How to Make Concrete Sculptures For Profit

Learn how one reader started a thriving business in making and selling concrete sculptures. Information includes a concrete recipe, what kinds of concrete molds to buy and advice for selling the product.

| May/June 1982

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    Watering the “green” urn to allow bonding to occur.
    JIM WHITE
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    Glazing the urn… a handsome finished product.
    JIM WHITE
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    Filling the mold.
    JIM WHITE
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    Mixing sand, cement, gravel, and water in a wheelbarrow economically!
    PHOTO: JIM WHITE
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    Assembling a planter mold.
    JIM WHITE
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    Displaying the completed planter.
    JIM WHITE

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I've never suffered from a lack of creative ideas. In fact, you might say that I've got plenty of notions. Unfortunately, my brainstorms don't often pay off. I knew my luck had changed, though, when I encountered a classified ad that began "Turn Concrete Into Gold." The mere mention of the precious metal was enough to grab my interest. I read on, and discovered that the ad concerned materials and instructions to be used in making concrete lawn ornaments. "What the hey," I said to myself, and ordered the information booklet.

At the time, I knew little about concrete other than that it was heavy and made fine patios and driveways. But I had noticed that it was composed of sand, gravel, cement and water. Sand — I figured — could be gathered free along riverbeds, gravel could be easily (and inexpensively) bought from local outlets and cement ran only about $7.00 for a 94-pound bag of Portland's finest. Water was as close as the backyard hose, and it looked as though I might be able to start out in business without spending much money at all!

Adapting Plans

However, when my key to a fortune — a 77-page publication — arrived a short time later, I was rudely awakened. I'd been thinking of marketing handsome figurines, but the molds needed to produce ornamental statuary were more expensive than I'd dreamed they could be. So, I decided to follow a more practical route by starting with such useful objects as flower planters (which required less costly molds).

 

After studying the booklet, I chose two designs: a discreet Grecian urn, about 12 inches high, that required a four-piece mold (listing for $100) and a hexagonal stepping stone that could be poured in a two-part hinged mold ($115). To this $215 investment, I added $14 for two quarts of a specially formulated paint to cover the interior surfaces of the molds. (This proved to be a worthwhile expense: The paint protects the forms from constant contact with the abrasive concrete mix and with proper care — which includes cleaning and oiling after each use — I believe the lifetime of my molds can be extended indefinitely.)



Since my initial excursion into the field, I've learned that there are several other types of molds besides the cast aluminum forms I purchased. Some are made from latex and others are fiberglass. Despite my initial ignorance, though, I believe I wound up with the best possible equipment. Latex molds are very short-lived and hardly worth the price. Fiberglass, on the other hand, is sturdy — but the details of complex shapes tend to blur out. Therefore, although cast aluminum is the most expensive to begin with, it's by far the most practical. If you expect to sell quality items (and why bother getting involved in making any product if you can't be proud of it?), you'll need superior molds to make them.

 

alisha Oloughlin
4/20/2013 4:07:31 AM

Can anyone recommend a good, detailed book or instructional booklet to get started on casting concrete sculptures? Thanks in advance.







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