How to Turn a Photo into a “Vintage” Portrait Painting

Turn a Photo into a Painting

I’ve been slightly obsessed with vintage portrait paintings for a while now.

Whether a solo artwork resting casually atop a hutch or a striking gallery which consumes an entire wall, they seem to impart such a lovely sense of depth, interest and character.

Vintage Portrait Painting

Source

Portrait Gallery

Source

Portrait in Living Room

Source

Lauren Liess Portrait Gallery

Source

Vintage Portrait

Source

Gallery of Portraits

Source

Portrait

Source

Vintage Gallery

Source

Oil Painting in the Kitchen

Source

Bathroom with Portrait

Source

Lauren Liess Kitchen

Source

Bathroom with Portrait

Source

Vintage Portrait Collection

Source

For some reason I’m particularly drawn to the use of portraits in bathrooms and kitchens. They just seem to add a slightly quirky and unexpected touch.

So when my mum recently decided it was time to update her main bathroom I suggested including a vintage portrait.

“What, like just of some random person?”, she exclaimed.

Seems the idea of having a stranger adorn her wall was a little weird for her.

Fair enough I guess.

Still, I was fixed on the idea so it was time to get creative!

I contemplated painting a family member’s portrait myself, then realised this was actually the perfect excuse to play around with a digital painting program. Not only would it be quicker and easier, it’s a great little project to share here because anyone can give it a go.

Last year I wrote a comprehensive post about converting photographs into paintings using clever software, though I never actually produced a print. This was going to be fun!

I started looking through our old family photos for something suitable. Unfortunately however, I couldn’t find anything quite right.

We were going to have to start from scratch.

So, mum dressed-up in a demure, mid-century kinda way, and posed while I took a few quick snaps.

How to Turn a Photo into a Painting

This is the pic we chose (which I’m sure mum is rapt to be sharing with the world!).
As you can see, it’s far from a spectacular photo though that’s one of the great things about this project – the pic doesn’t need to be great.
Whilst I wasn’t too concerned with the overall quality, I did pay some attention to lighting and composition.

To convert this photo into a painting I used Topaz Impression, which I purchased around a year ago, however there are heaps of different programs you can use (check out my previous post for further info and a collection of software options, or find a list of programs at the end of this post).

There’s really no set formula for how you go about the conversion. It’s just a matter of playing around with all the options in your chosen program.

Photo to Painting

I wanted a dark and moody feel so applied a suitable filter then experimented with some of the fine-tuning parameters to customise the effect.

Once I was happy, I saved the image then transferred it into Photoshop (you can use any image editor – GIMP is a great free option) to make a few final changes, including adjusting the brightness and contrast, altering the hue of mum’s cardigan and sizing the image perfectly for print.

Painting from a Photo

Here are a few close-ups to give a better indication of the detail.

Digital Painting from a Photograph

How to Convert a Photo to a Painting

It’s so cool! Remember, although I did have to play around for a while with all the filters and options, I haven’t used any manual painting techniques – the computer has done it all!

Can you see the canvas texture? It’s one of my favourite elements to include in a digital painting. It just provides such a lovely hint of authenticity.

And here is a cropped version at print size (depending on your monitor or device you may need to zoom in or out).

Photo Converted to Painting

Of course, there’s no denying the beauty and pure loveliness of a real painting though this is a fun cheat anyone can try!

The side-by-side comparisons really showcase the effect.

How to Convert a Photo to a Painting

How to Turn a Photo into a Painting

From the get-go I envisioned this portrait in an ornate gilt frame and was lucky to pick this one up from an antique bazaar for $40 a few weeks ago. I realise $40 isn’t super cheap though these babies are getting hard to find.

Frame Before

Sorry if you like it ‘as is’ however I decided the existing print had to go.

I measured the frame opening and sized my digital image perfectly to fit (as touched on above, I used Photoshop though you can use whatever image editing program you prefer). I then had it printed online through Officeworks (as it was larger than my standard domestic printer could handle).

Note: Refer to my Free Printables series for further information about sizing, editing and printing images.

