facial features.

I wanted this DIY Concrete Face Garden Sculpture to be larger than life-size for maximum effect. Mine is about twice life-size; about 14″ wide by 18″ tall.

Cut and glue and cut and glue, slowly getting more details. The face is symmetrical, and can be broken into planes. Think of the flat planes first and then add the smaller details.

Check the depth of the nose and lips, use pictures as reference. Look in the mirror. It is quite an exploratory exercise.

Take a break and look at again with ‘fresh’ eyes to see what you may have not noticed before.

Step #3; Add the ‘Skin’

Once I had the rough ‘face’, I needed to decide how this was going to go further… My plan was to be able to make a mold of the final sculpture, so I needed something that would harden without baking (styrofoam melts). Well, air dry clay recipes did not make me feel confident that they would be quite workable. So, I fell back to my usual, RapidSet concrete.

A true sculptor would argue with me, as it is a medium that does not allow subtractive work. But it sets quick, can be manipulated and is darn hard when done. So it was fine for me…

Mix up small amounts of the RapidSet Cementall (or similar quick setting cement) so that it does not set before you can use it up. It should be of a stiffer consistency that allows it to stay put. After about half a minute it will be a soft pliable ‘icing-like’ consistency.

If you need to continue and it has dried somewhat make sure to wet it (spray bottle works well) before adding wet concrete to it.

This was like putting the ‘skin’ on since the basics were already done. Smooth it on, use the gloved hands, trowel, palette knife, plastic utensils, popsicle sticks, whatever you can scrounge up.

It is just a matter of filling in the features. I was not that concerned that it was super smooth as I like the look of aged and pitted concrete as then it looks more like an ancient deteriorating sculpture of an old master artist… If you need some reference, grab a simple cheap Halloween mask to look at, all artists use reference materials.

Those are some big lips! It was also easier to sculpt since it was so large.

Eye lids, simple open eyes, remember eye balls are round…

There are so many different noses out there! Pointy, squared, up-turned… whatever you like.

Use an old brush to get rid of any crumbles or brush on a thin layer to even out roughness.

Whew, the face is sculpted! It will still be light and the concrete holds quite tight to the styrofoam. You could keep it like this, however I did not want the bulk of the back so I will take it to the next level.

This will become the ‘master’ for the mold! Stay tuned as it will be posted quite soon…

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

This Post Has 79 Comments

        1. Sorry I don’t since it would really allow too much reproduction of my art. You could look into face masks or sculpt your own as I did. Happy making

        2. I’ve noticed that the dollar store has started selling the full styrofoam heads and that might be something you could use

          1. Yes, possibly. There are any possibilities. Mine is about 2X life size. You can make a unique sculpture using the styrofoam head & then making a mold of it. Good luck.

          1. I’m a mom of two a Nana to 3 sweet boys. I have seen your face sculpture on Pinterest a few times. I’m happy I was scanning through paper mache. And your personal instructions with this photo. And information about you the artist. To be blessed with a talent is wonderful. I would like to try to make one when I have some free time..
            Thank you so much for sharing this💗

          2. I believe everyone has some talent, just sometimes a bit harder to accept and find it! Being a ‘Nana’ is already a talent! Happy making!

      1. C’est magnifique un jour prochain je m’y essaierai, vous pouvez être fière de vous, chapeau l’artiste

  1. This is just fabulous! Thank you so very much for sharing your ideas and techniques. As soon as possible I will be having one of these in my little bit of heaven. I think this will be the catalyst I needed to get back at it.

      1. Hi Barb, I love this sculpture. I have a beautiful huge face pot where I put a plant in it. I would like to make another one to have a pair.

        Do you think I can make it thick enough to make a pot out of the one I have. It is a nice project for me at this time of confinement.

        thanks for what you share with us.

  2. FANTASTIC!!! Barb, your concrete face sculpture is amazing! And even your styrofoam face “skeleton” is a work of art :-). Looking forward to seeing more soon. Wonderful garden creation!

