Stepping stone too thin?

Last year we had a honey bee hive relocated to our back yard.  We put it at the edge of the woods and behind the shed where they would get less noise and not direct sunlight so as to not get too hot in the summer.  We also put up a small fence so that our big dog would not be too curious and upset them.  We have a rocky pathway from the veggie beds to behind the shed that leads to the picnic table where the bee box lives.  What I did not realize is how many weeds would grow up between those rocks.  I am not a huge fan of weeding around a bunch of buzzing bees. The husband doesn’t like to weed at all. Well the queen swarmed and left half the hive behind without any queen, so what remained died.  Alas we will try again this upcoming spring. But until then I get to kick butt on trying to make a better pathway, so no weeding will need to be done around the hive.

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I first started making concrete stepping stones in order to make a pathway down to the creek.  They are adorable and work okay, but I think we need much larger, sturdier steps for getting down to the creek, and I would not mind a hand rail either, it is so steep. I still have around 30 stepping stones that I made earlier this summer, most of which are still in the shed continuing to cure. I have been bringing them out one at a time to paint and waterproof, and set aside for placement on the First of March.  The husband and I decided that we can use the stepping stones in among the rocky/pebble pathway back to the bees. Much better pathway with less weeds and when we start laying them down we can add a barrier under where the rocks are so that no more weeds come through.

I discovered earlier this summer that my first three stepping stones were good and sturdy, being and inch thick each. I thought well maybe I can make them thinner and they will be much more cost effective for us.  Well when I made this paver we didn’t know it was too thin.

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When placed in the pathway down to the creek I was able to walk carefully on it just fine.  But I am small and did not think how it would hold up to a bunch of guys going down to the creek to fish. Well the step cracked in half, and then in half again.  Live and Learn!

So the rest of my stepping stone are going to be too thin no matter where I put them.  This means I need to thicken them up.

But How?

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Well take this step that I just finished painting the top. I just flipped it over. I mixed up concrete pretty thick and chunky ( be careful not to make it too runny I didn’t want it running down overy the counter everywhere) just a small amount at a time so that I wouldn’t have too much.

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I mix small amounts in a disposable cup with a disposable knife.  Then I used the knife and spread the concrete on the bottom side of the step like I was icing a cake.

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This before photo shows it was kinda thin and it also shows where the bottom of the cardboard box came together. The other step first cracked right along this line perfectly.

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This after shot shows the old half of the step with its new sturdy backer. It really is as easy as helping it slide out of the mixing cup and spreading it out evenly with the knife, its easier than cold butter on fresh bread.

I am letting it harden up for 24 hours in the garage, and then bring it inside to the painting table to harden completely for 2 days, then it will be put in storage to cure for 30 days then I can waterproof front and back and then back into storage till spring!

As you can see- the step doubled up in thickness quickly and easily.

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Bonus!!! Below are a few of my other stepping stones that are in process!

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Weekend Warrior!

Last weekend in August! Got to make the most of it!

Last Weekend in August-Work hard, play hard, sleep hard too.  Had so many gardening tasks planned for this weekend but only got a few done- due to my finger cutting episode. That is okay, we worked on a million other things this weekend. Plus we spent a little sweetheart time date night out to a movie.

Yesterday bright and early I started cleaning. Bathrooms, floors, laundry and ceiling fans. Then we did some gardening where my finger got cut, but it is healing great.  I soak it in warm soapy water every morning and then wear a bandage with triple antibiotic ointment, changing the bandage 4 times a day and letting the skin dry out a bit in between.  I wait until my skin is not so wrinkly from being wrapped up with moisture before I wrap it up again. When we go out I put a small finger splint we have on hand over my finger for extra protection. it is still just slightly sensitive.

While soaking my fingers in soapy water I set up a stepping stone to start painting. Looking good.

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I got around to water proofing my concrete leafs as well as a rock I painted months ago. The tops of these are done. I will get the bottom s of them tomorrow.

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I have the border on the baby boy blanket completed and am working on tying in the ends, so almost complete blanket! In plenty of time before my friends baby boy is here.

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I have successfully designed, printed, addressed and yes put in the mail box. Invitations to a great Aunt”s 90th birthday party.

The husband and I both sanded for an hour each on my China cabinet makeover.  The husband used the Dremel on the top edges where its a bit fancy and too tricky and small for the Black and Decker Mouse hand sander that I prefer to use.  It doesn’t look much different then my last update on my china cabinet makeover but it is coming along.  I did some sanding on the bottom of the shelves and I used the 220 grit on the one outside and my goodness that is so smooth.

