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I always get asked about how well my concrete projects last. Come, let me update you as I take you on my garden tour of concrete projects!

And it started here:

Over 15 years ago I started my concrete adventure with these stepping stones. I now have a collection of leaves all ages and ‘patinas’ and am happy to say they have had no issues. I did not seal them or paint them at all but do make sure to give them a well balanced foundation! If they are not set right the most typical break is down the centre where the deep vein is; but that is not noticeable if set in the ground. Since I live in Ontario Canada we get a full range of weather. Concrete was my choice for its’ lasting power. I can’t say I am disappointed at all! I like it when they get a bit mossy and green as it is a great compliment to the garden design. And oh ya, there’s my Pup side-kick always has my back!

Everyone’s Favourite:

It’s hard to believe that this Step Spook is going to be 5 years old soon! He has sat on that stump year round (there’s a nail to keep the raccoons from pushing him off) without change of any kind to the concrete. Sadly the Spook’s image has been stolen by some fraudsters who claim to be able to sell you one – not the case at all!

I especially like it when he’s got a layer of snow and there are some visitors to the yard! I am so thankful that the deer are trusting enough to come & munch on some of my garden.

His dear friend the Witch also shares the garden. She was even host to a nest of birdie eggs! These projects fair well since they were not painted or coloured at all. I do not see a reason to seal them as them are not trying to hold water. When they get wet they then dry again…just like the sidewalks.

Since I have a woodsy backyard there are old trees stumps to keep these off the ground. As long as there is no water collecting then there is no chance of freezing. The Portland Cement used for these makes for quite dense finishes on these. I see no change happening. The cat has been hiding in the lilies for almost 3 years!

Come have a seat:

I’m sitting in the backyard right now but not in my Faux Bois chair. It is lovely but a bit hard on my boney butt. The grape vine has taken a liking to it however. Since there are no parts that will really keep any water it has faired great through the crazy fluctuations of weather we have here. There is only a tiny spot where a layer had chipped off an older layer, probably due to a bonding problem. When adding another layer make sure there is an grease ad the older concrete is damp. It sits mostly shaded so it will continue to get mossy and more patina.

Front Yard Orbs:

My front yard is a bit more manicured since it gets more street access. The back woodland garden has many challenges so it is futile to ‘fight’ Mother Nature! For curb appeal I think of clean lines, shapes and colours. The orbs give simple shapes to accent the curves of garden beds and mounded evergreen bushes. On a whim I may redesign them, as nothing is permanent.

The smaller Rock And Concrete orbs are planted with succulents or whatever I have lots of. I tip them sideways in the winter to make sure they do not collect water. It is also beneficial to keep them out of the sun to keep from freezing and thawing too often. They are over 3 years old already and even the acrylic paint has held well. I also credit the Rapidset Cementall since it is a very strong dense mx.

I like the way the textures seem like they occur naturally! Even the copper paint has held well after over 3 years in the elements. I am now at the stage where perennials are full and some favourites like Creeping Jenny come back each year. No expensive trips to the garden centre…

Crazy Orb Lady:

Yes some are REALLY big! The Giant Concrete Orbs have also lasted great over 4 years. The paint colour may have faded a bit but I am not that worried since I do not rely on the colour, and it is on the inside. I often throw some string lights in them during the Christmas season or even make Snowmen.

My prize Orb is the Gigantic Leaf Orb as it’s texture is as great now as when I made it 3 years ago. I think of it every time I look at savoy cabbage. No sealer at all! I find that the fast setting mixes are quite dense and therefore the water absorbs less. All these orbs have holes; that is the key to no chance of water collecting and freezing. I have left metal buckets out and the bottom completely pops out when it freezes.

Here’s looking at you…

Yes this Concrete Face Garden sculpture did take a few steps (it’s huge!) but I get quite the enjoyment from those quiet pondering eyes in all lights of the day. The plants grow up around them and they patina to match the rockery. It is such a nice evening as I sit here and write this post, keeping an eye on the Pup since there are coyotes in the forest. Soooo many birds are flitting here & there all competing wit their songs.

Ground cover like ivy and periwinkle make for a pretty maintenance free garden and it grows around the concrete elements to envelope them as if there for decades.

There’s also some Fun!

At the very front is a the patch that gets the most sun so it is my succulent garden. Rocks and Canada-hardy succulents make for a pretty indestructible garden that get piled quite high with sidewalk snow in winter. To give passersby some chuckle the Concrete Smiling Stones have been grinning from between the succulents. They have lost some of their pinkness of the gums but otherwise I’m impressed as the zipper did not even rust after 4 winters under mounds of snow.

You know I like rocks… as it makes everything look like it belongs! Add a bit of bling that looks like some molten copper. I do notice that the metallic acrylic paints do seem to fade less.

These Geode Eggs are still quite young and keep getting lost down in the ivy. The last couple winters have surprised us with derr coming up to munch the ivy. Good thing it does grow back!

I have so many concrete bowls here and there! When I get on a roll I make a bunch… I get lazy when fall and winter comes and at the most I just tip them sideways to allow draining. In spring I just pilfer from the gardens and shove in ‘this & that’ – no pretentious planters here.

