Here is a simple cement Christmas tree decor project for all you minimalists at heart.
PREPARING THE MOLDS
- cardboard/paper mold material–poster board, paper plates (coated), party hats, etc.
- empty cups/jars for support
- scissors, plastic bags
- cooking oil spray
- white stones (optional)
I looked around for a cone-shaped objects I could use as a molds, and didn’t find anything that was quite right. You might find a traffic cone, toy, champagne flute, or the like. I made my cone molds from paper, such as poster board, coated paper plates, and cone-shaped party hats.
For smaller trees, I used coated paper plates and party hats as molds. I made a cut in the paper plate from the outside to the center, then formed it into a cone and taped it in place. The party hat needed to be turned inside-out so the coated side was on the inside. When taping, I overlapped it a little from the original party hat shape so that it was a narrower cone.
For the largest tree, I cut a rectangle from poster board, rolled it to a cone shape, and taped the outside seam with masking tape. I had picked out a disposable cup that I planned to use for support for the poster board cone, and cut the rectangle a few inches wider than the height of the support cup.
Spray the inside of the cones with cooking spray oil.
Below you can see the molds in the support cups. I used plastic bags in the cups to help keep the cones in position in the cups.
I wanted to try something new, so I filled each of the molds with white stones that I bought at Dollar Tree. If you want a smoother tree, stay away from the stones.
Then I was ready to mix and pour the cement.
MIXING AND POURING CEMENT
- cone-shaped mold
- measuring cups, spoons
- dust mask
- protective gloves
- mixing bowl
- Quikcrete anchoring cement, Cement All, or a similar anchoring cement
- latex paint, optional (for instance, most interior wall paint)
- white rocks (optional)
- spray oil
- sandpaper (optional)
Mix the cement according to this recipe:
A rough estimate of how much dry cement needed to make a batch that will fill a mold is to start with 1 and a half volumes of the mold of cement. So fill your mold with dry cement and put this in a mixing bowl, then fill your mold halfway with dry cement and put it in the mixing bowl. Note how much cement this is (by volume), and then determine how much water and paint to use according to the recipe above. If you are using rocks like I did, use about 1 volume of cement instead of 1.5 to start. These are estimates to get you in the ballpark.
Once you have mixed a few batches, you might not need to measure anything. I usually just measure the cement, add a bit of paint, and add water until I get the consistency I want. I mix with a gloved hand, but you can use a spoon, stick, or similar. For this project, I adjusted the batch to the consistency of runny pudding–rather thin so the cement would flow and fill in around the stones.
After I mixed the paint, water, and cement, I dribbled more of the paint on the surface. This is an optional technique that gives some color variation to the cement.
Then I poured the cement into the molds. I tapped the molds to help the cement move around the stones and to let air bubbles escape. I made two batches to fill the molds, and in the second batch I dribbled white paint.
I let the castings cure several hours, then tore away the paper molds. Done. If needed, you can sand rough edges with sandpaper. I was pleasantly surprised with how the white stones look. In person, the stones glisten and remind me of snow.
If any of you are in the mood to make DIY cement Christmas gifts, here are a few ideas from previous posts. I’m planning to make LOTS of cement decor, and some furniture, to give as gifts this Holiday season. Cement furniture and decor are super unique and super inexpensive to make.
Large Thin-Walled Bowl
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