Monday, June 20, 2016

Concrete Mosaics - Shimmer and Shine!

 A concrete mosaic is like a treasure chest you create yourself, and it can really let your personality shine through. 

While you can vary your concrete garden pieces by using some that are purely rustic, adding a mosaic aspect to your garden ornaments adds a little flash n' dash to neutral surfaces. Inclusion of colored glass, marbles, dragon's tears and other found objects enhances the flat gray of concrete adding color, focus and interest. 

There are many way to work with concrete mosaics, but here are three I find myself using repeatedly.

1. The most simple and immediate is to insert the mosaic pieces directly into the concrete surface.  

Shaped glass pieces and marbles were used sparingly for this beautiful heart stepping stone.
Found objects make good ornaments as well and can be easily set into the concrete surface. Broken china and buttons were used on this flower stone.
Coins collected on foreign travels create an interesting spiral in this example below. 

All three of these mosaics were created using the same technique.  The basic shape is sculpted and formed into the desired design.  The surface is smoothed and allowed to set for 5 minutes. In the meantime, the pieces that will form the mosaic design are selected and put together as they will be applied to the concrete surface.  This is done in advance so that when it is time to insert them into the wet concrete, it can be done with dispatch as the concrete is continually getting harder and soon will be too hard to insert anything.

The glass pieces are placed on the surface of the wet concrete and then each piece is carefully tapped to the level of the concrete surface.  No need to be concerned if concrete smears onto the glass pieces. This can easily be cleaned off later.
When the concrete has set and hardened, usually over night, a plastic or wire brush is used to clean off dried concrete residue on the glass pieces.  Finally,the finished piece is hosed off and is ready for placement in the 
garden. This unusual looking fish is made in a similar manner to a hand-sculpted stepping stone but will serve as a stone underneath a downspout to direct water away from the house.

2. Another mosaic method involves casting a concrete piece designed with a recess for mosaic work.  The frog stone is an example of this technique.  The back of the frog is recessed for mosaic work.  After it comes out of the mold and is cleaned, fresh concrete is mixed and poured into the recess and then the mosaic pieces are applied similar to the first method.

3. The little owl stake is an example of a third mosaic technique that offers the most control to the artist.  Acrylic tile adhesive is applied to each piece of glass and then put in place on the owls body. The adhesive is allowed to dry overnight and then the mosaic is grouted with the same material used for tile floors and walls.

Note:  If you are a tufa fan, (hypertufa), you can also mix concrete and hypertufa for a custom piece, as we did for the Kansas City Live Art Attack.

You can create your own beautiful mosaic pieces yourself, and they make excellent garden memorial pieces for honoring pets or loved ones. You can even try incorporating pieces of a cherished dish or ceramic item for a new way to display it. Learn more by contacting From the Summer's Garden today. Shine on! 


sheets of silver water
spill incessantly into the pond
beauty before our eyes
beckons us to bathe in radiance

lost in froth
we find ourselves engulfed
by nature’s pulse, shimmering delight

Water Garden Society Tour this weekend, JUNE 25 & 26.  The hours are 9 to 5 rain (hope we get some!) or shine. Tickets good to view any or all of the 35 water gardens in the KC Metro are available at each of the host gardens
for just $10.  From the Summer's Garden is garden #32 on this year's tour.
Come get inspired and get ideas for your own pond or enjoy the hard work of the many fine water gardeners on this tour!  
More info:

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


Our first Hypertufa Studio of the summer is next weekend,
Saturday and Sunday, JUNE 11/12  9:00 - 12:00 each morning
The Hypertufa Studio offers a hands-on experience making Steve’s “green” version of HYPERTUFA, a mix of cement, sand, recycled paper fiber and water. You’ll mix, mold and sculpt concrete and hypertufa into unique and functional garden art including a box planter, a bird puddler, cast leaves, a stepping stoned and a sculpted garden gnome. Most participants take home 4-5 finished projects from this two-day session on Saturday and Sunday mornings.


Beach Pail Container
While lolling on the beach last summer, I watched as a couple of kids building a sand castle.  They were packing brightly colored plastic pails with damp sand to create circular blocks to build their fortress wall.  It occurred to me that these plastic pails would make excellent molds for planting containers and I found a nice blue one at discount store for under $3.  You can put a wire handle on the container in keeping with the pail idea and kids would love to help you with this project!

What You Need
-Large plastic sand pail- don’t worry about the design on it, look for one of good size                                           that is smaller at the bottom and wider at the top.
- plastic to cover your work surface
-a pair of mud gloves
-baking spray
-cross-cut shredded paper, preferably white office memos
1 bag sand-topping concrete mix
- plastic mix tub or large 5 gallon pail
-heavy wire for the handle and a large nail
-beads for decoration if desired
-and the little shovel that comes with the pail

What You Do
1. Spread out the protective plastic over your work surface and put on gloves.
2. Fill your plastic pail mold three times with shredded paper.  Dump the buckets of paper shred into the mixing tub or large pail.
3. Fill the bucket to the brim with hot water and pour over the paper in the large pail.
4.  With the gloves on, mix n’ mash the paper into a smooth mush.
5.  Add sand-topping concrete mix 1 cup at a time until you end up with a gray clay-like mass that resembles gray hamburger, around 5-6 cups.
6.  Spray the inside of the plastic pail with the none-stick spray and pack the hypertufa into the container from the bottom up.  ¾” is a good thickness for the walls of the container.
7.  Squeeze the rim to round it off and crimp edge with your finger or a stick.  Poke a drainage hole in the bottom as well. 

8.  If you’d like to add a handle, poke two holes opposite from one another about 1” down from the top rim of the pail using a large nail.
9.  Allow to cure for three days.  When hard, remove from pail and burnish rough edges with a gloved hand. 

10.  Accessorize and plant up your sand pail container.

Tip:  Use small brads and a hammer to add decoration to the sides.