Being a business owner and college student can be hard, mainly because of having two big payments of college and the business. In order to make the most improvements, I use both old and new skills to make the most out of the money I make. One combination of skills I have used is my artistic ability and tinkering in order to make landscaping decorations. The fountains on the mini golf course were the first experiment I had, and they actually turned out great. If you are interested in how they were made or how you can make something similar, keep reading.
Step 1: Putting it together
When making any of the decorations featured in this tutorial, please remember to be safe. Wear gloves to protect your hands, have control of your utility knife, and get help lifting anything too heavy for you.
The first step is putting together the mold for pouring the concrete. You will need both Styrofoam ball halves, your cut conduit pipe, cooking spray, silicone, bungee cords, and the utility knife.
The first step is placing your two Styrofoam halves together, you may want to use your bungee cord to hold them together. Next, take the end of your conduit, and mark where you need to cut to slide it into the ball. Take note in the picture that the conduit slides through where the two halves meet, this will make it easier to pull apart later. Cut the hole, being aware to keep it smaller rather than bigger so your conduit is tight later on.
Once your hole is cut, slide the conduit into the hole, making sure it nice and tight and will not move around. Only cut a hole for one side, and make sure the pipe is pushed against the opposing wall. Next, cut a hole at the top of the ball, this is where the pop bottle is inserted in the picture. Keep in mind the bigger you cut this hole the less round your ball will be, so make it big enough to fit the concrete, but not big enough to leave a giant knob.
Finally, before using silicone to seal, take the mold apart and spray cooking spray inside. This prevents the concrete from being stuck to the ball, and I have made this mistake. After spraying, put the mold back together, and tighten the bungee cords into place.
Now, take your silicone and place it anywhere the concrete could leak from, so the seam where the halves meet and where the Styrofoam meets the conduit. In the picture above I used packing tape, which did not work well. Let the silicone dry before moving the the next step. *You do not need a two litter bottle, this was a failing part of the project.
Step 2: Pouring the Concrete
Once you have made it past step one, you are onto an easier path, and now you have a mold you can use to make multiple fountain covers.
Now, you want to get prepared to mix and pour your concrete. You will need your gloves, mixing bin, trowel, mold, and access to water. In the video to the left, you will see I added some concrete into the bin and use the hose to add water. Keep the concrete near in case you use too much water. Use the trowel to push the mix around, insuring everything is mixed until it has a mud like consistency. To get the mix into the mold, you can use your trowel to scoop and drop, or your hands. Make sure to hit your mold occasional to prevent any air bubbles from creating in the mold. After you are finished filling the mold, place it somewhere to dry where water cannot get into the mold, with the hole facing up. Check the cure time to insure you do not remove the mold to early.
Step 3: Removing the Mold and Painting
Once you believe your concrete to be dry remove the side of the mold that is facing upwards. If your concrete looks like the picture below, it is not set completely. You can leave the top off, if it is in a clean space, or gently slide it back over. If you concrete is cured, feel free to remove the bottom and set it up so the weight is on the conduit. I chose to paint it, although I do not believe it is a mandatory option. I used white leak seal paint by Rustoleum in order to give an extra layer of protection from the water and help the color of the gems show stronger. Remember not to lay it on too thick, or the paint will be rubbery and make it hard to adhere the gems.
Step 4: Adhering the Gems
To adhere the gems, you will need your caulking gun, 100% silicone caulking, and your gems. The trick to making sure your gems stay put is placing the fountain on an object that it cannot roll around on, but will also not scratch the gems. I use the tubing from an old wheelbarrow tire.
Start on the side facing up, so the caulking can start setting before you rotate the ball. I find it easiest to start near the top opening, where the water will come out, to make sure I will not need to cut any gems to fit. Work your way towards the bottom, this way if the spacing is off, no one will see it. Anything adhered to the equator of the ball or lower will start sliding or falling off, so make sure to be patient with your adhesive before shifting sides.
Step 5: Flex Seal
Once you are positive your gems are strongly adhered, it is time to move onto the final step. This step may or may not be mandatory for you depending on what you are doing. If you plan to place these in a garden or a gentle fountain, than you may not need the Flex Seal. I have found that not adding flex seal can make the gems fall off easier, but the water is hitting them hard since the fountains shoot so high. The Flex Seal will stop the water from slipping into any openings which could cause the gems to fall off, mold to build, etc. The way I do this is simple, poor the Flex Seal over the top and use an old or cheap brush to working it around the ball. Wait a few minutes and brush again, since the product may start forming drips. If for some reason you end up with solid drips, you can pull or cut them off.
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