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We went material shopping for my Halloween costume updates are in my previous post Hela of a costume. Made my cutie pie niece a card for her birthday. 8 is great! Also in the mail.

We also finally started working on our new bar.  We left the old bar behind when we sold the old house, it really was beautiful and it went great with the dining room.  It was our first bar building experience as a couple and we have a few things we are very excited about doing differently.  We got some stain, and some frame! 2x3x8 boards to start building the frame.

Busy! To bed at midnight and Up at 5am. Do it all over again tomorrow.

Garden Stepping Stones

5747FD88-7FB8-4288-9B8A-DDCFD2ED130D67B95B52-FE7D-4F69-9D71-385708B23572 In the first photo you can see the first leaf casting that I attempted. I used the back side of a hosta leaf the veins on the back sides of leaves are usually thicker which gives good grooves or definition to the concrete. Advised cure time of concrete depending on the type of concrete differs. My bag stated at least 30 days before waterproofing or staining. So my hosta leaf sat in the shed for 30 days to cure. It has been painted in the second photo. The waterproof label states that the waterproof material added to the concrete should be allowed to cure for 48 hours before submitting to natural weather. Tonight I will waterproof the back and reveal my banana leaf steps.

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This is the concrete waterproofing product that I am using.  About a week ago I water proofed the top of the painted concrete leaf, but I did not photograph the process, I was wearing gloves and had never done it before and was not sure how it was going to turn out.  Today I finally carved out 10 minutes of my evening and waterproofed the back of the leaf, and got photos of the process.

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I shook the gallon container a few times to make sure its mixed well and to make sure there was still liquid in the container.  I poured it directly onto the leaf back, the liquid is very thin and has a milky look to it.  It soaks into the concrete quickly, it is not very easy to spread.  I ended up pouring the liquid on in several different places on the leaf back to make sure I got all the back and sides completely covered. Within minutes the leaf back looked exactly as before. But suggested cure time for waterproofing with this product is 48 hours.  So once again, we play the waiting game.

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This photo was taken about 3 minutes after I had applied the water proofing material to the entire back side of the hosta concrete leaf.

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Stepping stone was put in the ground this weekend! So cute! So little!

My husband and I finished painting our grape leaves tonight.

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My husbands’ leaf is on the left and mine is on the right.  We figured out this evening that all of the super cool shiney leaf castings we have seen have probably been using metallic paints. Which is what I have used this evening.

 

Banana Leaf stepping stones.

 

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Big storm today took our Banana tree down to the ground. I have been working on making stepping stones to make a more permanent pathway through the woods, down the very steep hill to the beautiful creek. I have been putting off using the banana leaves because they are so big and a bit intimidating. But today’s storm said to me “Buckle up buttercup!!” It is a good thing I stopped at the local home improvement store to pick up a second bag of concrete made by Quikrete.  It took more than one 60 pound bag. I wasn’t able to use all of the leaves because my two tables are smaller than I remember sometimes. 890D92EF-563B-460B-B82A-B578BA2BFC0C

I noticed I had a few small open spaces so I popped into the yard and cut off 3 nice hosta leaves to make the most of the table space.  It is a bit of back breaking work and slightly time consuming. I am very lucky and my husband helps me out and it makes the process go so much quicker. With help about 2 hours later, set up and clean up included. C8F52DB4-41CF-4882-8D5A-701D470A6C65.jpeg

And the waiting for the concrete to harden begins. These leaves are pretty large so I plan on waiting 2 days instead of 1 before I flip them over and pull off the leaves.  I made several other stepping stones about a month ago. 30 days for proper cure time of concrete is advised before painting or waterproofing.

 

UPDATE UPDATE!!

I let the concrete dry for two days! Big leaf castings, which I will use as stepping stones are below. I am so happy with how well they turned out. Details of some things I learned this  time are below.

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I was afraid that if I added too much water the concrete would just run everywhere, off the leaf, off the table, onto the garage floor. Big mess!! (Storms like crazy-working indoors), but what I have noticed is the concrete mix needs to be just slightly runny because when its drier it tends to be chunkier or a bit rocky looking. Which leads to air bubbles that stay in the castings. When I was doing stepping stones in boxes I was able to gently jostle the boxes to work out the air bubbles. You can see where the casting looks rockier with permanent air bubbles in the close up photo below. Then following is a close up photo of the same leaf but you can see how much smoother and better defined details are presented with just a bit more water in the concrete mix. D720255D-1C88-4CA5-86A4-A0D3801685D6AF3FC2B5-22AB-44C2-857C-93BCAB86E3C4