  3. Amazing!! Now you have really got me thinking…………thinking about cats sculptures. Knowing the styrofoam secret is the most important thing. Thank you so much.

  4. Er — this is just the mold? I want to try something like this. (I have neither talent not creativity, but want to make an Ankor Wat-type face to mount on my backyard stone fireplace tower.)

    1. I had to look that up. If you can find a decorative one, you could use it to make a mold. If not, you could make a master out of polymer clay; it is easy to work with and you can bake it in your oven (it does not dry and you could take your time). It could remain pretty flat with details. I made the bunnies that way. It is almost halloween, maybe there is a plastic mask somewhere that you could pour concrete into. There are some crazy masks nowadays…

      1. Sorry to keep pestering — I just want to make one sculpture (bas-relief face, maybe 3 feet tall), so don’t need a mold if that is for multiple ones. The (lovely) “master for the mold” you show — is the idea that it is a bit thin, and hence flimsy, and hence should only be used as a mold? Or could I make something like that, following your instructions, and then mou that?

        1. I tend to like the idea of being able to make more, and with this idea I wanted to be able to change the outside shape of the face each time. However, if you want just one, you could follow as I did. You could just sculpt one. In that case though, perhaps you’d like to be able to pull out/off the back structure so you are just left with concrete. If your rough less detailed, just really a sturdy base form, maybe you could cover it in plastic to allow pulling off. If there are no undercuts then it should come off. You would just have to be aware of the thickness to make sure it is adequate. Rapidset Cementall sets so quickly that you can get it done fast, a good thing sometimes and sometimes not so… I think the base is just a great way to have all the proportions and basics already figured out. Let me know how it goes! Good luck

    1. Thanks Barb, I enjoyed your tutorial on concrete mask. I’m working on my now. I sent you some money to keep you sharing😁

  5. Phew! I am about to try this in the upcoming days. Am I the first?

    Anyways, great blog and thank you so much for this project upload! If only I get half the success you had with this, I’d be happy.

    I am from the Netherlands. The past 2 days I’ve been translating and researching what products I’ll be able to buy. It’s less then 40 euros (50 US dollars) for the first try.

    One question: Do you use cement without additional peat structure for the ‘Master mold’ and add peat to create some rough structure for the faces? Is peat just dirt I can shovel up from my garden?

    Thank you! You are awesome!

    1. I am glad you have some determination! The master can be made of anything that you can sculpt that will become hard. I used the concrete since I was pretty used to it and it is the quick setting kind. I did not any peat at that time. You may also want to give it a bit of ‘grease’ before the silicone molding since it may stick (depending on a lot of factors)

      Peat is a plant material that we buy to add to soil, it’s actually peat moss, and comes dried. I am sure you have a similar product. When I am in doubt, I do small tests.

      Mine ‘faces’ have been out all winter mostly under the snow, since we had so much this year. Now that they are finally peeking out they look just as good as they did last year, even with the ‘moss’

      Let me know how it goes…

    1. Thanks! You need to be careful when gluing styrofoam as it will dissolve when using a solvent based glue. (Ya, I usually figure it out the hard way) I’d say using a hot glue gun is easiest and most immediate. Sometimes just let it cool a bit or use a lower temperature one. Good luck!

  6. Oh my gosh this is awesome. I’ve been looking for something like this for such a long time. I ended up taking a male and a female styrofoam head and digging out the top of them to make a little indentation on the top to plant flowers in. I’ll bet I could put this cement right over a styrofoam head couldn’t I? but then will I ever get the styrofoam center out? Would I even need to? I just notice every year (this is the 3rd year I’ve had them) that the styrofoam is starting to pick off and break down. I spraypainted both white heads with a concrete type spray paint and I plant moss roses in them. They really do look like concrete heads. I then have each of them sitting on a piece of rebar that is sticking out of the ground. My sister thinks they are creepy but I really like them but would prefer to have them in cement. I also put old broken down tree faces lying down face up in my garden beds when they start to get old. My grandaughters love to see the faces in the garden. So something like this would really be fun to do.

