Sunday, March 29, 2020

Stepping Stones

Yesterday I got to work on using some of the pottery chips I've collected on my walks with Olga. My idea was to incorporate them into stepping stones for the garden.

Of course this turned out to be a more complicated project than one would expect. I read online that I needed a bag of quick-setting concrete, which I located at Homebase and lugged home a couple of days ago. I wasn't sure I got the right kind, but it was the only quick-setting variety of prepared concrete they had.

Turns out it was a bit too rocky to be ideal. But we made it work. I roped Dave into helping me mix it, because he's done some building a repair work with his dad and I'd never touched wet concrete in my life.

We used an old frying pan lined with aluminum foil as a mold. Dave poured in the concrete and I frantically plugged the chips of pottery into the top, trying to space them evenly and get as many in as possible before the concrete set.

"Is there food in those bowls?"

Here are the finished products. I think they'll get much lighter after they fully dry. They're not quite what I had in mind, but considering I've never done anything like this before I suppose they're OK. If I had it to do over again I'd buy smoother concrete (more sand, less gravel) and I'd get a variety that doesn't set quite as quickly.

I'm not sure how well they're going to wear, but it's all a big experiment anyway. I only used a tiny fraction of all the chips I have. I suppose if these don't work out I can toss them and try again.

Mrs. Kravitz went back to Homebase yesterday morning and came home with another carload of free plants! Her patio is literally covered with them. She gave me one of her sadder-looking primroses, which I have attempted to revive. I walked Olga to Homebase and picked up two more plants myself -- a crown imperial fritillaria and a pink spider azalea (which is labeled as a houseplant, so maybe it needs to be grown indoors). I'm not sure why there are still plants to give away at this point. Surely the store is just about empty?

Dave and I finally watched "Marriage Story" on Netflix last night. It's been sitting in our queue for weeks and weeks. I really enjoyed it -- and the acting was excellent, as confirmed by the Academy Award nominations it received. (And Laura Dern's win.)


  1. Those look like they turned out okay. I hope you enjoy them. I've not heard of that film.

  2. I think they look fine and like you say they will lighten when dry.
    I am assuming that you are safe to stay in you lovely flat then?
    I may have missed a post that told me this.

  3. It was clever of you to use an old frying pan as a mould but I think the aluminium foil was possibly unnecessary. When they are dry and hopefully embedded in the ground you should ask the redoubtable Mrs Kravitz to pass judgement. At the same time please ask her if you can take a few snaps of her for your blog so that your loyal readers can see what she looks like. Wearing a bathing suit would be good - Mrs K not you!

  4. Someone commented recently that Mrs Kravitz needs 40 acres and a mule to deal with all those plants. I think it should now be upped to 80 acres, two mules and possibly a hired hand.
    That woman lives in some weird parallel universe. It's a very great shame this weird universe happens to be on the other side of your fence...

  5. What a fun project! And thanks for the reminder about Marriage Story. We're currently watching Genius: Picasso on Amazon Prime. I'm loving it. But we DO live in Málaga and I DO love Picasso.

  6. I love what Alphie said about Mrs. K.
    I think your stepping stones are going to be awesome. See- you're making art in a utilitarian form. I love it!

  7. I Love The Stepping Stones!! What A Group Project - You Worked Together As A Team, Created Memories, And Ogla Gave The Finally Look Over Of Approval - Outstanding - Next Up, As The Concrete Begins To Set, An Olga Paw Print - The 2020 Fossilized Ideas Are Endless - Stay Creative And Many Thanx For Sharing The Joys Of Backyard Beautifying


  8. I love your stepping stone project. I have thought about doing something like that, but haven't tried it yet. You inspire me to get to it. I am surprised that Mrs K gave you a primrose. Is there a bit of neighborly kindness lurking in her dark heart? LOL!

  9. Newspaper reporter, Peace Corpsman, Librarian, Dog-walker, Gardener, and now a Craftsman. What will you come up with next?

  10. Your stepping stones are super! You fellas did a really nice job. My goodness, wasn't that so nice of Mrs. Kravitz! Maybe she has a sweet spot in her heart for you after all. You never know! Stay safe and have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  11. I'm sure you'll be doing stepping stones again. I think there is an acrylic that goes over the cement and seals the top and makes it smooth and shiny.

  12. That is quite a project and I think you did pretty well. Those are going to look nice in the garden. I can't believe that Homebase still has plants available. Usually when the "Free" sign goes up things disappear quickly.

  13. Arts and crafts in quarantine! I love it. As for the concrete, a longer setting one should be ok since you have all the time in the world for it to cure. I look forward to seeing more of this project. Such a great way to use to chips of pottery you found, my archeologist friend.

  14. Astonished that you are still moving around outside of your house! We have been in for nearly three weeks, Mr. Man nearly two weeks. We go no where. It is very quiet! Eating things for dinner , like cauliflower crisps, and peanutbutter...We will be quarantined until mid July it looks like.I do have some flower seeds for the deck, but not enough soil, I may just plant little pots , small ambitions these days. I have lost my cfeativity is seems...though I am inspired by your cement / shard path stones. Carry on, stay well.

  15. Well now, those stepping stones look quite nice! Do you still have concrete for more? (I assume so with such a large bag.) So Mrs. K was willing to part with a half dead primrose? What generous thing will she do next? They were FREE, for god's sake! People are strange.

  16. The stepping stones are great. Just imagine, all those broken bits have a story. Who designed and made the pottery? Who bought it or were gifted those pieces? How were they broken?

  17. Great stepping stones. I wonder how it would work to put the pottery (pretty side down) in the pan, and pour the concrete over the top of it. It might give you more control over how it looks.

  18. E: Actually, they're looking better as the cement dries. I'll post another picture when they're installed.

    Briony: Yeah, it looks like we'll be staying put. When we finally met with the landlords we didn't get any indications that they wanted us to move. Whew!

    YP: No pics of Mrs K on MY blog! No way!

    Alphie: Ha! Yes, it's like living next to a black hole -- all reason and sanity disappears.

    Mitchell: I haven't heard of that show! We'll have to check it out. The streaming services must be one of the few businesses prospering in this day and age.

    Ms Moon: Well, calling it art might be a stretch. Crafts, maybe!

    Padre: Funny you mention the paw print -- we were going to do that but the cement dries so quickly we didn't have a chance! I think we're going to make one more, so maybe on that one.

    Robin: My advice is, find smoother concrete. The rocky stuff is hard to deal with.

    Catalyst: I'm easily distracted! LOL

    Edna: Mrs K actually has her moments, very very infrequently.

    Red: Oh, I didn't even think of that -- some kind of sealer. Hmm...

    Sharon: I think they put out a new batch Saturday morning. I'm not sure why.

    37P: Yeah, I don't know why they specified quick-setting concrete. Maybe just so it doesn't sit around for days. But as you said, why not?!

    Linda Sue: I think as long as you maintain distance from people there's no risk to being outside. You should still be able to walk around your neighborhood and that kind of thing. I don't know about you, but I need to get out and about. I can't just stay indoors.

    Jenny-O: She is a piece of work, LOL! Yes, we're going to make one more stone, I think.

    Penelope: I am fascinated by all those broken bits. And it's so odd that they all wound up on Hampstead Heath. Clearly it was something of a trash dump back in the old days.

    Susan: We thought of that, but I think the weight of the cement would shift the pottery, and possibly swallow it up entirely. I like being able to see what it's doing, even if I have to move fast!