For Garden Party Centerpieces

Make your own “concrete” birdbath tutorial.

 

Welcome all you DIY Wedding magazine readers who have hopped over here to see how I craft these faux concrete birdbaths for your garden party centerpieces.

Closeup of concrete birdbath centerpiece

I jump at the opportunity to eat outdoors.  Somehow al fresco elevates every gathering – even if it’s a gathering of one with her cup of caffeine and the morning news.  The patio beats the kitchen table every time!

Closeup of concrete birdbath centerpiece

Hence my attraction to the look of worn and weathered concrete statuary is understandable.  Especially for event decorating.  So what would be better for garden party centerpieces than tabletop “concrete” birdbaths? But they would also be great for outdoor wedding receptions, birthday parties, anniversaries, showers and so many other outdoor themed events!

Pin Tower for Birdbath Centerpieces

Let’s get started: Gather your “armature”

Group of cast-offs to become the armature.

To craft your own, start by gathering odd pieces to form the structure.  Keep in mind you are only looking at the shape, the form, the scale.  Don’t be put off by the truly atrocious colors, finishes or surface designs.  Mine through your cabinets, take a field trip through your local thrift stores, dollar stores or yard sales.

Thrifted pieces glued together to create the armature for three bird baths

Each birdbath will need at least 2 items.  First, a large plate, pasta bowl or small platter for the basin.  Then for the pedestal, a squatty vase, a hefty candle holder, a stemmed dessert glass are all good options.  If the footprint of the pedestal needs more width for stability or a bit more height, I like to add a salad plate or saucer upside down, like the one on the left and in the center.

And what’s a birdbath without a bird?  I’ve used two different options here.  A solitary bird statue and a short vase with a bird attached that will hold some fresh cut flowers in water.  Have fun with this!

I left one without wildlife because its arrangement will include a table number and a candle.  Add in a bird and that’s a mighty busy bath!

Play with your cache of quirky, neglected, worn “treasures” until you find the ideal combination of forms.

Time to Assemble:

Supplies: tub of Joint Compound, E6000 glue and mardi gras beads

Break out a super strong adhesive – I used E-6000.

Once your glue is dry, it’s time for the fun. Bring on the joint compound!

Yes, you read that right — joint compound. It’s my secret go-to! You won’t believe what I did with it here.

Stir the joint compound to get it a smooth and even consistency.  If it seems too dry, add some water.  You want it the consistency of frosting.  And this is very similar to, but way more forgiving than frosting a cake. Just don’t lick the spoon.

Closeup of a glob of Joint Compound on the basin and bird statue

Start with piling on a good helping of joint compound (JC). Then with your fingers, work it into all the nooks and crannies.  Lather this beginning layer on all surfaces.  Just like with painting, two thin coats is better than one heavy coat. Don’t obsess over this first coat.  You will smooth it out and work on the texture later. The goal here is a good somewhat consistent base layer.

Adding the first layer of JC to the armature of the birdbath

Stand back and take a good look at your birdbaths.  If at this point you decide, your birdbath needs a bit more, it can still be added. 

Beads for pedestal

I decided this pedestal was a bit too plain.  So I added some mardi gras beads for a bit more detail and texture.  Push the beads into the wet JC to secure them in place. 

close up of adding beads to the pedestal

Then give them their initial covering of JC. 

closeup of mardi gras beads the the lip of the basin

The basin was a bit too flat, so larger mardi gras beads adhered on top of the edge with a thick band of JC will create an awesome scallop and a bit more depth. Yes, it is easier to add these details with the adhesive before starting with the JC, but I want you to see that you can add as you go if you need to.

Smoothing the underside of the basin

Be sure to get under the basin too.

with wet fingers smoothing out the JC

Let it dry a bit (an hour or two), or even overnight and then dip your fingers (or a small soft pad works here too) in a bowl of water and gently rub to smooth out your semi-dry finish a bit.

2nd Verse — Same as the First:

Smoothing the underside of basin

Let it dry a bit more or for several days if your schedule requires, and you are ready to add a second coat of joint compound.  This layer should be enough to give you complete coverage and polish the texture.  If you were a bit thin in your application, and you have the time, there is nothing wrong with a third thin layer.

Final layer drying, waiting to be smoothed out again

Again, wet fingers, or a damp smooth rag rubbed over the almost dry surface will smooth it out further.  Once it is dry, fine grit sandpaper can also be used if you have a particularly troublesome spot.

This whole process is very forgiving, so just get in there and play!

Adding wash of thinned black craft paint

Once you’re happy with the texture and it’s dry, it’s time to add the aging. Watered down paint applied quickly and rather sloppily is it. I used cheap black craft paint. Make sure all areas are covered and let it pool a bit in the nooks and grannies.  Keep a damp rag or paper towel handy and wipe as you go on the raised areas lightening the raised areas and leaving the recessed areas darker.  You can go as light or dark as you like.

So, how to use your garden party centerpieces?

Oh the possibilities!

Faux concrete birdbath centerpiece with bird and succulents

Give it a contemporary twist with faux succulents, florist moss and a tuft of wispy grass!

Faux concrete birdbath centerpiece with candle and table number

Or, for charming and nostalgic, how about a with a candle and a table number in homespun garden clippings? 

Faux Concrete birdbath centerpiece

Maybe a traditional style with a monotone flavor of all shades of green? 