I could have had it printed on standard document paper for under $2, or on satin poster paper for around $15, though for something a bit different I decided to splash out on canvas for $32. More than anything, I did this out of curiosity as I’d never had anything printed on canvas before. I am happy with it, though am yet to be convinced it was really worth the extra expense, especially as my print already had a digital canvas texture applied.

One bonus is the durability, relevant as this print is being used in a wet room. Another pro was the ease of framing; I simply removed the existing print (complete with its attached panel of masonite), wrapped the new canvas neatly around it then carefully stapled it in place. In my experience, paper prints can be a bit more tricky as they generally need to be adhered with glue which can cause bubbling and creasing.

Anyhoo, here is the finished portrait. My parent’s bathroom isn’t yet complete so for the purpose of these ‘after’ photos I’ve hung and styled it in my bedroom.

Portrait Painting from a Photograph DIY

Painting from a Photo

I love it!

It printed a tad darker than I wanted though I do like the mysterious feel.

Overall, I’m really thrilled with the whole way this project turned out and am loving the possibilities it opens up! Portraits are probably the trickiest subject for photo to painting conversions as most programs will apply their painterly effects universally – so whilst the background might look amazing, facial features can get lost and appear distorted. You can play around with layering different effects and adjusting the opacity in certain sections though this does add another level of difficulty. Landscapes, animals and still life compositions are more forgiving and can look awesome.

Turn a Photo into a Painting

Below is an actual photo I took of the finished print.

Portrait Photo to Painting

I didn’t want to go into too much technical depth with this post as I’m aware everyone is likely to use their own preferred programs, though if you do have any questions about my particular process, or the Topaz Impression software, please feel free to ask away. I love to help and always answer any questions.

Additionally, I’m thinking about possibly offering a service whereby I convert your photos into digital paintings on your behalf (just for those of you who aren’t super keen about purchasing the software and giving it a go yourself). If anyone is interested, please let me know. If there is enough demand, I might just add the service to my little shop.

Signature

Turn a Photo into an Oil Painting

Dotted-Break

DIGITAL PAINTING PROGRAMS

WATERLOGUE ($3.00)
A popular app (Apple devices only) featuring a small selection of luminous watercolour filters.

TOPAZ IMPRESSION ($100)
An intelligent program featuring hundreds of realistic editable filters.

PAPER ARTIST ($4.00)
A fun app with a vast collection of different artistic filters.

COREL PAINTER ($400)
A professional program with a focus on manual digital painting.

COREL PAINTER ESSENTIALS ($40)
A condensed version of Corel Painter.

COREL PAINT IT ($40)
A fun program with several artistic filters and the ability to make some custom changes.

POPSICOLOR ($3.00)
A funky app (Apple devices only) which renders splashy watercolours.

FILTER FORGE ($30 – $300)
A versatile program inclusive of thousands of filters and the ability to create and save your own effects.

DYNAMIC AUTO PAINTER ($100)
A world-class program with numerous detailed filters and the ability to create your own effects.

JIXIPIX ARTISTA SERIES ($35)
A suite of artistic filters with some customisation options.

POSTWORKSHOP ($120)
A comprehensive program featuring hundreds of editable and layerable filters plus the ability to paint manually.

SYNTHETIK STUDIO ARTIST ($300)
An extensive program with hundreds of editable filters and assisted painting capabilities.

SNAP ART ($100)
An effective program featuring a wide selection of artistic style filters with options for customisation.

AKVIS ARTWORK ($70)
A simple program inclusive of several artistic style filters which can be adjusted and combined.

PRICES ARE A GUIDE ONLY

Dotted-Break

SHOW SOME LOVE, SHARE THIS POST
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

A Super Easy Lamp Update

Easy Lamp Makeover using Spraypaint

One of the elements I was struggling to decide on for the living-dining room makeover at my parent’s house was the lamp.

I know it seems like a simple enough item, though everything appropriate I came across was just soooo expensive. I think the main problem was my aversion to anything super trendy. Not that there’s anything wrong with trendy. I was just after something a little bit different for this space.

Sadly though, “different” seems to come with a relatively hefty pricetag.

