Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Birdbath Art

Whoa! It’s MAY already. I don’t know where that time went, but I know I’ve been busy. And there’s so much yet to do as spring settles in and my gardens are begging for attention.

One fun project my friends and I have done over the past couple of weekends is make a sandcast birdbath. Have you done this? It is SO much easier than you’d think.

First, you shape a nice pile of sand/dirt into a mound.  This will be the shape of your birdbath/bowl, so you have to think about the shape and how deep, even and round it is.  Cover the mound of dirt with plastic sheeting (or torn garbage/leaf bag).  This will keep the dirt off of the leaf and out of the concrete.

Next, you find a great big leaf with good defining veins.  (We used huge rhubarb leaves.) Cut the stem off about an inch from the base of the leaf.  Place the leaf right side down onto the mounded dirt and adjust to create an even bowl.  You will want to have an extra leaf to patch the area by the stem.  The stem will leave sort of a trough for water to drain out of your birdbath, so it needs that patch to prevent that.  You can see where the stem would have been and where I patched it.  (I forgot to take pictures of this fun, messiest phase, but my camera was in the house as we were playing with wet concrete!)

Mix up some concrete – we used a wheelbarrow.  The fun part is slapping the concrete on and shaping it over your leaf.  You want to leave an inch or so of the leaf showing, and we found it created a nice edge if we wrapped that leaf edge back up around the concrete.  The concrete should only be about 1-1/2 inches thick all over.  When you get it right, you place a fitting into the concrete, but you don’t want it deep enough to get to the leaf, or you will have a hole in your birdbath.  You then add some more concrete to build it up around that fitting. 

Now it has to dry for a couple of days – I think it took ours 2 days.  Once the concrete is good and dry, you can peel it off of the leaf.  If you wait too long, the leaf will stick to the concrete, and it’s harder to peel off.  This is what they look like now:

Then we got to the painting part.  I loved this part!  We used inexpensive craft acrylic paints – the bottles I’ve had for years worked just fine.  Squirt paint color(s) into a tub or cup (they wash up fine) and mix in a little water.  We experimented with how much water to add to get the color wash we wanted.

Some did multi colors, others blackened the veins.  (Of course I was the one that had to be different and used blues and greens instead of reds . . . )  We used a gold wash over it all to add a little sparkle.  I also put a pearl wash over mine.  I can never be done when I should stop.




  I think they are gorgeous!

The bluebirds are now waiting for me to give it a seal coat so it can go out in the yard. A piece of rebar will go into the ground, and a piece of galvanized tubing will slide over the rebar and fit into that fitting on the bottom of the bath. I will take a photo of it when it’s in the ground (and hopefully surrounded by some flowers)!

After this painting session, I attended a photography class put on by some friends who are fabulous photographers.  "How to Shoot Your Kids" was the name of the class.  More on that another time . . .


  1. WOW- they are stunners!!! You are so talented! And patient...

  2. They look really cool! These will look fabulous out in the yard. Will be waiting to see them surrounded by flowers.

    (I'm waiting)

  3. LOVE those! I think I might have to try that. (but no rhubarb this far south)

  4. Well it looks a lot of work and they look really great, I am looking forward to seeing them in the garden when you have finished it.

  5. those, wish my rhubarb plant was big enough to pick, but I just put it in 2 days ago...It'll be at least a year before I have nice big leaves, going to try and remember this though...they are gorgeous!

  6. These are sooooo beautiful! I want to do this!


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