Easy Concrete Birdbath

Discussion in 'Hobbies and Crafts' started by carolyn, Jul 6, 2011.

  1. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2011
    Messages:
    6,545
    Likes Received:
    1,423
    My friend and I got together one night and made these. they were so easy I thought I would show everyone how to make them. Hopefully I am able to make it look as easy as it was.



    [​IMG]
    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )


    Sand is necessary for the mound that the leaf sets on. make it according to the size of your leaf.


    [​IMG]
    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )


    Choose your leaf


    [​IMG]
    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )


    Gather your tools and materials. A mixing box of some sort or a 5 gal. bucket, maybe. Gloves are necessary for handling the wet concrete. Don't do this without them. And a mortar hoe if available, otherwise just use a garden hoe.


    [​IMG]
    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )



    A mound of sand sized to your leaf.

    [​IMG]
    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )


    Turn your leaf upside down, so that it sets with the curve of the leaf "hugging" the sand. the veins on the back should be visible and turned up towards the sky.


    [​IMG]
    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )

    Mix your concrete to the consistency of brownie mix. adding water a little at a time (like a cupful at a time)



    [​IMG]
    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )


    once you have the correct consistency begin by putting a handful of mix in the center of the leaf, patting it down and out towards the edge of the leaf, handful by handful, until you get to the edge of the leaf. following the contour of the leaf as you go. By doing it this way you are patting out any air bubbles that are trapped. try not to pat the crown of the mound flat as you go. otherwise you will have lost the "dish" of the birdbath and it wont hold any water.


    [​IMG]
    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )





    [​IMG]
    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )



    When you get to the final step of shaping the birdbath you may want to add chicken wire for added strength. this may depend on the size of your leaf. this leaf is extremely large, therefor I added a piece as I reached the end of the shaping step. At this point my birdbath is approximately 2" thick at the center. Maybe 1" thick at the edge.

    [​IMG]
    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )



    add a pedestal so that the leaf sits up off the ground. I add a fist sized rock as the base of the pedestal. otherwise the pedestal continues to sink or spread out as you are trying to make it.

    [​IMG]
    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )



    The finished leaf/birdbath

    [​IMG]
    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )



    Let the leaf sit for 24 -48 hours before moving it. The larger the leaf the longer it should set.

    [​IMG]
    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )



    Begin picking or peeling off the leaf. removing as much of it as you can. At this point the veins will be recessed down
    in the concrete. don't dig for them, at this point. the concrete is still soft enough that it is easy to chip or gouge the birdbath. After a couple more days you can try getting them out. I used a meat pick from the nut cracker set that I had in the kitchen drawer(that I have never used).
    I also sprayed it with a garden hose to wash off some of the debris.

    [​IMG]
    ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )



    Cleaned leaf. This is 8 -9 days after the casting.

    [​IMG]
    Large birdbath ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )


    The finished birdbath. This is my "worker" son, Adrian. If I need something done outside he is the one to get it done.

    You also need to apply a coat of concrete sealer after the birdbath has cured for one week. I just used quickrete brand, there are several brands to choose from, Thompsons is another one.
     



    Advertisement
  2. Jerry Sullivan

    Jerry Sullivan Garden Experimenter Plants Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Messages:
    5,602
    Likes Received:
    1,465
    Location:
    Chelmsford MA
    Thank you Carolyn for the directions. Now I have to wait till next year as I ate all the large rhubarb and I only have small leaves.........on second thought I could make leaf dishes for small bird baths and for drinking. Then next year do the larger birdbath. Cool.

    jerry
     
  3. Sjoerd

    Sjoerd Strong Ash

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2006
    Messages:
    9,564
    Likes Received:
    1,522
    Location:
    West - Friesland
    It was interesting to see the mechanics of how you did this. I can imagine that the birds (and other animals) would certainly use it.
    Well done, you!
     
  4. calinromania

    calinromania Young Pine

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2006
    Messages:
    1,549
    Likes Received:
    356
    Location:
    Oradea, Romania
    Wow. Haven't realized up until the last pic how huge the leaf really is.
    I am gonna try a birdbath one of these days... I just need courage!
    But might try first with a smaller leaf...
    LOL

    Nice work...
     
  5. eileen

    eileen Resident Taxonomist Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005
    Messages:
    23,650
    Likes Received:
    1,250
    Location:
    Scotland
    Gee that leaf was HUGE!! What great instructions for anyone who fancies making a birdbath of their own.
     