At one stage I contemplated DIY’ing an earthy branch lamp (even pinched, ah, I mean borrowed, a felled limb from a local reserve) though in the end it didn’t seem quite right.

So, when it became apparent, just a few days ago, that this illusive lamp was actually now the final piece in the “new” room puzzle, it was time to bite the bullet and get decisive already!

I started looking through my stash of collected goodies for a solution and came across this old thrifted lamp…

Lamp Makeover - Before

I picked this baby up for just $5 almost a year ago.
In a retro/mid-century modern interior it would look lovely as is however I bought it because I liked the classic shape and appealing proportions.

Hmmm, this could maybe work. It had the right scale and form. All it needed was a new shade and a fresh coat of paint.

This was one of those super quick and easy makeovers.

I simply gave the lamp a clean then popped a few cotton balls in the globe socket and masked the power prongs (to protect the electrical components from any over-spray) then hit the entire lamp, cord and all, with a few light coats of matte black spray paint.

To finish I added a simple linen shade ($10 from Target).

DIY Lamp Makeover

I know this isn’t the most spectacular makeover, though it was easy, affordable and incredibly transformative.

DIY Spray Painted Lamp

And sometimes quick little projects like this are the most inspiring.

Lamp Makeover

Now, with the inclusion of the “new” lamp the living-dining room makeover is finally complete! I still need to style the space properly though should be able to share the full reveal in the next week or two. Yay!

Signature

You can catch up on all posts about the room makeover here.

Lamp Makeover Before and After

SHOW SOME LOVE, SHARE THIS POST
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

Painting & Stenciling a Floor

How to Stencil a Floor

This project has been on my “to do” list for waaaaay too long.

Over three years ago now we ripped up the terrible old carpet in my parent’s retreat (“retreat” sounds super fancy though it’s really just a modest sitting room adjoining their master bedroom) then pondered what we could do to cheaply and easily jazz-up the ugly sub-floor.

Floor Before

How to Stencil a Floor Before

Sub-floors are commonly plywood though ours was particle board (yellow tongue).
Oh, and please excuse the messy nature of the before pics! I didn’t anticipate I would be sharing them on my blog when I took those photos over three years ago!

I was so excited when my mum actually okayed painting it. Ah, the possibilities!

Long story short, at the time things were busy so we opted for something quick – a plain white base with simple green stripes.

It looked fine, though was never quite right for the space. Sometimes “fine” is perfectly okay, though in this case I felt the need to take it up a notch. Plus, I just wanted to have some creative fun!

So, around a year later I started looking into alternatives, and fell in love with a geometric trellis stencil I found on Etsy. If you follow me closely, you might recognise it from this Ikea curtain hack. Sadly, that particular stencil is no longer available however you can find similar ones if you search for “trellis stencil” or “moroccan stencil”.

Don’t ask me why it then took another two years to actually get around to re-doing the floor. I guess these ideas just need to marinate…for exceptionally long periods…in my case.

Anyhoo, I got there in the end, right? And it looks awesome (if I do say so myself)!

If you’ve ever wanted to paint your floor, here’s the process we used…

Although this time around we weren’t starting from scratch for the purpose of this tutorial I’ll detail everything from the beginning. 
As mentioned above, our floor was particle board. You may need/want to tailor my specified products to suit your particular substrate. 

How to Stencil a Floor - Prep

STEP 1 PREP

Basically, you just need to ensure that your floor is clean, smooth, even and ready to accept paint.

Depending on your substrate and how fussy you want to be, the type and degree of prep may differ. As mentioned earlier, our sub-floor was particle board (yellow tongue). This accepts most regular paints. It has an inherent ripply texture which we were happy to embrace and there are also a few subtle join lines though nothing major enough to warrant patching.  If your floor has large divots, obvious gaps or is just plain uneven, you may want to fill areas first using some purpose caulk.

We simply lightly sanded, vacuumed thoroughly then applied one coat of primer (Dulux 1 Step Acrylic Primer, Sealer & Undercoat) to help block stains, boost coverage and assist the base paint to adhere.

Painting a floor is much like painting a wall. We cut in around the edges first using a brush, then filled the rest using a fine nap roller.

