04 June, 2019

Watch Your Step

"So, we had this idea"; isn't that the first thing you usually hear when you're about to learn of someone's latest undertaking, their vision and all the details of what they endured and learned along the way?  This post is no exception! Like all great adventures, it started off innocently. We had "inherited" (translates to: found when cleaning out my MIL's house) a large number of hand-fabricated aluminum rings that my FIL had made for one of his long-ago ideas. We thought that they would be perfect forms from which to make stepping stones for the perennial garden. There are two sizes: 15" and 27". We kicked around some ideas for how to pattern them. I found a link to someone's blog on Pinterest where the maker had used a decorative rubber doormat to make some really pretty stones from concrete, she explained the process in detail and it seemed to be exactly the thing that we had in mind. We gathered the supplies: a doormat, Crisco, non-stick aerosol cooking spray and tons and tons of concrete mix! We were able to cut enough motifs from the original door mat to emboss four stones at a time (three small and one large). This cuts down on productivity and, considering that each "batch" takes twenty-four hours to dry, plus the fact that we figure we will require approximately fifty stones, our days are now consumed with stepping stone production! Every morning, at the crack of dawn (before it gets too hot), we've been up and mixing up wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of concrete and making our "daily four". We're in a rhythm now. The following photos will serve chronicle the process.

Inside each ring we laid out the motifs, initially, to make sure that they would fit properly for embossing. There is a layer of chicken wire inside each stone: concrete, wire, more concrete and then the rubber mat on top. 
Crucial for release is a liberal coating of non-stick cooking oil before placing in the form.
A days' full batch, drying in the sun. 

Close-up of a stone with the rubber form removed, next it will be gently tapped out of the ring form.
And so it goes, one day at a time and four more stones added for a path through the garden. 
There are four special stones for the grandchildren to discover placed randomly along the paths. 
We're all enjoying the garden project, even if we're not strolling through step by step; we have a quiet, tranquil place to rest and observe the birds and the emerging flowers at the end of each day.

Life is Good!


Quiltdivajulie said...

DH is about to embark upon the making of 20 more large hexagon concrete base slabs for our outdoor pots to sit on in the large bed under the trees. He has a small concrete mixer from Harbor Freight and he makes ours in groups of four, and like you allows them to dry 1-2 days before taking them out of the form. The homemade stones are SO much better than those at the hardware stores - deeper, better concrete, and personalized.

cityquilter grace said...

i see hannes is doing the "heavy looking on" part....a whale of an undertaking but that's what retirement is for i guess...so far so good!

Little Penpen said...

These are beautiful! You guys are so creative.

LizA. said...

I just LOVE these! What a great idea. I wonder if I can cancel Steve these are a good idea!

KaHolly said...

Oh, my goodness! These are great! Who’d have thought?! Obviously, someone did. Good luck making 50!

rondiquilts said...

Some of my favorite posts of yours are the ones where you two work on a project together. This post is no exception.


jude's page said...

What a great idea, and i see your garden plants are making progress too.