Concrete is one of my favorite materials to get creative with. In this post, I’m giving you in-depth instructions on how to make a simple bowl. This is an easy starter project, and the process is transferable to other concrete projects you dream up.
What you’ll need:
- Quickset concrete mix
- Two matching plastic bowls
- Mixing container or bucket (large projects only)
- Large craft stick or paint stir stick
- Rubber gloves
- Rocks or a heavy object that fits inside of your bowl
Project Notes – Read this before starting
The items you’ll be using for this project are likely going to only be suitable for concrete projects going forward unless you do some thorough cleaning. I suggest getting your plastic bowls and bucket at the dollar store or make sure they’re ready to take on their final career as concrete project helpers.
The size of the bowls you use is up to you, but starting smaller and working your way to bigger projects is my recommendation. Also, the more concrete you mix at once, the more difficult it is to mix by hand.
The bowls you use should be smooth on both the outside and inside. This will make it easy for them to release from the concrete, as well as giving the concrete a nice smooth finish.
Finally, use care and caution when working with concrete. Do not inhale it, or let it sit on your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Setting up your workspace
Cover you work area in newspaper to protect the work surface. Set out your mixing container, water, and your bowls. Use your scoop to add concrete to your mixing container. Add what you think will be enough concrete, and then add some more. It’s better to have some extra to work with than having to mix more after you start pouring.
Each brand of concrete will have instructions on the correct concrete to water ratio. You can use this as a guide, but we will add a more water to make the mix easier to work with.
I start by shifting the concrete in my mixing container so I can see part of the bottom of the container. This is where you will start adding in water. This helps distribute the water and make the mixing part easier.
Add a few ounces of water and mix. Repeat until there is no longer any dry concrete mix. The mix will still be thick and may be lumpy at this point. Keep adding small amounts of water until you have no more lumps and the concrete stirs easily. It’s important that you add water in small increments so it doesn’t thin out your mix too much. If your mix becomes too watery, add more concrete to thicken it up again.
Pouring into the mold
Add concrete to one bowl until it is about halfway full. Press the second bowl on top of the concrete and slowly press it down to squeeze the concrete up the sides between the bottom and top bowls. If your mix is thick, this may require some wiggling and shifting of the top bowl. The thickness of the concrete on the walls should be about 1/2 inch thick.
Keep pressure on the top bowl so the concrete doesn’t fall back down the sides. Add something heavy into the top bowl to keep the displaced concrete where it is. Large rocks, gravel, or a brick or two would work, depending on the volume of concrete.
The concrete will need to set for about 24 hours in the mold. Even though this is quick setting concrete, I recommend using the longer setting time so your bowl is less fragile when you de-mold it.
Remove the weights from the top bowl. If there is any flex to your bowl, gently squeeze in the opposite sides to release them from the concrete. Repeat until the bowl comes loose and lift it out.
Check on how well the concrete has set thus far. Since most of its surface area has been covered in plastic, it may still be quite wet, and possibly fragile. If you touch the inside of the concrete bowl and leave finger prints, let this continue to set for another day.
To remove the concrete from the bottom bowl, gently flip the bowl over, supporting the concrete with your hand so it doesn’t fall out. If the concrete is stuck, gently pull on the edges of the bowl to slowly release the sides until the concrete pops free.
Now that the concrete is out of the mold, it will need time to cure. This will take between 48 – 72 hours depending on the volume and thickness of the concrete you used. During the curing process, the concrete will release moisture. Be sure that it is sitting on a surface that can tolerate moisture. When the concrete looks uniform in color and is dry to the touch, it is cured.
After the concrete is fully cured, you can clean up the bowl edge if you want to. I sometimes like the character and variation, but it can be cleaned up a bit if you like. It is possible to sand the concrete, which you can do with a heavy grit sand paper, or my preference is to use a concrete sidewalk or paver stone.
To do this, flip the concrete bowl face down onto the pavement, and twist it back and forth until your edge becomes even. It’s important to note, this method and sanding will add texture to the edge in contrast to the smooth sides of the bowl.
Concrete can be painted, gold leafed, or decorated with mosaics, or left as is for an industrial look.
Now you have an awesome concrete bowl! I’ve used my concrete bowls as planters, I’ve painted them and poured candles into them, and simply used them for storing office supplies on my desk.
Let me know how you will use your concrete bowl in the comments section.