The best part is, you are the designer!  Grab your supplies, get messy, and create something fabulous!  Let me know what you’ve come up with or if I can help you with any part of the process! I’d love to see pictures of your garden party centerpieces.

DIY birdbath centerpieces - 3 optionscomposite

You know you’ll want this for later. Pin it so you can find it — maybe on multiple boards ;).

Can you believe that’s ordinary Joint Compound over junk, … ummm, curated treasures? Check this out for more inspiration!

Thrilled to be featured at these wonderful blog parties:

33 Comments

  1. Wandaliz Cortes

    So, I have been online shopping for centerpieces for my daughter’s first birthday party and I could not believe how expensive the items were going to be. I started to research birdbaths and there you were. Amazing craft project. I can go to a thrift shop and spend 3 dollars on each centerpiece with just random plates. I’m so excited to get started. Thank you so much for this idea. It’s going to save me so much money!!!!

    Thank you,
    Wanda

    Reply
    • admin

      Wanda, do you have pictures to share?

      Reply
  2. Theresa

    This is such a nice idea. I’ve made a similar one but minus the joint compound so I had to be careful and match up the pieces in color. This has such a cohesive, natural and aged look and you don’t have to be concerned as you said with the colors of your pieces AND allows you to add elements such as the beads to jazz it up. I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  3. Shelley

    These are SO fabulous! Could you please give a bit more specific information regarding the type and color(s) of paint you used? Thank You!

    Reply
    • admin

      Thanks Shelley! I love how they turned out, and they really are fun, messy and very forgiving. As for paint color, I just used a very, very watered down black craft paint I had in my stash.

      Reply
  4. KariAnne

    What a fun idea! You are brilliant and I need to make these!

    Have a wonderful day!
    karianne

    Reply
  5. Karins Kottage

    This is so clever! Such a fun and creative idea! I just might have to make one! I love the idea of just getting into it and playing with the jc adding the beads was brilliant! Pinning this!
    Hugs,
    Karin

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thanks Karin! They are fun.
      I actually came up with this over a decade ago for a church dinner-dance with a Mardis Gras theme. We were converting the parish gym into a New Orleans courtyard. A friend and I made 24 of these all at once!!! Wish I had picture of that one. Hope you make one, or four. and please send me a pic.

      Reply
  6. Elena Wiggins

    Oh my goodness, this is incredibly creative!! They’re beautiful and I had no idea you could make something look concrete like that!

    Reply
    • Diane

      And soooo fun to make Elena — it’s like you’re back playing in the mud, but this time making something fun and charming from a bunch of throw aways. Hope you give it a try!

      Reply
  7. Marie

    Oh my goodness, how fabulous is this! I have a 1-gallon pail of the stuff and now I want to shop my home to do this to ALL THE THINGS.

    Reply
    • Diane

      You go girl! Just be sure to come back with some amazing pics to share! Have fun playing with the mud!!

      Reply
  8. Allyson

    Wow! I’m amazed with the items you started with to the final reveal. I’m a thrifter so you’ve got my mind racing for what items I have in my thrifted piles! Pinned.

    Reply
    • Diane

      So glad to spark a bit of creativity, Allyson! Please send pics of what you come up with. Would love to see.

      Reply
  9. Kim | Shiplap and Shells

    What a fun and creative idea! Thank you for sharing with Charming Homes and Gardens Link Party!

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thanks Kim!
      And many thanks to you for hosting the Charming Homes & Gardens Link Party.

      Reply
  10. Julie

    Lovely cakestand! It has stood the test of time! Thanks for sharing at Tuesday Turn About!

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thanks Julie! So glad that it looks like it’s been around for a time.
      And thanks for hosting Tuesday Turn About!

      Reply
  11. Rachel

    I LOVE this idea. So cute. Thanks for sharing to Charming Homes & Gardens Link Party. Look for your feature on Wednesday. Rachel

    Reply
    • Diane

      Oh thanks Rachel! I am thrilled to be featured on Charming Homes & Gardens!
      Truly appreciate you hosting … and selecting my birdbaths!

      Reply
    • Diane

      Oh Bev, thanks so much! Such an honor — I’m so happy.

      Reply
  12. Pamq

    Those are amazing! I just love them, and I love how fun it looks to make them! I’m definitely pinning for later. Thanks for sharing with us at the TFT party – I’m featuring it at the TFT party today!

    Reply
    • Diane

      They are fun to make. The first time I came up with them, I made 24 at one time!!!! I needed centerpieces for a parish dinner dance with a Mardi Gras theme. We were trying to convert the gym into a New Orleans courtyard. Budget: $100 for all 24! I had to get creative–fast!

      Reply
  13. Carol

    Wow! These are fabulous and I love how you gathered up things from around the house to make them. Featuring when my link party opens up tonight!

    Reply
    • Diane

      Wow, Carol! Thanks bunches!!! They are fun to make and can be a family craft too!

      Reply
  14. Hairstyles

    Hi would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with? I’m going to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!

    Reply
    • Diane

      It’s WP, custom designed using Divi Builder. Thanks for the feedback.

      Reply
  15. Susan Stone

    I am so looking forward to creating this project with my young granddaughter. We were just talking last week about wanting to do crafting together. Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Diane

      This is a great project for the two of you to do. It’s like adult finger painting. Please send pics of your creations.

      Reply
  16. anna

    great love them

    Reply
    • Diane

      Thanks bunches, Anna!

      Reply

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