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Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

Posted by arkurtz (My Page) on
Fri, Aug 17, 07 at 11:08

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


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

Here is a link I used for concrete leaf castings. Worked really well. I will let the real pros answer the rest of your questions. I have only done birdbaths on terracotta pots. It worked pretty well, but can be costly depending on how much terracotta you purchase.

Here is a link that might be useful: leaf casting


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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

I'm just gonna answer one part of your project questions. I recommend fortified mortar for mosaicing the glass onto the concrete birdbath. As all on this forum know, my favorite is Mapei Ultra Flex 2, sold at Lowes. Anything comparable w/be fine, but for outside mosaics I use Ultra Flex 2 for the adhesive and the grout. It is a cement-based mix and w/withstand the elements anywhere.


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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

Concrete is inherently hydraulic in nature and thereby will hold water.

Sealants are a major concern over whether they are poisonous to birds, please request and study MSDS sheets on all products and inquire with manufacturers. It would be aweful to think you gifted or sold birdbaths that kill birds.

Do not use tesserae that is not fully rated for outdoor conditions as you cannot control continued annual sealing with appropriate products.

My suggestion is to make one prototype dish by sandcasting then use that to make a permanant reusable mold.

these are just my immediate thoughts... I'll probably add more later.


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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

Sunshine, that is a helpful link...thank you very much for posting it.

Slowmedown, Is the mortar mix you're recommending "thinset"? I've been reading everywhere that's what is supposed to be used for birdbaths.

nicethyme, As for the sealant, what is the most recommended by the people around here that do birdbaths? You're certainly right that I wouldn't want to do anything to harm the birds. As for the tesserae, so far what I've mostly been planning to use is stained glass and the artists at the wonderful place I bought it from use it for outdoor things all the time with no problem. What kind of tesserae would not be good for outdoors?


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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

Yes, ARK - fortified thinset.


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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

Hey guys-ran across this link also. About casting the birdbath stand. Let us know what you decide and show pics! We love pics!

Here is a link that might be useful: Birdbath casting


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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

Can't help getting back to this. If you've had time to check out Riana's site I posted on the other thread, and remember NICETHYME'S large mushroom and CALAMITY's dragonfly, and boob flower, you'll know that w/the wire mesh and the mortar mix recipe you mentioned, you can make anything your heart desires. All you do is sculpt your object w/the wire mesh (two layers), "sew" the shaping darts together w/non rust wire, and cover it w/the mortar mix. The mortar goes between the layers of mesh, then smoothe the outside w/a slurry of the mix. Sounds complicated but it's easy. There you w/have a birdbath from scratch the size/shape you want. I've searched for the instructions I posted from the Riana workshop but can't find them. Perhaps someone else can post them - NT can tell you how she made her mushroom.


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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

Was this the one slow?

Here is a link that might be useful: Riana Workshop


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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

Checking in one last time before I head out today to hang the shrine I made for DD and re-decorate the room where it w/hang. No, LIL - I looked for the recipe I brought back from the workshop. In fact, I think that was the title - "The Recipe", but I've searched and can't find it. It was around page 25 ----- We got back on April 7. Don't have time to search further - gotta run - outta town all day. Thanks for trying, LIL.


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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

Here it is

Here is a link that might be useful: Riana recipe


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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

