Using Decorative Cement Mold Hints


What to look for in Backyard Garden Bird Baths

Lizard Birdbath

I found an article recently on what makes a good birdbath so I thought I could use some of the information to pass on to you. We sell so many birdbath molds as they are by far the most popular cement garden art items people purchase.

 A bird bath is one of the simplest ways to bring wild birds up near where everybody can get a good view of them. You can attract more species of birds with water than with a feeder as water is often more hard for birds to find than food. A bird bath is a simple idea, it is an artificial puddle on a pedestal made from a shallow, water filled basin for bathing and drinking. A birdbath is a strong attractor for wild birds, particularly so during hot summer months or droughts. A very shallow, gradually deepening birdbath located safe from predators, kept clean and freshened often with clean water to avoid contamination and mosquitoes may attract several various species of birds. Two inches of water in the middle is all that is needed for most backyard birds since they do not submerse their bodies, only dunking their wings to splash water on their backs.

What kind of birdbath is best?
Shallow
The depth of a bird bath is important. It should be no deeper than two to three inches at the center. It ought be even shallower at the edge so that a bird can ease its way in to the water, as they will not simply leap into deep water. If you already own a deep birdbath, it can be made shallow by adding rocks to the bottom.

Rough bottom
Birds don’t like slippery surfaces where they can lose their footing and they will pause before wading into a bath with a glazed, smooth or slippery bottom. If you already own a slick bottomed bird bath, you can add the non skid stickers or rocks.

Construction

A firm and stable platform for the birds works best. Also you should take into account the weather as the wind will blow over the resin ones and sun will bake the toxic chemicals right out of the plastic as well the winter will freeze and break almost anything. So a solid concrete birdbath will last you many years.

 Sound
The splash of moving water is an absolute attraction to birds. Bird ponds and waterfalls, along with water misters and drippers are made just for garden songbirds and there are many decorative alternatives for drippers, misters, fountains or water wigglers. Adding water movement or sound can dramatically increase the amount and variety of species that frequent an area.

Zen Birdbath

Where should a birdbath be located?
For bird bath placement, make sure that it is set in a space that is not where cats can hide. Cats like to lie in wait under shrubbery or lie in wait, hiding behind an object such as a garden ornament or statue, then jump on the birds once they’re wet and can’t fly easily. Locate a birdbath at least five to ten feet from hiding places.

At the same time, a bird bath should be located with a perching area nearby. After getting wet and cleaning themselves, songbirds will want to find a spot to perch, preen and fluff their feathers. A nearby tree or shrub is perfect for this, so long as the bottom limbs of the tree or shrub do not touch the ground allowing for predator hiding places,

Within reach of a hose
Make your birdbath in an area which is accessible to you when it is time to clean and refill. But place your bird bath at a distance from feeding stations, since seeds and droppings would soil the water rapidly and birds prefer to bathe away from activity. Change the water every few days, or even every day in hot weather. Pour it out or squirt it out with the hose. Brush out any algae that begins to form with a scrub brush.

Dragonfly Birdbath

Remember concrete is best !

Going Green with Concrete and Increase Sales

Backyardkitz Bench

SO how many of you have tried something other than plain old concrete mix in your decorative concrete molds? I am seeing and talking to more and more people creating a market niche for themselves by going green and using recycled materials in their concrete molds. They are saving themselves money on materials as well as marketing themselves as a Green Manufacturer. Customers are attracted to them and to their products.

SO what can I do to grow my business?

Papercrete: The recipe has been around almost 100 years. It is a light weight mix using 70% paper(almost any kind) with sand and cement. The paper is soaked in water and as it softens then ground or mashed up. Best to us a paint mixer attached to a drill in a 5 gallon bucket. The mix ratio is:

  • 3 parts Paper (The paper used can be almost anything; newspaper, junk mail, cardboard, etc.)
  • 2 parts clay/dirt and sand
  • 1 part Portland cement
  • Recycled Concrete Aggregate:  You know all those roads and buildings they tear down and haul away the concrete. How about reusing the aggregate in your concrete wet mix and put it back into a concrete bench or Buddha statue.  You can even purchase pre-mixed Green cement mixes so if they are doing it why not you?  You can even go as far as using rain water in your mix.