    1. Gee, it sounds like we are alike! I love the rustic look and the odd edges as if they just fell off some ancient building. Mine have weathered great. This concrete is quite amazing! I bet you would love these as well! They look great in a rock garden, kinda subtle… and silly!

    1. That’s kind of you to say! But I don’t think I’m that brilliant; I am just really stubborn and will keep at it til I get what I want! And I have the courage to try new things. One the hardest things about concrete is that some of those bags weigh 80 pounds!

  7. Hello Barb. I too ,love all that you do. Just finished a face sculpture. Doesn’t look much like yours:) I love it though. Just waiting for it to cure before I take the Styrofoam off. Can you please help me out with that? It looks really stuck on! How do I tackle this without breaking the cement? Sincerely, Mary

    1. When I made the main sculpture it was to create a master for making a mold. Then I am able to make many. I did not take out the styrofoam from the ‘master’ If the concrete is strong enough you could cut away at it from the back with a big exacto knife. The way I use mine in the garden does not show the back anyways… See here for part #2 ‘Hope that helps!

      1. I found your instructions following a photo link of your face sculpture on Pinterest. The instructions read well but I’m a visual learner and all the links to your photos are broken. I’m hoping you’re still following this post and will be able to fix them.Thanks in advance!

        1. Well, I just tested on a few devices and they are all working fine. I am not sure what device you are on but all the images are appearing. Maybe try another device… I do have a lot of images in a post so it may take a while to load as well. Good luck.

  8. Hi Barb,

    I just left a comment on the follow-up page from this project. I am afraid I was confusing in my last email. I am looking to buy* this mold. Do you sell them?


    1. I am sorry I do not as then my sculpture could be reproduced in unlimited ways… Maybe find a face sculpture that you like and take a mold yourself. I am not sure about the legalities of that though. Mine is really large too!

      Good luck & happy making

  9. I am thinking about making a mud head type structure to go in a shade garden, and I want it to be more durable than a dirt mound. I have been researching making the face out of concrete, and your information has really helped and inspired me!! My little giant will be about 2 1/2 feet across, and will end up being like a modified planter. I am just now starting the base for it, and I have gotten seeds for ornamental grass for his hair. Since he will be in a fairly shady spot, I really wanted him to stand out–his hair will be a bronzy-red to contrast with shade and green vegetation. I think my grandchildren and their multiple cousins will love visiting him!!

    1. Very cool idea! I think it’s a little like these. They are quite fun too! Do make sure you get some of the alkalinity out of the concrete for the sake of the plant by soaking in water after setting and change water often.

  10. I’m try to make a planter to attach to the wall like this any ideas? Do you think it would hang on the wall or be to heavy

    1. My masks are made quite thin since the mix is really strong. It would hang on a wall no problem as long as it is attached well on the wall and the mask (imbed well into the concrete) Have fun!

  11. Really cool……Does the concrete need some sort of sealing or do you think it would hold up in the hot heat and snow just fine?

    1. Sealers usually fail and need retreating. If you notice sidewalks don’t get sealed. Mine have been quite happy in our variety of weather. The only problem is if they are able to collect water, then there is the freezing/expanding issue. Good luck!

      1. “The only problem is if they are able to collect water”
        Oh thank you thank you for mentioning that. I was wondering why my birdbath bowls weren’t making it through winter while the pedestals do so just fine.

  12. In regard to the people like me who couldn’t see the pictures on Pinterest, down at the bottom of Barbs comments, there are three dots and when you click on them, one option is to open in browser, which I did and could then see the pictures. Hope that helps.

  13. Hi, I would really like to have a go at the concrete art that I have seen on here so I tried the simple start of fabric over jars, but they dried and crumbled and just collapsed. I followed the cement instructions of 4 parts sand to one part cement and added water to get a smooth mixture, dipped the fabric in and squeezed it over and over. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong ?