I've been at work , so not able to respond to this thread. I've been doing concrete and mosaic projects for close to ten years now. The history stones birdbath mold is a well built sturdy one. It would be a good choice for a beginner. The basin however has got a raised ring of leaves going around the middle so it would be a challenge to mosaic. Something smoother would be better. If you look on ebay you'll find a lot of choices. Sand casting is a moldless fairly easy way to do what ever shape you like. By covering your sand cast shape with a thin layer of plastic you'll get a smoother form to mosaic onto.If you are gong to make these for your self then a thin set, or standard mortar mix will be a good way to go. If you were to sell these then you would want to make them as cost effectively as possible to recoup as large a profit as possible. I have several mosaic birdbaths I've made for myself. The amount of time involved making these will make it hard for this to be profitable. The cost of the cement if you made it by scratch would be maybe 5-10.00 per birdbath. the mortar and mosaic materials, grout and sealer will all vary depending on the mosaic choices you use. The time to do this is another thing though. I've sold lots of different creations but it just doesn't make sense for you to spend your time doing it unless you get a good return. If you can, make a couple for your self then monitor your costs and the number of hours spent. I would only make more on a consignment basis. I regularily have people wanting to buy my stuff but when I tell them what I would charge they back off. In regards to the Rianna method, this will give you the freedom of making any shape you like. Again though, it is not a fast way of making things and wether you'd make enough is doubtful. Rianna says she certainly isn't making tons, it's a labor of love sometimes. I'm making a 4 foot girl using this method. I'll use 4 rolls of mesh at 18.00 per roll by the time I am done. I just have the head and a hand left to do in the mesh and it's taken me maybe a dozen hours so it'll likely be 15 when I'm done. Then the cementing, mosaicing grouting and sealing. This project will cost me 100.00-125.00 I think by the time I'm done. Maybe 40 hours involved. I'll enjoy having my sculpture in my garden . I'm not trying to discourage you but the profit potential in this is not high. Make some gorgeous creations and just enjoy them for your own use is what I'd recommend.
Cindy


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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

Aquamix is an excellent product, by far one of the preferred sealers, BUT....it will leave a haze on your stones and you would need to purchase another product to clean off the residue, and to me that is just more unnecessary work. I use Tile Lab and while it is less expensive, it is just like regular water on the tiles, and all I do is wipe each one with a clean cloth, whereas with Aquamix, you either use rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball, or professional mix to remove the haze. I hate the additional work, so I personally stick with Tile Lab, which btw seals so well that you can see the droplets of water on the sealed surface better than with the other product, IMO.

Now on your finished product, birdbaths need cleaning at least 2-3 times per week, or they get build up and if left alone, you will never get it looking like it did in the beginning. Worse even, if you chose to mosaic in glass only, because it will become oxidized in no time, if not scrubbed down frequently. I ruined my first glass mosaic bird bath, and the only colors I can see are the blue tiles. The rest are so badly ruined from not cleaning it, that I no longer know what color they were. It was a lesson for me!!!


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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

Mdunkin, try putting a weak bleach solution in your birdbaths and soak them over night or for a day or so, amazing how sparkly clean they get from that. I also use the tile lab. I reseal at the beginning of each year. If they look a little grungy the bleach soak works wonders.
Cindy


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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

Thank you all for the responses to this! We did decide to go with the History Stones mold for the column but I can't find a basin that I like online (as I said before I just want a simple one so that it's easier to mosaic) so I think we're going to use a large plant saucer that I found at HD for the basin.

The big thing we still have questions about is the mix...am I supposed to be using the basic 1-2-3 (portland, sand & gravel) mix? If so, what kind of gravel is that supposed to be and what size bag should I be looking for? (The only gravel we found at HD was a pea gravel and was not a very large bag...)
The birdbaths we've most admired have a smooth finish. Is that possible with the 1-2-3 mix? If not, what mix do we use to get a smoother surface?

Thank you,
Amy & Steve


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RE: Birdbath: Concrete Casting & Mosaicing

Amy, for recipes and lots of info on concrete objects, you might want to check out Sherri Warner Hunter's books. I think you will find a lot of answers to your questions there.
I've made a few concrete birdbaths and have never sealed them. I agree with Klinger's suggestions that at times I put a small amount of bleach to clean mine, then rinse it thoroughly. I do seal my terra cotta birdbaths with H&C concrete sealer. Never noticed it caused a problem to any living creatures, but mine is on the porch so rarely do any birds get in it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sherri Warner Hunter


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