 

DIY Stenciled Floor Paint

STEP 2 PAINT

This is where you apply the base colour for your stencil.

You can get all types of fancy specialty paints, however we simply used regular wall paint (Accent Premium Low-Sheen in “Natural White” by Dulux). We applied two coats in the same fashion as the primer; cutting in with a brush around the edges first, then filling the rest using a fine nap roller.

Note: No matter how well you clean the floor and isolate the room, you’ll probably notice that fresh dust, hairs, small insects and other fine particles will magically appear to be smooshed in with your paint. Just keep a damp cloth on hand to wipe them away or pick them up as needed.

 

How to Stencil a Floor

STEP 3 STENCIL

The cool (and potentially fiddly) bit!

Getting started can feel daunting though the best advice I can offer is to think about your pattern placement then just go for it – in a careful, considered kinda way. It’s only paint so you can always re-do any major stuff-ups. Just remember that it doesn’t need to be perfect to look great.

To begin with we laid down the stencil at our desired starting point, making sure it was nice and straight, before taping the corners to avoid accidental shifting. Next, I evenly primed a small dense foam roller with regular acrylic wall paint (in a custom colour I mixed-up using left-overs we already had) before off-loading any excess on a folded old bed sheet. Then I began painting. Once one pass of the stencil was complete, I lifted it carefully then realigned it, making sure it was still straight and square. Then I taped it down once more and proceeded to paint the next area, continuing in this manner until the entire floor was complete.

The edges are a little tricky. The corners are especially hard. You can flex the stencil to almost 90 degrees however you don’t want to crease it. There are a few different ways you can tackle the edges however I found that it worked well to use a long narrow implement (such as a window squeegee, plaster float or simply a rigid sheet of card) to push the stencil into the edge and then a stencil brush to stipple up to the implement as best as possible. If you’re fortunate enough to have a second person as a helper, it does make things easier. You will almost certainly still have to hand fill some areas though if you take your time it won’t detract from the overall design.

Note: If you’re not sure where to start looking for stencils, simply have a Google around. eBay and Etsy are both great sources. As mentioned earlier, my particular stencil has now been discontinued however you can find similar ones if you search for “trellis stencil” or “moroccan stencil”.

Note: When deciding where to begin, keep in mind that the room may not be entirely square and try to avoid leaving slivers at the edges as these are hard to fill and can make the design look stunted. We started stenciling at the entrance and along under the widow to ensure the most visible area of flooring would look neat and square. You can measure and mark if you’re not confident with repositioning the stencil by eye and for a large room I would probably recommend this. Smaller spaces are a little more forgiving and there is some wriggle room for adjusting things if they start to get off-track.

Tip: I found that the paint dried super fast so didn’t notice any issues with smudging though you can use a hairdryer before lifting your stencil if you’re experiencing paint transference problems.

 

Non Yellowing Floor Sealer

STEP 4 SEAL

To protect the paint, provide a subtle finishing sheen and make cleaning easier, we sealed our floor with three coats of clear acrylic (Cabot’s CFP Floor in Satin).

We first ensured the floor was clean of dust and marks, then applied the sealer in the same manner as the primer and base paint; cutting in around the edges first with a brush then rolling the rest using a fine nap roller.

If you use a specialty floor paint with a built-in sealer, you may not need to worry about this step.

Note: Most sealers will yellow over time to some extent, though some are by far worse than others. Do a bit of research, ask an expert and choose carefully.

Tip: As with the base coat, you will probably notice fresh specks of dust and hairs when applying the clear sealer so keep a damp rag on hand to wipe them away as required.

DIY Stenciled Floor Tutorial

DIY Painted Sub-Floor Tutorial

And that’s it! As you’ve probably garnered, painting a floor is really not that different to painting a wall. The main difference is ensuring the finish is durable enough to withstand use and can be easily cleaned. Definitely a DIY anyone can have a go at!

How to Paint and Stencil your Sub-Floor

As soon as I complete my parent’s living room (which should happen some time in the next week or two!) I will get onto finishing and sharing this space too.

