How to make garden stepping stones using colorful sea glass. This project requires only a few inexpensive materials including glass pieces. Full video at the end.
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 diy projects too.
Collecting Sea Glass
Following up on my week in Venice, I had an old friend visit me here on the Isle of Man. I hadn’t seen her in over a year and we spent the time listening to music from our teenage years and catching up on our lives.
Though the weather wasn’t that great we also spent some time camping on the beach and scouring it for sea glass. There’s something so fun about hunting for colorful shards of glass. Something that satisfies the hunter-gatherer instinct in you.
In an hour of hunting for our sea jewels we collected quite a pile of colored glass, bits of pottery, and small shells and rocks. Now to make something beautiful and useful for the garden.
First off you’ll need a few materials
This project will take you about two days to complete (most of that time is letting the stone dry) and costs about $25-30. That cost includes enough material to make a five or more stepping stones though.
- 1. An old pan or plastic tub to use as a mold
- 2. Cement and coarse Aggregate (basically a mixture of sand and gravel) Or get both of these together pre-mixed Quikrete Concrete Mix Bag 10 Lbs
- 3. Gold Spray paint, Flat/matte White spray paint and Clear Glossy spray paint
- 4. Sea glass and any other hard stones, shells, pottery, or objects you’d like to embed into your stepping stone.
- 5. A square of chicken wire or other metal fencing that will fit inside your mold
Step 1: Spray Paint
Using your matte white spray paint, paint one side of the beach glass you want to embed in your stone – the side that you want to be pushed into the concrete. If you don’t paint one side then the dark color of the concrete will make your glass look dark and murky since the grey color will come through the glass.
Step 2: Cement
Mix one part cement with 3.5 parts aggregate or use the material from the pre-mixed bag I have listed above. I used an large yogurt container for measurement but the exact amounts will depend on the size of your own mold. Next, add enough water to make it wet but not soupy. If it’s too wet then the decorations will sink.
Step 3: Filling the Mold
Fill your mold half-way with your wet concrete mix then place the square of wire on top. Fill the rest of the mold with concrete and completely cover the wire. This extra addition to the inside of your stone will give it more stability and help ensure it doesn’t split in the future.
Step 4: Optional Gold Finish
Spray the surface of the concrete with gold. It will look garish at first but the gold will add some beach-sand like shine to the dull concrete when you’re finished. (Update: the gold finish eventually wears off)
Step 5: Adding the Sea Glass
Create your 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.
Step 6: Taking the stone out of the mold
When you’re finished, allow the stone to set for at least a day though I gave mine two days before I popped it out of the mold. To get the stone out, turn your mold over something soft (like grass) and shake it out – it should pop out easily. If you’re having trouble getting it out, leave the stone 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 at the end covers how to put them back into place.
Step 7: 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.
Step 8: Siting your Stone
Dig a depression in the area you wish your stone to be placed and set it inside. Doesn’t it look beautiful? I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and if you’d like to see more of my crafty ideas please browse through my projects here.