Alright let me tell you; I have quite the history with moss! I have been dealing with this little green stuff (not the better green stuff) at my shady place for many many years. So, when I wanted some moss on my concrete I thought it was a no-brainer… Well, check out my interesting moss adventure so you too can figure out how to make moss.
Green stuff growing between my interlock pavers has been a bit of an issue. I don’t like weeds or other little plants there, but ‘nice’ moss is another story. But whether moss or other things grows depends a lot on many variables. It also depends on the material that it is growing on. For some strange reason this year all the factors came together and I had some really nice little fuzzy green moss take hold. So, I decided I would make some moss of my own grow on my rustic Concrete Masks.
Supplies to Grow your own Moss
- gathered green moss
- ‘Gel’ Water Beads (or the gel from inside diapers)
Step #1 Make the mix
I collected a good amount of green moss from the forest. As a precaution I collected a few varieties. Moss is quite resilient as it can come alive even after drying out.
Soak the ‘water beads’ until they become engorged with water and clear. This material will give the moss a constant supply of moisture.
Add a handfull of moss to the blender, about 3/4 cup of buttermilk and 3/4 cup or so of the water beads.
Blend until it is a somewhat smooth slurry. Add more milk if it won’t blend. The colour is somewhat brownish due to the soil from the moss. But moss is not picky, as I see it grows in the most odd places.
Step #2 Apply to Concrete
I cleaned the Concrete Face quite well and then painted on the ‘moss mix’ I chose areas that would seem natural to grow like the bottom and sides and in crevices.
Step #3 Wait… and wait… and wait
Then I placed it in a shady spot, even gave it some protection form constantly drying out. That’s the thing about moss; it only grows when it feels like it; when all the elements are exactly right. I misted it and kept it damp. I waited, and waited and waited. It was summer, moss was growing in other parts of my place, but not on it. I even put some of the mix in between the flagstone and saw no action there either! It is not an easy thing to keep it damp either as it can dry out in no time during a hot summer.
If you research ‘moss growing’ you will be shown how it ‘can’ grow on a wall in the shape of letters… Really!? I highly doubt it. I have moss growing all over the place due to the shade and amount of rain we had, but no, not any on my concrete. I would have to get a degree in chemistry and botany to figure out why not… Maybe the concrete has some residual material/PH that the moss does not like. We see moss grow on statues, but after many years. Much to my dismay it grow where it wants, not where I want.
So, I took matters in my own hands (yup, a control freak) and MADE moss. That will ensure me the moss that I want and where I want it!
Supplies to Make your own Moss
- Woodland Scenics Green Blend T49 Turf Flocking
- Galeria (or other brand) Matt Gel Medium
- Paint brushes (wide and old)
- Acrylic paint (black, yellow, red & White)
As you may know now, I have a lot of ‘making’ in my history; some of which was teaching architectural model building. It was quite fascinating and tedious to make not just those cute miniature buildings with all the details but also the amazing little trees and landscaping that looked so realistic. And being a true artist I keep ALL media, as you never know when you need it… Voila turf flocking fibre. It is amazing stuff, keeps it great realistic colour and can be used for many things. (can be found at Hobby and Model Train Shops)
Step #1 Make it look Old
Prior to adding the ‘moss’ you may choose to give your concrete some ‘age’. If you look at some old statues you will see how they develop dark areas, and not always just black, but also greenish or brownish. As in my tutorial for aging I use watery washes of acrylic paint (black, white and other colour mixes) so that it sinks into the porous concrete. I don’t want it just sitting on the surface as then it will probably peel off over time, as many of the ‘topical’ finishes do.
Step #2 Add the ‘Adhesive’
To adhere the moss flocking is similar to working with glitter. Instead of a glue that may soften when wet I use acrylic Matte Medium as that is waterproof when dry. Dab on areas where moss would likely grow thick enough to allow the flocking to imbed into. Moss usually grows where the sun does not hit, undersides, crevices etc. You can build up areas if you choose.
Step #3 Add the Flocking Fibre
Sprinkle the flocking onto the areas of medium. Any extra can be salvaged after it dries if you have it on a large paper or plastic sheet. I sweep up the material that did not adhere and I seem to get a lot of coverage with it.
Do let it dry thoroughly and then use a soft brush to gently sweep away what ever did not adhere. It is key that it is completely dry. If you did not know better you would think it was real!?
This technique can work with anything that you want to look like old mossy concrete. I gave this plaster artifact the faux concrete finish first.
And then added the moss the same way. You really can’t go wrong. Sometimes I even surprise myself…
Step #4 Enjoy!
The colour is quite nice with the garden green as it is a blended mix of fibres. Will it last?
I have had these heads out in the elements for a year and they are still holding their moss quite nicely. It is a great way of adding some accent detail without adding crazy colours to concrete. I don’t think you will be disappointed! ‘Moss on’!
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They came out so great,!
where do you find the baby heads ? Love the moss thing.
I made those heads. It wasn’t that difficult. See here. It will depend what dolls you can find though. Nowadays kids tire of stuff so quickly there are loads of dolls at thrift shops.
I love the idea of being able to have mossy stuff in the house without the damp! How tough is it once the glue dries?
It’s quite tough. If you are concerned about any ‘bits’ falling off,then a final layer of the matt acrylic medium will assure none falls off. The key is using enough ‘adherent’. Good luck
Have you ever gotten live moss showing up on some of you oldest cement projects outside? I too would like some live moss on some of my cement planters and other projects.
By the way, I was giving some ceramic face masks that would painted in bright colors and patterns that I did not care for so I painted them with a thin layer of cement and I now like them so much more now. I have also done this with other small ceramic items that where not the color or colors that I liked.
Live moss is so fussy on where it likes to grow. I suspect there is something to do with the PH as well. I have some stepping stones that are next to each other and one will be ‘green’ and the other not. Unless you have years to wait, I like to ‘make my own’. My weather is too fluctuating as well from super cold to super hot, prob not the best for moss…
I have an old metal bed I got for $5 at a yard sale. Do you think your moss would work on it
I assume it will be used in the garden. If you can get the acrylic medium or other paint to adhere then sprinkling moss in/on it will work. If it is rusty the paint it will have more to adhere to. I would keep it natural though. You could also use some fishing line and wrap some big chunks of found moss from the garden into corners. If the moisture/sun level is right it may like to grow… Just a thought. Good luck
Barb- I love you! I have been trying to grow the darn stuff for years and like you I have it everywhere but where I put it. This is genius and as soon as I am out of corona lock down i am doing this !! thank you so much for the wonderful tutorial. Stay well, T
It’s so rainy and damp here now it seems everything is green… But, it won’t cooperate! Good luck & be safe!
Thanks for documenting your process on the moss growing. I had the same problems with using the milk/blender method and it wasn’t even on concrete. I had a patch of lawn that naturally grew very mossy, but it got torn up by a construction grew one day. I tried putting the slurry on the dirt patches and keeping it moist, but it wouldn’t grow. I have a feeling that the method is always bad. I don’t know why it is so widespread on the internet. Maybe people want to believe because it seems so easy.
Nature has a specific balance that we sometimes don’t really see. That’s why there is no moss in parking lots! It is very particular about where it wants to take up residence.
I absolutely love this! Just what I was looking for to make my own moss covered statue. Thank you for the easy to follow instructions and great pics.
The colour may fade somewhat over time if in the sun as everycolour pretty well does. Mine have held and been out in the garden for years now. I think if I am lucky they will eventually grow their own moss!