Hello! We recently had a new addition to the family. A cheeky little fluffy puppy named Archie. Just before he came I had a pang of guilt that I hadn’t yet made memorial stones for my two previous fur babies who have since passed on. So in their honour, I purchased a bag of mortar mix and completed the task.
You will need:
Cement additive/ fortifier (optional- but gives your finished piece extra strength)
Chicken wire (use a small gauge- not the big size)
Acrylic paint in black and white
Tools & other useful items:
Pliers, metal spatula, rubber gloves, various clay tools or skewer, stamps, paintbrush, rags, plastic bags.
To start with draw on a piece of paper how big you want your stone to be. Scrunch up some newspaper and wrap it in masking tape. Make the scrunched newspaper shape about two thirds the size you want your final stone, as adding wire and cement layers will add extra bulk.
Cut some lengths of chicken wire and start wrapping around your newspaper shape. Cover the shape with approximately 3 layers of chicken wire. Use pliers to twist ends together and inwards so there are no spikes sticking out.
Take your mortar mix and mix some up adding some cement fortifier as per instructions. I guess how much cement I’m going to use, trying not to make too much as I can always make more. Make your mix on the drier side rather than making it too wet. You will get better detail when it comes to making the marks, and a stronger mix.
Working on a plastic work surface start pressing your cement mix into the chicken wire. You need to do this all over the stone shape, including underneath.
Keep adding cement until all of the wire is covered. My stones ended up having a flat base, and I just smoothed the cement all around the bottom edge for a neat appearance. On the top of the stones you need a fairly thick layer of cement, so that you can stamp & draw some elements in without hitting the chicken wire underneath.
When this is all done make the whole stone nice and smooth using your gloved hand or a metal spatula. It’s quite fun- similar to icing a cake.
Use a clay tool to write words by pressing into the cement rather than ‘drawing’, and use stamps with bold shapes to press into the surface. Fine detailed stamps will not show up so well. I made some stamps out of polymer clay specifically for this project.
Once you are happy with your creation, leave to set under plastic. Wrap the plastic around the stone loosely, as you do not want the plastic to disturb the surface of the stone.
Once the cement has set (keep checking at half hour intervals. It might take 1-3 hours and it still should be wet), come back and wrap wet rags around the stone, then wrap in plastic and leave to cure for 3- 7 days. Curing cement like this gives it extra strength.
Once the stone has had decent time to cure let it dry, and mix some black acrylic paint with equal parts matte medium and enough water to make a runny mix. Working quickly, paint the black paint mix into the stamped and written crevices, and wipe the excess away using a damp rag. As I used a cement fortifier, my cement wasn’t super porous, so this stopped a lot of paint seeping in where I didn’t want it too. If you didn’t use fortifier, wetting the stone first might help.
If you want extra depth and contrast to your stone, dry brush some white acrylic paint over the top to highlight. You do this by getting paint on your brush (not diluted) then brush most of it off on some paper so that when you paint your stone only minimal paint is being transferred.
Place your stone in the garden and you can remember those furry friends every time you wander in the backyard.
Yes, we named our previous dogs after Futurama characters, we were young and in our 20’s!
You can find more of Jules here: