These vases are made by covering inexpensive glass vases and glass bottles from the recycle bin with anchoring cement. They are surprisingly easy and fun to make.
I happened on the idea of using anchoring cement to cover objects such as the glass vases when I was making my DIY Cement Replacement Sofa Legs for IKEA and Other Brands. When making these legs, I mixed up very thick batches of cement. I noticed that the wet cement could be hand formed for a short period of time because it got thick and pliable, kind of the consistency of silly putty, and then it hardened quickly. It was only in that pliable form for a few minutes. So when I was making the sofa legs, I got in the habit of making little free-form cement bowls from the left-over cement mix. Then I began to think about all the things around the house I could cover with cement, and I decided to try cement-covered glass vases and bottles (before moving on to the furniture 😀 ).
- glass vase or bottle
- measuring cups (1/4 cup and 1 cup)
- dust mask
- protective gloves (tight-fitting)
- mixing bowl
- Quikcrete anchoring cement, Rapid Set Cement All, or similar
- sandpaper (optional)
I used three different variations in the technique to make my cement bottles, and the variations are based on how much water I used in the cement batch. I’ll start with the vases made with thickest batch and show the process steps in detail. Later, I’ll describe how I made the other cement vases following the same general procedure, with, well, a few variations.
Choose Your Vases/Bottles
I found the glass bottle for the round flat vase (photo above) at Hobby Lobby. It was on sale for about $3. The other vase started as an empty wine bottle. Good places to find free or inexpensive glass vases and bottles are at thrift stores, the recycle bin, IKEA, and dollar stores. Hobby Lobby and Michaels have good sales on glassware from time-to-time, or you can use the daily one-item coupon they offer for a good price overall. Of course you can look around your house–you might find have a vase or bottle that you want to upcycle.
A Little Information About Cement
As a bit of a side note, cement is the ingredient in concrete that binds the sand and/or gravel together. Cement is finer than concrete, and the wet mix goes through a phase during curing when it has a plastic moldable consistency. Concrete does not go through the plastic phase in the same way. I used Quikcrete anchoring cement from Home Depot. There are many types of cements available, for instance one type is designed for fixing surface cracks in concrete. I haven’t used any of these and don’t know if they would work for this project, although eventually I’ll use some and get back to you. In the meantime, if you use one of these other types of cement, please let me know how it worked for you. Also, keep in mind that anchoring cement used in this way, basically as a skim coat over glass, is for decoration only.
Mix the Anchoring Cement
As I mentioned, the directions in this section are for a very thick cement mix. I’ll describe the variations later, but the general procedure is described here.
Wear a dust mask and protective gloves when working with cement. You will want rather tight-fitting gloves for this project. I put on three sets of food-service style gloves one over the other to start. I found that as I was working the cement, the gloves would get heavy and less manageable. Wearing multiple sets, I could quickly take off the outer set and work better with a fresh set.
For each of these vases I started with one cup of dry anchoring cement and 1/4 cup water. Anchoring cement sets up in about 5 minutes, so don’t add the water until you have everything ready to go.
After you add the water to the cement, mix it for about a minute. My mix at this point usually had the consistency of dry cookie dough with lumps in it.
At this point, adjust the batch by adding a little bit of water, starting with about a tablespoon. Mix it thoroughly until it is the consistency of silly putty or peanut butter. You want to be able to pick up the cement batch in one piece and have it stay together for a bit of time before it oozes away. If it is too thin after adjusting with water, go ahead and add more dry anchoring cement and mix it in thoroughly. This adjusting process should take no more than about a minute.
Now the fun begins. Break off a portion of the cement, put it on your glass vase, and start spreading it out. It won’t stay in place at this point, but that’s okay. Keep adding more concrete and spreading it out until the vase is covered. It is easier said than done! Some of the cement will ooze off (work over a bowl), and it won’t stay in place. Keep turning the vase to work against gravity pulling the cement off. Continue flattening the cement out, putting fallen cement back on, turning, and spreading. It will seem like a complete failure until right before the cement sets up (which is about 5 minutes after you started mixing).
As it sets up (hardens), the cement will stay on the vase, and your efforts are directed to smoothing out the cement. You might have cement on the base of the vase, and you can flatten that out by removing the cement with a finger.
Toward the end of the process when the cement is setting up, I start holding the vase at the neck and get the rest of the vase smoothed out. As the cement hardens a little more, you can pour a bit of water on the vase and rub it with your hands to smooth the surface.
Finally I fix the neck by adding a bit of water to left-over cement in the mixing bowl and spreading it over the neck area.
Later if you see a problem area, you can remove cement with sandpaper or add cement by mixing up a small batch for repair.
For this variation, I made the mix thinner by adding more water to the anchoring cement. The consistency of the mix was like a runny pudding. The vase, from the Dollar Tree store, had nice ridges, and I wanted the ridges to be visible under the cement.
I first put about 1/4 cup of the mix inside the vase, covered the mouth with one hand and shook the vase to coat the inside. Then, I put some mix on the outside of the vase and spread spread it by twisting the vase at the neck and running my fingers along the ridges of the glass vase. After I was happy with the coverage, I fixed the cement in the neck area. I like to coat the inside of this style of vase because the mix is thinner and does not cover as well, and by coating the inside places that might have been missed on the outside are not visible.
I was thinking about lemon meringue when I did this style of cement vase. I made a fairly thick mix, plopped it on the vase and used my finger to pull the mix out to form the spikey bits. I bought the vase at a thrift store, but I think it was originally from IKEA. You need to be very careful with this vase even after it is fully cured because it is easy to knock the spikes off.
I hope this post inspires you to make your own hand-formed cement-covered glass vases. This is a project that you can really have fun with and perhaps come up with new techniques to get different looks. I’d love to see what you’ve done so don’t be shy about e-mailing me photos!
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