Pretty little cupcake pots in ‘Concrete Garden Projects’ | LA at home

What says “I love you” more than a concrete cupcake? They look sweet and are half baked in a humorous way. In terms of potential holiday table decorations and DIY gifts, these little treats – one of many in the new book “Concrete Garden Projects” – have it all.

Concrete garden projectsPart of the appeal of Malin Nilsson and Camilla Arvidsson’s book is its simplicity: most of the jars, vases, candle holders, springboards, and decorative figurines in the book were created by following the same simple steps: finding an interesting mold, the fill with concrete, Let it dry.

If you have chosen your molds well, the results are superb. The pots pictured here were made with giant silicone cupcake molds, firm enough to hold their shape but flexible enough to remove concrete with incredible ease.

The authors recommend brushing the molds with vegetable oil; I spray my silicone shapes with Pam. Put in some wet mixed concrete, hammer in a smaller object to create the inner well (I used inexpensive IKEA glass votive candle holders, also sprayed from Pam), then level and smooth the top with wet fingers. After two days of baking in indirect sunlight, the silicone molds and votive holders can be removed. Your cupcakes are ready.

These things work best as a tea light holder, but if you want to use them as miniature pots with drainage, place a half-inch piece of oiled cork on the bottom of the mold before pouring in the wet concrete. When the jar is dry, the cap should pop out.

Concrete 2 litersI have tried about 10 types of mussels. A scalloped cake pan worked well to make a larger pot, and when the stopper didn’t come off, I just pierced it. The small, triangular sushi molds bought in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles were the only obvious failure. The concrete did not separate from the mold, possibly because the plastic was ridged – so detailed in texture, the concrete had too much surface to cling to.

More intricate projects such as birdbaths and benches are included in the book, captioned “Easy and Inexpensive Containers, Furniture, Water Features and More” (Timber Press, $ 19.95). But I preferred small-scale things, for which the choice of concrete mixes is particularly decisive.

Concrete comes in different compositions, some with more aggregates than others. The best results came with dry mortar, the finest mix that gave the smoothest texture. One large bag can do dozens of projects for under $ 10. I bought mine, labeled Spec Mix, from Home Depot, but for those who don’t want to carry a 94-pound bag and only do a few small projects, the store also had a Rapid Set Mortar Mix in a box of 25 pounds with an easy to carry handle. You’ll still pay around $ 10, but your back will thank you, and the projects will look just as good. Alternative recommendations: A large bucket and small trowel for mixing, a second bucket of water for rinsing hands, a box of latex or nitrile gloves, a dust mask and eye protection.

The love of experimentation also helps. Over time, I discovered that I liked the disposable molds, including a 2 liter soda bottle, above, and a 1 gallon water bottle, in part because the molds can be cut. and discarded after the concrete has dried. I even tried a 1 gallon plastic milk jug, and to my amazement the thin handle remained intact when I cut out the mold. What to do with a poured concrete milk jug? For now, mine will be sitting on my steps – the daily delivery of an imaginary milkman, placed next to a tray of cupcakes.


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– Craig Nakano, [email protected]

Photos: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times; book cover: Timber Press.

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