Signature

 

SHOW SOME LOVE, SHARE THIS POST
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

A Virtual Room Makeover Before and After

A little while back I was contacted by Sherylee.

She wanted to make some changes in her living room though was having trouble deciding on the design because she was struggling to visualise her ideas.

In short, she was feeling confused, uncertain and overwhelmed. And, as a result, things were stagnant.

Here are some of the before pics she sent me…

 Living Room Before

Before 2

Before 3

As you can see, there is a glorious vaulted ceiling, beautiful wooden beams and trim, nice neutral walls, and plenty of space.

Her “musts” list was pretty straightforward…

– Include a wood burner (she had already bought this)
– Retain wooden trim (it is solid Jarrah and she loves it)
– Include autumn toned accents (as they are used throughout the house)
– Retain storage bench beneath the window (you can’t see it in the before pics though it is visible in some of the renderings)

Of course, those were just the preliminary basics. To create the perfect space for Sherylee I also needed to know her “wants”.

So, after many emails back-and-forth (sharing images, ideas and dimensions), plus some plan tweaking, here’s the final virtual design…

Virtual Rendering After 1

Virtual Rendering After

3D Virtual Rendering Living Room

Living Room After Rendering

Living Room Rendering

I love the way this room came together. Thankfully, so did Sherylee!

Here’s a short summary of some of the design decisions…

To provide a focal point, it made sense to position the wood burner centrally on the large, clear wall. This in turn dictated the furniture layout. I love the look of two sofas positioned opposite one another, and was so excited to be able to suggest this configuration as there is no television in this space. Maybe it’s just me, though I often see beautiful rooms with facing sofas and a TV which then can’t be comfortably viewed from front-on and wonder “how the heck did they get that past their husbands?”. LOL! Like I said, perhaps it’s just me, though I personally find it a bit impractical in most cases.

As mentioned above, Sherylee had already bought the wood burner and also sent me an inspiration pic of a reclaimed brick hearth she really liked so I incorporated something similar in the plan.

One of the other ideas we played with was building-out the wall and enclosing the wood burner and flue in the style of a traditional open fireplace…

Fireplace Rendering

Virtual Rendering Fire

It looked really amazing, all dressed in shiplap and complete with a chunky reclaimed wooden mantel, though Sherylee wasn’t quite ready to commit to that level of construction. She mentioned it was definitely something she would keep in mind for the future though.

To give continuity to the large open-plan room (the kitchen and dining reside within this space too – just behind the armchairs in the rendering), I suggested that the pendant lights over the living zone should co-ordinate with those already in the kitchen (you can spy the original red pendants in one of the before pics).

Sherylee was feeling quite lost about the placement, scale and subject of wall decor. We played with a few different ideas, though eventually settled on an eclectic gallery. They are fun and affordable to put together and can inject loads of personality and interest. Spanning the full wall and extending the art behind the flue adds to the appearance of width and helps unite the flanking cabinets as well as making a fantastic statement!

For something a bit different, and because the scale of the room allowed, I opted for one narrow coffee table and two ottomans, instead of one really large coffee table. Not only does this help provide a sense of spaciousness (as more floor area is visible), it also affords greater flexibility for reconfiguring the furniture if desired.

Here are a few doll’s house pics to provide a better idea of the furniture placement…

Virtual Rendering Dollshouse View

Rendering Living Room

The rug could be a little larger, to anchor the armchairs too, though I’ve based the dimensions off the Ikea LOHALS which Sherylee already owns. And sacrificing a few inches to save a few hundred bucks is totally worth it in my eyes :)

The flanking cabinets not only offer practical storage for firewood and other items, though also help balance the wood burner. Although built-in cabinets would look fantastic, where possible I like the idea of keeping furniture free-standing so it’s easy to make future changes. Painting them in a colour which mimics the walls helps them look more integrated though Sherylee could also choose to make a statement with a pop of colour or beautiful natural timber finish.

Here’s a before and after collage just for comparison’s sake…

Virtual Rendering Before and After

If you know me, you probably know that I like to “make the most”. This generally involves working with items people already have. You might then be wondering why I haven’t incorporated all of the furniture pieces you can see in the before pics. Sadly, they just weren’t quite right for the new layout. Fortunately though, Sherylee is still in the process of decorating other rooms in her house, so was happy to relocate items as need be.

