Concrete/cement home accessories are huge at the moment. It’s all part of the Scandi-meets-industrial trend that is growing and growing in the interiors world. There’s some seriously cool designs for sale which I’ve been swooning over.. in particular from Zakkia and Raw Luxe (check them out – gorgeous overload!) But when a product is made from a material which is so accessible and cheap, I can’t help but get inspired to try making it for myself first.
This tray was a random idea I had when walking through Bunnings the other week (often the way I think of most of my craft ideas… just wander the isles and look at the materials with an open mind – try it sometime! eg hello carpet headboard!) and it’s turned out much better than expected.
For some reason I was always a bit put off from trying cement tutorials, I thought I wouldn’t get the mix consistency right and it would all be a very sad fail. But take it from me people, it’s so simple and because you’re just pouring straight into existing moulds, it takes all of 10 minutes!
This DIY could easily be replicated with two plastic items of any shape and size to create basically anything – put two cups inside each other for a planter pot, or maybe two small bowls together to create a cement bowl dish. The trick is to try and find items which aren’t absorbent and have a smooth finish (so things like plastic and glass are perfect) this way your concrete will have a polished finish too.
- Two plastic trays. Mine were found in the gardening isle of Bunnings, as they’re meant to sit under plastic planter pots
- Cement mix
- Spoon or stick to mix the cement
- Oil and a tissue
- Fine sandpaper
First step is to mix your cement mix. I used this pre-mixed bag which already has the sand and aggregate combined – just add water. Comes in a handy small size too which is perfect for crafting, the next step up is the 20kg bag. I believe you can also get these bags in white cement if you don’t want the traditional grey colour.
Remember to cover your hands and mouth when mixing, and ideally do this in a ventilated area, as cement mix is carcinogenic.
Concrete mix will work just as well as cement mix, totally up to you. I liked the finish that cement mix gave as concrete mixes usually have small rocks in them, but others prefer the strength of concrete.
I found that the runnier your mix is, the smoother the finish will be. Aim for a consistency like a very thick pumpkin soup Watch too how the mix will seem much wetter when you stop stirring for a second. As you’re stirring the consistency feels much thicker than it is.
Now to add just a little oil to your trays so that the dried piece easily slips out from it. I’m not 100% sure if this step is necessary when using such a smooth plastic mould, but the oil doesn’t create any discolouration or anything so worth doing just in case! Smooth it all over with a tissue.
Pour in your concrete until it’s about 1.5cm from the top, spread it out a little, then give it several hard taps on the bench to release air bubbles. (the below pic is pre-tapping, yours should look quite even, smooth and wetter after tapping it)
Place your 2nd tray on top, push down until the cement is nearly spilling out the edges. Then tape securely to hold in place while it dries.
Leave it for the time recommended on your cement packet. I left mine for 24 hours. Then peel away the tape to reveal your masterpiece!
Give the edges a very gentle sanding…
You could paint a clear coat of varnish if you want to seal it, but I personally like the raw effect and plan on just using it to display my jewellery.
That’s it – pretty easy huh? My finish has some small bubbles in it but I kind of love the texture. If you want to avoid this make your mix even wetter than mine.
Totally addictive. I love that you can just pour the mix into any mould and the next day, wallah, you have a finished piece! Try pouring excess in a plastic cup and pop a candle stick in the top – instant awesome candle holder.