Cheap Trick

No- I am not lost. I am not posting music blog stuff from the 1980’s (has it really been that long..).

No- I haven’t switched this over to a relationship blog…endless stream of ..”and then he…”.

Oh no.  What I am going to talk about here is a method/style of making a quick project which is simple enough for kids, campers or  unhandy visiting bored relative types. You can actually produce some pretty and  use-able items using this process.  

I decided to do this because I saw a discussion on a message board on making stepping stones with children. They were talking molds, cement mixing yadda yadda. STOP! Stop right there . There is NO need for all that. It is messy. You will buy stuff you do not need and make things that are not use-able and have leftover concrete/cement whatever all over the place. And- I may not have children – but I have seen them in action. No reason to mix concrete with ’em.  Not unless you want it in places you never imagined it could get….I’m just sayin’….

I will walk you through a project which is easy, cheap and decorative.

This piece is made using a paver, part of an old metal plaque and tumbled stones….



I have loads of these. I will share some of the pics as we go along.

 This was made from a shell trivet glued down as one piece.


Go to Wally World or another similar place and buy a concrete paver. Round , square, rectangular. You decide.

Next, acquire some clear 100% silicone caulk -also available at Wally World in the paint department. Pick up a cheap DRIPLESS caulk gun.

Assemble your “tesserae” bit and pieces of shards, metal, glass- what have you.  A word here- resin and plastic stuff will fade in fairly short order- a year or two- if exposed to the elements. Personally I like glass and china and mirror…use what you have.

Depends of course on the ages you are working with…Younger kids do well with rocks and bricks- small projects. Check out some of these:


 Get your base (paver, brick, stone, whatever)  out.

Clean the debris off of it.  A stiff brush and damp towel work fine.

Lay out your design out and start gluing .

Use the silicone to glue the pieces to the paver (stone or whatever). This stuff stinks so- do it outside in a well ventilated area. If you get silicone where you don’t want it- use WD 40 to remove the residue.

TIP:I use a dripless caulk gun- available with home improvement supplies anywhere….Load the gun with the silicone. Squirt some silicone in a cheap baggie. Cut the corner off the baggie and use it like an icing bag. Cheap, easy way to hand out the adhesive to a whole room full of folks. I do this when I teach. This is how I dispense all of my adhesives.

OK. Every body has a paver, some junk and a baggie with silicone. 

Make something.

Let the piece dry for at least 24 hours out of direct sunlight.

Now- you are ready for grouting. I use sanded grout that I get at the big box stores- When I first started doing these things- I had a small bag of Quick Crete.I did not know any better. I thought this was grout. I used it as such and Voila!!! Those are the pieces that have certainly weathered the best!!! Who da thunk…;-).

The stone on the left is made of scrap stained glass- no cutting, glued to a paver, “grouted” with Quick Crete. It is 7 years old. Still holding up well.

At any rate, get sanded grout. I totally hate the stuff that is premixed with additives. It is actually much harder for newbies to work with. Get the regular stuff in a small bag and mix it your self. Follow the manufacture’s directions. Or not…hehehe. I mix it much drier than they recommend and it is far less messy. I usually mix it to the consistancy of a pretty stiff cookie dough….

Gently wipe excess off. Use a dry rag for this step.

Let the piece dry for a while – wipe off haze. Again- check manufacturer’s recommendations.

Polish with a cloth. Seal with a good tile sealer. Or not. It will last longer if you do. 

Here are some completed stepping stones made using the process described above:






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