So, that’s what I came up with. What do you think? I can’t wait to see how Sherylee brings this virtual room to life!

Signature

If you’d like some design help with a room in your home, feel free to contact me about a virtual consultation.

SHOW SOME LOVE, SHARE THIS POST
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone

DIY Concrete Vessel Planters

Do you guys remember when I shared some pics of this simple concrete vessel I made a few months back…

DIY Concrete Vessel Planters | The Painted Hive

Well, I received quite a few requests for a tutorial so have spent the past few weeks perfecting my process (and learning more than I will ever need to know about concrete!) so I can share a thorough ‘how to’ with you all.

Anyhoo, let’s get to it.

Make Your Own Cement Planter

DIY Cement Vessels

CEMENT
See below for further info.

WATER
Impurities in water can effect the strength, appearance, curing time and durability of concrete so using regular drinking water is recommended.

AGGREGATES (OPTIONAL)
Basically, an aggregate is any granular material, such as sand, gravel, rocks, pebbles, vermiculite, perlite, peat moss and so on, which contribute to the overall mass of your concrete. Aggregates can effect your concrete by; increasing the strength, modifying the structure, altering the texture, changing the colour and reducing the weight.
You may want to add perlite or vermiculite if you’re creating a particularly large planter as it will help reduce the overall weight. You may want to add gravel or peat moss if you’d like to create a rustic planter with lots of texture and some colour variation. It’s really just a matter of experimenting until you find which aggregates, if any, you like.

DIY Cement Planter How To

DIY Cement Planters

BUCKET OR CONTAINER
Just something to mix your cement in. You could even mix it directly in your mould – though that can be a bit fiddly.

MIXING IMPLEMENT
I used a trowel and a wooden spoon. You could just use your hands (be sure to wear gloves) or even a stirrer drill attachment if you’re super fancy.

LUBRICANT
Anything which will provide a bit of slip is fine. I used cooking oil spray, though you could use vaseline or a purpose mould release spray.

MOULDS
You need two nesting vessels to form your mould. You can use whatever you like; tupperware containers, plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, old tins, metal baking dishes, and so on.
For this tutorial I actually used a cheap ceramic bowl (for the outer mould) and a little plastic ramekin (for the inner mould) because they created the exact form I was after (plus I was on a deadline when I made my initial planters so didn’t have time to shop around).
I realise using something ceramic as a mould is a bit unorthodox due its inflexible, breakable nature, though it worked incredibly well for me. I was able to release my concrete planter with a few simple bangs and have been able to re-use the same mould over and over again!  I think I’ve made about twelve little vessels now using the exact same ceramic bowl!
When selecting your moulds, be sure to keep their shape in mind to ensure you can easily release your concrete. Of course, if the top tapers in or has an interior lip, make sure you’re willing and able to completely destroy the mould to release your planter. Also, make sure that your inner mould allows for thick enough walls. To avoid fragility, your planter need to be around 15mm/.5″ thick.

SANDPAPER OR FILE
Just to help smooth any rough or bumpy bits if desired.

 

Types of Cement

There are heaps of different cements out there so choosing the right one can be confusing. Although I don’t consider myself any kind of expert, I did a fair bit of research and experimented with a few different varieties so thought it was worth sharing what I learned.

It’s important to first note that whilst straight cement comes in many different varieties there are also products which contain a blend of cement and other substances.

Straight cement may be found in General Purpose (also known as Portland Grey), White or Off-White, Rapid Set, Extra Strength, and so on. Cement is a fine powder which hardens when combined with water. Although it is rarely used alone, it is the active ingredient in many construction mixes.

Cement blends may include Concrete Mix (a combination of cement, sand and gravel), Mortar Mix (a combination of cement, sand and lime) or simply Sand & Cement Mix.

Cement is rarely used alone because it lacks inherent strength. For construction purposes this poses a major problem, however for little crafty projects such as this, cement alone is ample strong enough. Particularly if it’s properly cured (more on that in Step 5 below).

