Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing
Okay, here are the questions that I tried asking in the GJ forum. I thank you for your willingness to help here and look forward to learning much! BTW, it's not mentioned below but I mainly plan to be mosaicing with stained glass. I've already picked out the glass for the first two baths.
DH and I are preparing to start making concrete mosaiced birdbaths (first ones as gifts, then later to sell) and we have so many questions. Most of the questions arose after reading many, many differing opinions online about the best ways to do things. I'll try to be as organized as possible with all my questions here. Thank you all for your help and the wonderful inspiration you give to all us beginners!
We are planning to purchase the column mold from History Stones because we like the form (and price) of that one. I can't seem to find a mold for the style bowl I like. I want one with a smooth bottom (to make mosaicing easier)and all the molds I've been seeing have some kind of decoration (dragonfly, raised center, etc.) in the middle of the bowl. Can anyone suggest where to buy a mold for the bowl or an easy (inexpensive) method of making one?
What is the best mix for a concrete birdbath? The things to keep in mind when answering this one: (1)We're on a pretty tight budget for these. (2)Many of these birdbaths will have a permanent home up north so the mix should be hardy enough for that. (Or do we just recommend people move them to the garage or something when the temps drop?) (3)Our main concern, because of all the birdbath posts we've read, is the concrete not holding the water, so we want a mix recommendation for that problem. We have seen so many varying opinions on this that our heads are spinning from it. One thing DH is wondering about...he found out Quikrete makes a "Fiber-Reinforced Concrete Mix" - Should we try this stuff?
I gather from all that I've read that concrete birdbaths must definitely be sealed and that they should completely cure before being sealed. Does this mean that after we unmold the baths that it'll be a month before I can seal them and therefore that long before I can begin a mosaic on them?
I know that I'll have to buy a sealant for the grout after I've mosaiced a birdbath. I've seen Aquamix has been recommended by others so I plan to look into that, if it's not horribly expensive. What about concrete sealants? Do I have to use a different product for that (meaning buy a concrete sealant and the grout sealant?) If so, what is the best and most reasonably priced to use for that? Also, if any of our mosaics have unglazed ceramic tiles, I read that we're supposed to use a "Tile and Grout Sealer" BEFORE grouting so that the tiles won't become discolored. Is this what Aquamix is?
And finally, this isn't quite related, but sort of is because it may be an option for us. Can anyone point me to a great tutorial on what Sandcasting is? I gather it's making your object with just piling sand up and no mold but have no idea where to get the most instructive info on it. I searched here and turned up alot of thread and don't know where to start. (Perhaps one of you have a good tutorial clipped?) I'd mostly be interested in making the bird bath bowl from mounded sand...
Forgive me for the long post. I'm just so excited to get started and if we're going to be gifting several of these concrete creations for Christmas, we must get a move on it!
Amy & Steve