  6. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2011
    Messages:
    6,545
    Likes Received:
    1,423
    Thanks.
    Jerry, the first ones we made, we made some out of hosta leaves. Same concept, just smaller and the pedestal won't be quite as large.

    Cal, this project was uber easy. Having the tools was the hardest part. I had to go to my husbands shop and confiscate most of them. Otherwise I would have been puzzled as to what to use for the mortar box, I was glad we had one.( I got the privilege of using it to help the mason who laid the foundation of my lean-to greenhouse.) The hoe is one specifically for mixing concrete, but any hoe would do. It just would have a little more resistance to the mixing method.
     
  7. gfreiherr

    gfreiherr Young Pine

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2009
    Messages:
    1,344
    Likes Received:
    331
    Location:
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Very informative posting and I love the final result.
     
  8. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2011
    Messages:
    6,545
    Likes Received:
    1,423
    Sjoerd, I have seen my cats scouting them for drinks in the flower beds. But not a bird yet, although I could have easily missed that.
     
  9. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

    Joined:
    May 5, 2009
    Messages:
    11,478
    Likes Received:
    2,974
    Location:
    S. Liberty County - Texas (8B)
    Excellent instructions. I think I can do this! What size bag and type of concrete did you use?
    Now, I just have to wait on some bigger leaves.
    The finished product is totally awesome. If I were a bird... I'd stop by there and do some splashing about! :D
     
  10. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2006
    Messages:
    15,697
    Likes Received:
    2,108
    Location:
    North Texas, Zone 8a
    My goodness that is a huge leaf. I could try a much smaller version using an Elephant Ear leaf, mine aren't the really large ones but the birdbath could hang in a tree.
    A few years ago I bought some concrete and a large metal pan for doing just that but have never gotten it done.

    Your son is a good looking young man, by the way. It's so nice of him to be willing to help and with a smile on his face too.
     
  11. Jerry Sullivan

    Jerry Sullivan Garden Experimenter Plants Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Messages:
    5,602
    Likes Received:
    1,465
    Location:
    Chelmsford MA
    They do make cement coloring so I suppose you could add coloring for a different look.

    Jerry
     
  12. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2011
    Messages:
    6,545
    Likes Received:
    1,423
    Hi cheryl, This project took two 40lb bags and a little more from a third bag. I should have put that in the post, but I forgot. Most leaves DO NOT take this much concrete. so don't be afraid to do one. We used two 80lb bags the first time and got 4 large leaves and 3 hosta leaves for the amount of concrete we had to work with. I am waiting on my castor beans to get bigger to use those. I also did one from a burdock leaf.

    The quickrete comes in 40lb and 80lb bags. i chose the 40lb bags , not because I couldn't lift the 80's, but because I didn't want to hurt myself trying to bend over and pour it at the same time.

    Thanks Toni for the complement on my son. He is a great kid. He's the one who saved my chicken coop from the skunk. Which by the way still smells!
    You can do this it is actually very easy.

    Jerry, the first one I made I painted the leaf with acrylic paint. It sucks the color right into the concrete and is part of the finish

    [​IMG]
    rhubarb leaf bird bath ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )





    [​IMG]
    Hosta leaf birdbaths ( photo / image / picture from carolyn keiper's Garden )



    I did not paint these and then seal them. I painted the leaf before I put the concrete on it.
     
    Frank likes this.
  13. daisybeans

    daisybeans Hardy Maple

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    3,675
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    annapolis md
    Really love this Carolyn! I'd like to try it too. Great instructions, by the way -- thanks for taking the time to put it together. Your son is a good looking young man with a great smile... nice of him to help you (and us) out with this.
     
  14. Philip Nulty

    Philip Nulty Hardy Maple

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2010
    Messages:
    4,065
    Likes Received:
    1,458
    Location:
    The Midlands,Ireland
    Very good Carolyn,..apart from using it as a Bird Bath,..the finished work is attractive,..and an addition to any garden,..with many options,..well done to you and your son.
     
  15. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2011
    Messages:
    6,545
    Likes Received:
    1,423
    Thanks Daisybeans for the complement on Adrian. He is such good help. You are very welcome for the tutorial, it was a little time consuming(mostly trying to have clean hands to hold the camera) to take the pictures from first to last, but I really appreciate when others do the same for a project I wonder if I could do myself.

    Thanks philip and gfreiherr for your kind words also. the project was fun and the finished product is a keeper. or a great gift for someone else.

    everyone, please feel free to ask any questions if there is something that isn't clear enough if you want to try the project. I hope I didn't forget to include anything.