One Casualty:

Well, there was one unfortunate concrete project. If you look closely there is a face there… a smirking frog. This is made like the PaperCrete Bird, hollow and the use of paper pulp in the mix. During a photoshoot someone mistakenly thought it was solid and could be stepped (more like stomped) on. Well, that didn’t end well. I also did notice that PaperCrete absorbs water much more than other concrete. RIP poor froggie…

Nope! not the skulls

I do not keep these Super Real look Concrete Skulls outside… some people already think I am bit crazy, so I can’t take the chance on some police dropping by…

So what’s your concrete ‘pleasure’?! Have you had good success with your projects? Aren’t you happy that you made things with concrete?!

barbmaker

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

This Post Has 34 Comments

      1. No, I disagree! Take credit where credit is due! You ARE SO TALENTED! ILove your projects and I don’t think I would be able to make those like you do!

        1. Do you teach classes? I have made a few things and have seen many on pinterest. I really want to do faces for my garden. I have had trouble with leaves breaking after spending so much time on them. My uncle Wayne Hayden told me about you and I am really impressed with your work. I hope to hear from you. Deborah Brooks

          1. So far I do not. There are many things to consider to do classes. Sorry to hear about your leaves. Have you figured out why?

  1. Barb, I love your amazing concrete garden projects! How did you ever get the detail so intricate on that chair?? I love to do free form concrete art as well but My “tree”details always end up looking like scratch marks.. haha!
    Loved your faces…. Just everything is wonderful!

    1. I like to collect images of knurly wood and interesting textures! It’s like abstract art in a way. Using the fine mix also helps give the details. Theres much info in the post I now remember that I also wanted to make a stump planter (better write that down before I forget again)

  2. What a joy to follow you on the tour of your work. Been a fan since you began posting and have made several of your projects. Feel free to keep WOWING me.

  3. These are absolutely stunning. I love everything you do – you are certainly an onion of the arts and crafts world. Right now, I am living vicariously through your posts, but looking forward to embracing your inspiration and getting onto my own journey. Thank you!

  4. Barb you are an incredible artist! Every post I read I am so inspired to try these things, altho I am a bit scared at the same time. It is summer here in hot East Texas but I think I am going to be brave and try one of your simpler concrete projects first, because I would love to make the stepping stones eventually. Where would I find these large leaves tho? My garden does not have anything near as big. Thank you so much for sharing and for your inspiration.

    1. If you read the post you will see it is the Rhubarb leaves! There are also other species like the thistle, anything that has a good vein structure will do! Make sure to get the right mix too! Best of luck!

  5. I have been wanting to do this forever, but live in a condo with small space to plant, I especially love the eggs with bling you make and think I might be able to do this in the small : patio for mixing. Question about my idea: can I embed sparkly glass or jewels in resin, within a mold, let it harden, and then pour concrete over this form?

  6. I just love all of your concrete pieces, they are all so amazing. You do such beautiful work. I must try to make some this summer. Thanks for your interesting blog. Edna

  7. Hi, Barb.
    I still like your botanical reliefs best but your chairs are a close runner-up (because I have more padding). Maybe one of your chairs could have a smoother seat featuring a botanical theme? Best of all possible worlds. nv.

    1. Yes, there’s always ways to combine ideas and that makes even more unique projects… My brain sometimes feels like a sparkler coming up with all kinds of ideas!

  8. I just love your concrete face and the way it’s blending into the garden!!! We went to a public gardens in Cornwall uk several years ago and there was a beautiful serene female sculpture laying there very weathered- I loved it!!

  9. I absolutely love your creativity! My absolute favorite is the Stoop Spook but the succulent orbs are sooo beautiful! Do you sell any of your work? I would love to purchase some pieces!

    Teresa Greenwald

    1. The problem with selling is often the shipping. The size of the spook would make shipping way too high. The succulent orb also weighs about 7 pounds. I am setting up to sell some of the Botanical Relief Castings and hoping shipping works out for them. I am also in Canada.

  10. Thank you so much My bag of concrete and recycled objects are waiting for me to do something. Alas! I only got as far as 10 unpainted concrete gloved hands and they’re scattered partly under small bushes.. Very inspiring concrete ideas. Barbara

  11. Hi there. I am borrowing your baby head planter project to form a library program for teens. So far I have about fifteen cement baby doll heads on my desk at work. I’m getting a reputation for being weird. Aaaanyway, I want to give my group good advice. Should I tell them these babies need to be kept inside? Or do they need to be sealed if they go outside? We’re planting succulents into them. I appreciate your guidance!

    1. Oh wow! I am impressed! Well, that rapidset cementall is very dense and I find not that absorbent like usual concrete so I do not seal them. They can go outside keeping in mind that they do not fair well with freezing (sealed or not) since the inside soil would expand and crack the outside. I bet they want them inside anyways!

      1. Thank you so much for the reply!!! We are all so excited for this program. I’ll leave them as is and let them know to keep them indoors.

  12. Hello Barb,

    You’ve inspired me, and I’ve gotten my hands into concrete. I’m so far having success brushing my trial molds with vegetable shortening, which is working out well. I made a few samples and their strength seems okay, but I have one big concern before I continue onto creative endeavors. I left them on the deck and they seem to absorb a lot of water on the surface. Do you use a sealant on your creations? I don’t want to put a lot of work into concrete elements only to have them destroyed in winters freeze/thaw cycles.
    Any opinions, advice or information would be greatly appreciated.

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