So, which straight cement or cement blend should you use?

For this project anything should work. However the process and results may vary.

Straight cement produces a relatively smooth and even finish. Concrete Mix is full of grunge and texture (due to the size of some of the included aggregate Concrete Mix may not be suitable for small projects though). Mortar Mix is slightly grainy and a bit softer.

I trialed three different products; General Purpose Cement (Portland Grey), Rapid Set Sand & Cement, and Off-White Cement (Portland Off-White). Here’s what I found…

General Purpose Cement

GENERAL PURPOSE CEMENT (PORTLAND GREY)

Unfortunately, the bag I bought had been moisture effected. As soon as I opened it I noticed lots of little lumps. I actually thought I had accidentally bought Concrete Mix! I didn’t want to buy a whole new bag and luckily the lumps were all small (gravel-like in size), so I decided to use it anyway. And it actually worked really well! The cement lumps did not break down during the mixing process as I thought they might, though instead acted as an aggregate of sorts to provide texture and strength. Obviously, as a result of the cement lumps my planter has a bit more grunge than one made from normal cement might have, though you can easily reproduce the look by adding gravel or pebbles.

Rapid Set Sand & Cement

RAPID SET SAND & CEMENT

I was so excited when I read the front of this cement packet and noted that it should harden in 15 minutes! Sadly though, that did not happen. No matter what consistency I tried, it took hours for it to even partially set, and even then it still felt a little “soft” and quite grainy, almost like grout or mortar. It’s almost like the sand to cement ratio was a little off. The best explanation I can come up with is that the cement was old and had expired. You see, cement has a somewhat limited life span (opened or not). The resulting planters are quite even in colour though still have some nice imperfections and an appealing grungy appearance.

Off-White Cement

OFF-WHITE CEMENT (PORTLAND OFF-WHITE)

Third time lucky! This cement wasn’t moisture effected, wasn’t expired, and acted just like it was supposed to! The colour is a lovely soft warm white with a subtle green undertone. The finish is relatively smooth with just a few small-ish air pockets, however with the introduction of some aggregates the surface imperfections could be increased. I noticed that the exposed top dried shiny – weird, though easy enough to sand back to matte. Whilst the finish is a little more even and refined than I wanted, I do really like the overall look of this particular cement.

Note: ‘Portland’ is not a brand name, rather it is the generic title of the most common type of cement.

DIY Concrete Planters Using Different Types of Cement

If for some reason you experience problems with your planters, don’t give up or blame yourself…blame the cement – LOL! I’ve had a few failures which I now attribute to my cement being expired. Probably because I bought small bags which had likely been sitting on the shelf in the hardware store for too long. If your concrete fails to set properly, cracks or crumbles with ease, or just seems a bit wrong, maybe try a new bag of cement.

 

How to Make DIY Concrete Vessels

DY Cement Planters

STEP 1 Mix cement with water.

Based on the amount of concrete you need, place a scoop or two (or three or four) of cement in your container then gradually add water, stirring as you go. It’s really easy – just like making icing! If you add too much water, simply correct by introducing more cement. You’re after a work-able, toothpaste-like consistency. Too much water and your concrete will be weak and prone to shrinkage and cracks. Too little water and your concrete won’t bind well, resulting in crumbling.

If you’re using aggregates, add them to your dry cement and combine well prior to incorporating any water. As this concrete doesn’t need to be structural, you don’t need to worry too much about exact proportions. Just add a handful or two until you’re happy with the mix.

DIY Concrete Planters

STEP 2 Lubricate your moulds.

Thoroughly coat the contact surfaces of your moulds with your chosen lubricant. As mentioned above, I used cooking oil spray though you can use anything which will create some slip.

DIY Concrete Pots

STEP 3 Fill your outer mould with cement mixture.

Fill the mould ensuring you allow enough space for your inner mould to take-up some of the volume.

Tip: Before adding any cement mixture to your mould, first check the depth your inner mould needs to sit at by hovering it at your desired height and taking note of where it sits in conjunction with the rim of your outer mould. This will help ensure your base isn’t too thin or too thick.