    1. Oh dear! I wonder if your concrete was too old? Also I tend to not add the sand as the fabric acts as the aggregate in this case. See this post for help. I have not had any of those issues just using the portland cement and fabric. See these Good luck

  14. Just discovered you! I am making a concrete pedestal plants and I’m wondering if o can add decorative elements after it comes out of the mold. Like a decorative edge with embedded glass chips. If I use mortar for the decoration, will it stick to the concrete? Can’t find a straight answer. Would I need a bonding agent? Thank you!!

    1. The Rapidset Cementall does allow adding afterward if you dampen the cured concrete. It also does act as a grout. Try it on a small area. It cures quickly so you can see how it attaches.

  15. Barb!
    I was a ceramics sculptor back in my college days, and it was my greatest passion. But, when I left college and no longer had a kiln to use, I reluctantly moved from sculpture Into painting. Recently I started researching sculpting with cement, and I found your website. You are a GENIUS, and you’ve inspired me to go back into sculpting! I love how brave you are, experimenting and figuring out which mixes and materials work best for which projects. I am so excited to say that I’ve created my first Easter Island style head planter out of concrete, and I’m ecstatic about making bigger and better sculptures! Thank you so much for being such an inspiration, and for sharing your creativity and enthusiasm with all of us!

    1. Wow! I am so glad! I wanted a potters wheel when I was in grade school, but my parents said no. Then I wanted a kiln, again no. Soooo, eventually after amassing so many other supplies concrete does fill that sculpting void for me. I also teach in an art college so I have amazing inspiration around me all the time!!! Thanks for commenting!

  16. I’ve always wanted to sculpt. Just recently was suggested to try hypotofu. I made 3 Rhubarb leafs. I wanted to do a fountain ⛲ & imbedded metal hardware. I was just guna see & screwed just a lil too far. The hardware fell thru, I was holding both pieces, hollered for husband to come help. He brought a pipe wrench since I’d hand turned it too tight. Got it loose & said ok pull it up, when I did, the corner of the plywood fell right on the leaf vein & cracked my biggest leaf. I cried. At least I learned that I’m going to LOVE 💘 hypotofu scuplting! I’m going to try this now. Thanks 😊

    1. Oh too bad! I have a lot of fails/accidents that I remember well. Usually that won’t happen again, as we learn from it… Happy making. I love fast set concrete, more my speed!

  17. Does this break easily if knocked over? I am thinking of doing a 4 foot tall statue, but don’t want it to be too delicate.

    1. Wow, 4 feet tall?! that’s quite an undertaking! I would think it would break. Even a pot would break. It also depends how thick it is and if it reinforced. Concrete gets crazy heavy, so keep that in mind! Good luck!

  18. Dobrý den, jste hrozně moc šikovná a nápaditá, popis a postup Vašeho tvoření je perfektně popsány, jen bych se prosím chtěla zeptat, čím přesně se lepí ty růžové styrodur. desky nebo jaké to jsou a zdá na vyplnění mohu použít normální beton s vodou popřípadě zda přidat písek nebo koupit nějaký ten váš uváděny beton Rapidset, věcem je jeho výhoda. Moc děkuji za odpověď. Zdeňka Vojteková.

    1. “Hello, you are very clever and imaginative, the description and process of your creation is perfectly described, I would just like to ask what exactly the pink styrodur are glued to. slabs or what they are and it seems to fill I can use normal concrete with water or whether to add sand or buy some of your featured concrete Rapidset, things are its advantage. Thank you very much for your answer. Zdenka Vojtekova.”

      The Pink styrofoam are glued together with some low temperature hot glue, and they are cut from sheets. It is just a way of giving a base structure to then sculpt on. I do not mix my own concrete, I’d rather buy a mix. The Rapidset Cementall sets so fast that I can work quite quickly. Good luck!

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