Before you start laughing, let me say I have had this idea mulling in my brain for a while now! As a concrete crafter I always assess the feasibility of using ANYTHING as a mold… Wierd may also mean unique; you won’t believe how these Concrete Bubble Orbs are made!
Come on, eat chocolate:
Did you recognize the shapes?! Maybe you do not eat enough chocolate to know – Toffifee! ‘Or maybe it’s Toffifay if you are in the United States. Ok, I didn’t eat them all at once but I have been saving the containers for a while. Toffifee is a yummy small bite caramel encased chocolate with a hazelnut in the middle, and it is a ‘half-sphere’! I love my orbs, balls and spheres so I knew I needed to make something with them.
The packaging is flexible and smooth and does pop back into shape pretty easily after using. Make sure to use a fine, fast setting concrete mix though – RapidSet Cementall is perfect for this! The concrete is mixed a bit on the more fluid side and poured easily into the forms without a mold release. Since the Toffifee packaging is shiny and smooth plastic it does not stick to the concrete.
Pop, pop, pop, out come the cute little concrete bubbles, pretty perfectly formed… and many of them!
Make a few batches as you just never know how many you will need! You can not have too many…
Find a Ball:
I prefer to use cheap play balls that are inflatable rather than balloons (more round) since they do not burst unexpectedly. I had to go find the ball that my grandson had decided was his soccer ball… Set it on a wide bowl to steady it.
Again the Rapidset Cementall is great for this (see alternate mixes here). The key to not having a fail is making sure the consistency is just right… like when you ice a cake – too runny icing and it will slide down.
Soak your cured ‘bubbles’ in water.
For this concrete mix I start with a small amount of water and then add the dry mix and let it absorb. For some tips see here. Surprisingly it will absorb quite an amount of the dry mix. When it is not sinking down any more I will stir it to see how much it flows or slumps. It sets really quickly especially if warm so mix only a bit at a time.
Giving it a 30 second rest will also have it thicken a bit. Plop some on the top of the ball and see if it stays… If, then start to set your wet bubbles (blott them before adding) into the wet concrete. Simple as that….
It is a bit of a balancing act. as you work further outward reposition the ball to keep balanced. Make sure to keep access to the valve for deflation later on.
When adding another section having a wet edge will make sure they bond. Keeping a brush with water handy is helpful.
It is up to your design; space the bubbles or keep closely covered, whatever you wish. You may almost cover completely if you let the bottom half cure enough to turn over. My intention was to make a vessel of some type – like a bowl or planter.
Super smooth perfection is more difficult than some texture so I embrace detail texture.
These shapes remind me of space and satellites. I have yet to come up with a great name?
These lil’ bubbles would also be interesting as a base for a lamp! Can you picture it?!
‘Fun stuff and also quite simple since the little bubbles are doing most of the ‘design work’. During the curing (not drying) it does help to mist it with water to give the concrete strength.
Simple uncoloured concrete has it’s charm too. If you plan on using this method for a larger garden orb you may want to reinforce with some drywall mesh imbedded into the first layers like my other orbs. The design of the edges is your preference, and as you know I am usually a bit organic in my choices.
Softening & rounding the edge comes easily with a brush/water. I rather finish it when wet with a brush than sanding cured concrete.
Adding Colour Accent:
To allow flexibility I keep a neutral palette; blacks, grey and some metallics. I imagine a moss garden in it or a catch-all at the front hall table… whatever you desire.
Thinned acrylic paint that seeps into the crevices accents the textures.
Cover completely with this thin coat. On exterior concrete thin coats tend to stay put. The concrete is allowed to breathe through it and it does not peel. Thick coats tend to get pushed off by the moisture escaping the porous concrete.
To make the bubbles ‘pop’ (stand out) some dry-brushing with white lightens them subtly.
Only a small amount on the brush is best when dry brushing. I was in a bit of a hurry as I just finished this the day before my second knee replacement. ( I need to keep up for my readers!)
Metallic seems to always be a great accent as it adds shine to the bubble Orbs and also some life to the grey. Bright gold dry-brushed onto these ‘silly barnacles’…
I love my old brushes, by-the-way! They may be worn out, taped together and have quite the history but I can’t seem to say goodbye to them!
