Practical and Pretty Ferrocement

“Ferrocement Steps with Lace and Wild Tiles” sounds like an exotic recipe yet our Ferrocement creations are made very simply. They are practical (a step or water retention basin) and pretty. It costs nothing more than a pinch of pizazz and time to add frills to the functional creation.[tribulant_slideshow gallery_id=”3″]

We use whatever materials we already have on hand. We buy only a bag of Cement, and combine this with reclaimed gravel, off cuts of wire mesh a bit of old lace and some broken tiles or ceramics. We use old bricks and dirty gravel as the aggregate and as the tint.

Making cement is easier than cooking, all you have to do is make sure you mix it well, then leave it to bake. As it bakes we add pretty impressions or embedded broken tiles. We tap the tiles into place with the end of a hammer and simply press the concrete up to the sides of the tiles with a gloved finger.

Timing is everything for adding the decoration. We make the concrete (mix of cement and an aggregate of reused gravel or sandy soil) fairly sloppy, like soft-serve ice-cream.  When it wobbles like a Buddha’s tummy, you can embed tiles into it. As the concrete mix gets slightly firmer, you can put lace on it and press that in gently so the lace is partially covered. Wait until the sheen on the concrete is gone and the surface is powdery, then lift the lace away carefully to leave the imprint.

As soon as the surface powdery dry, wipe each tile with a clean dry rag. If you miss a bit during the tile-cleaning you can come back later using a tiny bit of vinegar on a small fresh rag tied to the end of a stick for precision, but it is much easier to do the cleaning before the cement sets rock hard.

The full cost of making this step (which also doubles as a water catchment and directing platform) was $5 cement, recycled broken bricks, old lace curtain (we last used this as part of our emergency bee handling kit) and tiles.