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!

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