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How to make garden stepping stones using colorful sea glass, marbles, or other colored glass pieces. It’s incredibly beautiful, especially when wet with rain. This project requires only a few inexpensive materials and creates colorful and practical walkways outdoors.
Sea glass can have romantic origins — it could come from old Victorian bottles or broken glass from a shipwreck. Most of the time, it comes from modern-day bottles. Most of the rubbish that ends up in the sea doesn’t have a happy ending, but glass is a different story. The motion of the waves and the grinding from stones and sand polishes each shard into a soft and jewel-like piece. You can display it in jars or cases, but it’s fun to use in creative projects, too. One of the best garden projects I’ve ever made is a sea glass stepping stone, and I’d like to show you how to make one for yourself.
You can easily make sea glass stepping stones with a few materials, including cement, recycled mold, and beautiful sea glass. The resulting piece is garden art on a whole other level. Each softly colored piece of glass shines brightly in the light as if it were still wet from the sea. It’s practical, too, since you can use it to access the back of a border without getting your shoes dirty or to create a path through the lawn. If you don’t have access to sea glass, you can purchase it or use other materials like broken crockery, shells, stones, and colored glass like marbles and aquarium glass.
Collecting Sea Glass
Sea glass is great fun to look for and collect! All it is is glass bottles and jars that have been tossed in the sea or another waterway and broken. The sharp edges and glossy finish are then softened by the action of waves, water, sand, and other stones. Sometimes, being in the elements changes the color of the glass, too. You tend to find seaglass on beaches near towns and cities, especially in places where industry was once prevalent. If you don’t live near a place where you can forage for sea glass, then I recommend using marbles, aquarium glass, or other colorful glass pieces to make a sea glass stepping stone.
Seaglass Stepping Stone Materials
Once you have the colored glass pieces sourced, then order the rest of the materials you’ll need and get to work. This project will take you about two days to complete and doesn’t cost very much. Cement and sand are relatively cheap, and you can recycle an old pan or plant pot saucer for the mold. When you’re working with cement, always wear gloves and work in an airy outdoor place.
- An old pan or plastic tub to use as a mold. Plastic plant pot saucers are perfect.
- Cement and builders sand, or get a pre-mixed bag of Quikrete.
- Matte white spray paint for outdoor use
- Clear glossy spray paint suitable for outdoor use
- Sea glass and any other stones, shells, pottery, or objects you’d like to embed into your stepping stone. This aquarium glass looks like sea glass.
- Optional: a square of wire mesh that will fit inside the mold. It’s only necessary for big stepping stones.
Paint The Sea Glass
Using the matte white spray paint, paint one side of the beach glass you want to embed in your stone. This is the side that you want to be pushed into the concrete. If you don’t paint one side, the dark color of the concrete will make your glass look dark and murky since the grey color will come through the glass. The white paint will instead make the color of the glass bright, colorful, and beautiful!
Mix the Cement
For this step, you’ll need to be wearing gloves and have a bucket and a stirring implement. A simple stick will do the trick! Mix one part cement with four parts builders’ sand, or use this pre-mixed bag.
For one stepping stone sized about 9.5″ in diameter, mix 1.5 cups of cement with 6.5 cups of sand. Larger or smaller molds will need more or less mix, though. I recommend filling the container with water first and measuring how many cups it can hold. Then, work out your amounts using the 1:4 ratio. Next, add enough water to make it wet but not soupy. If it’s too wet, then the decorations will sink.
Fill the Mold
Fill the mold with the wet concrete mix. It may look lumpy, but it will even out if you jiggle the container a little. Though you can use a metal pan like I’m using, I recommend plastic plant pot saucers. They can be much easier to get the stepping stone out of later. The next step and photo below are optional and only if the ‘mold’ you’re using is more than twelve inches in diameter.
Adding Strength to Wider Stepping Stones
If the stepping stone is more than about 12″ in diameter, fill the mold only halfway at first. Next, place a square of wire on top. The mesh helps keep the stepping stone from breaking since it adds inner structure. It’s only really necessary for larger stepping stones, though. Fill the rest of the mold with the concrete mix and completely cover the wire.
Decorate with Seaglass
After all the concrete is out of your mixing container, wipe it out with paper towels and give it a good rinse. Do this before it hardens, and the bucket will clean up easily. Next, create the sea glass design by pressing pieces into the wet cement. Push them in firmly, or they may come off eventually. If there’s any water puddling on the top after you’re finished, soak it up gently with toilet paper or a soft rag. Make sure to wear rubber gloves whenever you touch the wet cement.
Take the Stepping Stone out of the Mold
When you’re finished with the design, allow the stone to set for at least two days before you take it out of the mold. Waiting a week might be even safer, especially if the cement mix seemed a little too wet. When it’s ready, the stepping stone should be completely dry, and it might be pulling away from the sides of the mold. To get the stone out, turn your mold over something soft (like grass or a towel) and shake it out gently.
Plastic molds tend to come off easier than metal, which is why I recommend them. Pans can work just fine, though, too. However, if you’re having trouble getting the sea glass stepping stone out, leave it to dry for a few more days. You can also gently tap the sides to get the stone out, but be aware that some glass pieces may fall out. The video included in this piece covers how to put them back into place.
Spray with Clear Varnish
Clean the glass in the stone off with water and an old toothbrush. When it’s dried, spray the top with clear spray paint to give the pieces that wet look. This last step is really important if you want those pieces of sea glass to really shine! It also helps to give them a top-up spray each year. This varnish step is also optional, but if you don’t spray the sea glass, they will be matte in texture until they’re wet.
Step 8: Siting your Sea Glass Stepping Stone
Once the sea glass stepping stone is dry, find a place to put it in the garden. It could be embedded in the lawn as part of a path or within a border so that you can easily step inside. Dig a depression in the area where you wish your stone to be placed and set it inside. Doesn’t it look beautiful? I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial! Here are more that I think you’ll enjoy:
- Sea Glass Candle Project
- DIY Rain Chain Ideas
- DIY Sea Glass Succulent Terrarium
- 30 Sea Glass Ideas & Projects
- Make a Fossil Imprint Stepping Stone