A few days ago I stumbled across the beautiful Weight Vases by a young Thai designer Decha Archjananun who developed them while attending the Ecole Cantonale d’art de Lausanne in Switzerland. These creations are elegant, raw and smart - the steel part holds the flower stems and the concrete contains water while providing stability to the piece.
Decha is at the forefront of this year's great trend, cast concrete. And while his vases and many other ones made of the same material are available for purchase, they are surprisingly easy and very rewarding to make, which is exactly what you will learn to do in this post!
The very talented Ben Uyeda's HomeMade Modern among other gems, has printable templates of Bloktagons, faceted geometric forms that are a popular trend themselves - we will be using some of them in this project. The ones I used are called Big Emily and Lil Emily, but there are 7 other shapes to choose from on HMM website, so feel free to use different templates!
Here is a list of materials and tools needed:
- Concrete - pick it depending on the feel that you are for: a more industrial, rough look will be achieved by using a more coarse mix; smoother and more finished look will require using fine mix free of sand and rocks.
- Rigid Paper - we will use it to make molds to pour concrete in; 8.5" x 11" for this project and the type, again, depends on the final look you want: cardstock (use at least 110lb. weight) will make the finished vase look rougher, glossy photo paper - smoother.
- Craft Glue - we will use it to put the molds together
- House Paint - for sealing the exterior of the mold to make sure concrete doesn't seep through the seams; you'll only need a bit, High Gloss or Eggshell finishes work best.
- Pigment - this one is optional, I used it to give a project a special touch; pigments specifically for concrete usually come in quantities way bigger then you would need for this project, so you can use anything water-soluble like fabric dye or food coloring.
- Cutting tool - sharp scissors or paper knife to cut mold paper
- Printer - keep in mind the type of printer you have when buying paper. While it doesn't matter much for cardstock, photo paper is usually specific to either inkjet or laser.
- Ruler - this project requires folding paper - use a sturdy thin metal ruler to score those lines.
- Paint Brush - to seal the mold with paint
- Mixing Bowl - to prepare your concrete mix; metal or ceramic is best.
- Wooden Dowel - use a dowel of a desired thickness or a pencil to create the void in the vase.
- Grease - we will need to apply this to the dowels before inserting it into the poured concrete to prevent bonding, so it will come out easily when the vase dries; cooking spray will do just fine.
Once you gather all your tools and supplies, the fun part begins:
1. Download and print the templates - notice that there are directions on them already. If you are using glossy photo paper, print on the back of it so the glossy texture is untouched.
2. Cut the templates out.
3. Follow Ben's great directions on folding and gluing to put the mold together. If using photo paper, make sure the glossy texture is on the inside and the printed side is facing outwards, so there are no flaps glued together inside the mold.
4. Paint the outside of the mold - make sure you protect your work surface.
5. Mix your concrete according to the directions on the package (usually it is a 1:2 water to cement ratio, but add as much water as you will need to make it workable). I used 2 cups for Big Emily and 1 cup for Lil Emily.
6. Add pigment if you want. Remember that the intensity of the shade will depend on the dosage you use, so go easy on it to start with.
7. Pour concrete into the mold, grease up the dowel and then insert it halfway into the vase to make room for water and stems that will be in it later.
8. Let concrete cure. This is where you will need to be patient, it will take about 3 days for the vase to be dry enough to be used. I made these on a Friday and left them over the weekend.
9. Use a paper knife to remove the mold and enjoy your new vase.
I filled mine with aspen tree branches painted with Pantone's Radiant Orchid color of the year.