One Orb – many looks!
Asymmetrical edge design means it looks different from each direction! The ‘nubblies’ also allow it to sit at different angles; perfect for planting vessels.
‘Barb’s Barnacles’ on a concrete Orb! Silly but Aesthetic design! What do you think?! Will it make you eat some chocolate?!
Thanks for joining me…
On my crazy concrete escapade! Best thing – a reason to eat chocolate! Enjoy & Let me know how your bubble orbs turn out! Ouch… I hope this darn knee does heal fast! It really slows me down! 🦿
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Great job! I love the possibilities of this. Mold looks like a Roche box.
Hmmm, I’ll need to get some of that chocolate! Happy inventing!
It looks like you painted the inside. If making a planter, or filling with some other filling for exterior use, I assume that the inside would remain plain? Does it need to be treated in some way to make a planter out of it?
Freshly cured concrete will leach out some alkalinity which plants do not necessarily love, but after a while will stop. One option is to soak in water and then change the water. You will notice it does feel soapy. The other option is to seal it with something. Acrylic will work and food-safe countertop sealers would also. I usually go the route of soaking a few times.
Love, love, love all of your creative ideas! Nice to see someone else’s brain comes up with weird stuff.
Isn’t that how some of the best ideas are hatched – staying open to ALL possibilities!
This is SO cool!!!! Beautiful and relaxing video to watch btw…….I can’t wait to try this out some day. And I’m so glad to see that I’m not the only one that looks at those interesting clear package/display throwaways and thinks up ideas to create with them. I get some strange looks when I ask if I can take the liner of an empty candy or whatever display home with me. Whatever!!!! LOVE how your creative mind works Barb, and so grateful of how you inspire others by sharing it with the world!!
It’s so nice to know I am not alone! I am old enough now that I do not need to apologize… I can OWN it! But, funny; you watch – it will be copied pro right away! You’ve seen it first here!
Far Out, Barb! Could add some outer space music or whale song. Follow your doctor’s orders; no fancy dancing. Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery. nv
Thanks! Good thing the view is amazing as spring is bursting finally in Canada! Every time I look at leaves… I dream of eco printing!
Have you played with Pearl-Ex powdered pigment yet? I tried a couple of bottles, but somehow they have increased to 26 and counting. It mixes with just about anything, and has some gorgeous interference and duo-tone shades…
Ohhhh, that sounds very opulent! I bet it has a lot of particles and therefore good metallic effect. 26?! Hmmmm, I better try not to cross that line.
Barnacles and sea urchins also crossed my mind when seeing theis. As always you made a good job of it! I might enroll my children to the job of emptying the trays as I do not like tofifees (am I theonly one?)
Good luck with your new knee!
Haha, I wish I had that problem. Thanks, the knee takes all the time it needs 🦿
We are kindred Canadian spirits… I saw the same in plastic trays from potstickers at Costco…they looks like round leaf impressions 😁 made a large quantity then I ran outta good weather last fall. I had an idea to join inside my soccer ball forms but your external application looks cleaner and easier to place. Thx for all you do and the inspiration!!
Interesting! Sounds like a plan! In my mind; creativity can come from the oddest places. That’s the true test. I’d love to see it when done…
Is there an alternate in the USA that you know of for the concrete that you use? I’ve used Portland cement in the past… I think because it’s smooth and strong.
Love how this turned out, Barb
I am pretty sure that Rapidset Cementall is available in the US. There is also this Quikrete Product – Fast set Non-Shrink Grout When reading the specs on the bag look for fast setting times and also that it can be used very thin. (no aggregate in the mix). Portland cement is in most mixes but alone it may not give you the strength.
Live in Costa Rica. Have had fun with concrete in the past (in USA). Now I want to get into it again here.
Do you ever use GROUT. The mixture that goes between tiles. There is alot of it here because every where, tile is used. So Grout is cheap. Can it be used with cement? What proportions? Anything you can tell me about using grout.
I have not really used grout but I have not really tested it. Grout sometimes has additives like acrylic and polymers. If you can get a bit make a small bolw or something with a plastic mold like a bowl and see how strong it ends up. I do have a project in my mind that will be a mosaic type of orb and I am going to try the grout. I believe if there’s a will there is usually a way…