DIY Cement Vessels

STEP 4 Press your inner mould into the cement mixture.

Push the inner mould down into the concrete, trying to keep it as level and central as possible. Make sure you don’t push it down too far – you need the base of your planter to be around 15mm/.5″ thick. If there is too much or too little concrete in your mould, simply add or remove some.

The inner mould will want to float up, so weigh it down by filling it with sand or rocks or anchoring it with some masking tape.

Note: In order to remove your moulds with ease, ensure your inner mould sits proud enough of the cement mixture so that you can get a good grip on it. Also, if you are using an inflexible outer mould like me, ensure the cement mixture sits just below the top so it has room to “drop down” when you bang it out.

Tip: If you want aesthetic air pockets in your planter, avoid vibrating (patting, tapping, shaking or banging) your cement mixture down too much.

Tip: You can even-up the top of your planter once you release it from the mould, though if you want to create a perfectly smooth and level top from the get-go, trim a disk of cardboard to fit then press it firmly onto the exposed concrete.

How to Make Concrete Planters

STEP 5 Leave to cure for around 24 hours.

Place your mould in a protected area to cure overnight.

Note: For optimal results, it’s recommended to cure your cement over seven days whilst keeping it moist. You can do this by wrapping it in a plastic bag and leaving it somewhere cool.

Make your own Concrete Planters

STEP 6 Release from mould.

Remove the inner mould first. Depending on what you’ve used, it may take a bit of persuasion though shouldn’t be too hard to dislodge. I simply gave mine a few wiggles to release the seal then it pulled out with ease. If you’re struggling to get a good grip, use some pliers. Next, release the planter from the outer mould. Again, your method for removal will be dictated by the type of mould you’ve used. I merely dropped my bowl on a table a couple of times and the planter plopped straight out.

How to make Concrete Pots

STEP 7 Sand or file any rough areas if desired.

I find that the tops can look a little bumpy and crude so I like to even them out with some sandpaper. I just think it makes the planters look a little more “finished”. Of course, if you like the rustic effect, you can simply leave it.

Note: Concrete is porous so any moisture will likely seep through and dampen the base of your planter. Protect any underlying surfaces by attaching small felt or rubber pads to its base. You may even want to coat the interior with a water-proof sealer, like silicone. In addition, be mindful that the lime content of cement can be harmful to certain plants so you may even want to consider lining the planter with some tough plastic to ensure there is a barrier between the cement and any soil.

Tip: In addition to coating the interior of your planter, you can also paint the exterior with a clear sealer to give it a slightly smoother feel and a hint of sheen.

Tip: If you intend to use your planter to house plants which require drainage, you can use a masonry bit to drill a hole or holes in the base.

FINAL NOTES

SAFETY
Be sure to read and follow any safety directions as specified by the manufacturer as cement can be hazardous to health.

DISPOSAL
Allow any left-over wet cement to harden before breaking it up and disposing in your general household trash.

DIY Concrete Planter Tutorial

And there you have it! Super easy, affordable and kinda addictive!

In case anyone is wondering the plants are Baby’s Tears (Soleirolia Soleirolii) and Golden Club Moss (Selaginella).

How to make concrete vessels

Although I’ve filled my vessels with cascading plants, you can use these cute little bowls in many ways, from catching jewellery on your night stand to keys in your entryway. Plus, they make awesome hand-made gifts!

I guess if you’ve read all this, you’ve probably worked out that my “DIY Concrete Vessel Planters” aren’t actually concrete at all! Technically, they aren’t cement either as the definition of cement is “a powdery substance”. Maybe I could call them “set cement”? Either way, concrete just sounds better and saves from confusion!

DIY Concrete Vessel Planters

Hope this crazy, over-the-top, way too in-depth tutorial encourages a few of you to give this a go.

DIY Concrete Vessel Tutorial

Signature

 Thought I would put together this little ‘cheat sheet’ too…

DIY: Make your own cool concrete vessels - you won't believe how  cheap and easy it is!

SHOW SOME LOVE, SHARE THIS POST
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on Google+Email this to someone