    Send me other ideas that you or others are doing out there!!

    Declare yourself GREEN and increase your decorative concrete sales!

    How Hard is it to Pour a Concrete Mold…..

    Well here is a topic I get asked all the time. How hard is it?
     
    My answer: As easy as baking a cake! You take some dry ingredients, add water, mix to right consistency, and then pour into a mold to set.. Ok the dry mix is a little heavier and you may use a shovel to mix it vs a spoon..but it is just as easy…
     
    Where to start?
    You will need the following:
    • Concrete Mix
        Use a  Sacrete or Quickcrete Concrete Mix ( with small stone). 
    • Mixing Bucket, wheel barrow, or mixer
    • Shovel to Mix with
    • Water
    • Lubricant -
      You will need to use a mold release. Castor oil or vegetable oil
      8 parts Denatured Alcohol & 2 parts Castor Oil

    Directions
    1.  Prepare Mold :
        Apply mold release with a fine spray on the mold and wipe
        it slightly with a cotton rag.

    2.  Mix Cement:
        Follow directions on the back of the bag. Your mix should be wet enough to a consistency of a stew. After a few   pours you will find ” A Recipe” that works for you, then stay with it.
        Mix very well. Mixture needs to be smooth, neither runny nor dry or lumpy but don’t MAKE IT SOUPY. 
        Be careful withe the last little bit of water as it can go from perfect to wet very quickly with a little water.

    3.  Pour cement into Mold:
        Pour half of the mold first. Now shake and tap  bottom & sides of the mold to eliminate all bubbles.
        Fill the rest of the mold up with your cement mixture.
        Shake and tap again until the top surface is flat and even.
        Keep mold in a dry area for 24 hours on a level surface.
        YOU CAN USE A RUBBER MALLET TO TAP THESE MOLDS 
         
    4. Unmold:
    Now comes the best part as you get to see you end product.  Turn the mold upside down onto a flat surface, and open up the fibreglass casing and remove the rubber. Be gentle with the concrete item as it will still be “green” and fragile. The concrete will take an additional 2 to 5 days to finish drying all the way through the item.
        
    5. Clean-up: 

    Keep your  molds clean. Wash with warm soapy water, rinse well.

    HAVE FUN…

    Business for the Economic Climate

    In today’s economic climate many homeowners are taking the time to enjoy their own properties rather then spending money on long trips or vacations. Since people are home they also want to make their homes a nicer place to allow themselves to get away from the negatives in the press these days. So why not a nice Zen garden, water fountain, or Gnome garden to freshen up a yard for themselves or for resale value of their property.
    Using decorative concrete can make these projects more affordable and using molds to make the items can be inexpensive. Business owners today involved with decorative concrete for retail or wholesale are having a successful business in these times. With summer coming to an end in Australia, many existing decorative concrete businesses were very successful. As USA, UK, and Canada come into spring the opportunity appears now for those looking for a startup business.

    Concrete molds can be done as a full time business or in your part-time to help make additional income. With some simple helpful booklets and a few trial molds anyone can turn spare time into cash. The video I recently added to my website http://www.backyardkitz.net/ shows you just how easy it can be.

    Evaluating A New Business Opportunity

    New Business Opportunity  - Decorative Concrete
    Now for those of you that have not started in the decorative concrete molding business, I thought maybe I could give you some help using the common points people use for evaluating almost any new business to evaluate using our concrete molds to make finished items.

    1. Will you enjoy it?

    One of the first questions you should ask yourself is would you enjoy making these fountains, gnomes, planters, birdbaths, etc. for your home and for others. Do you have a passion for gardening or a creative side that just likes to make beautiful items and sell to others? Do you mind getting your hands a little dirty mixing up a simple concrete recipe? When you enjoy something then you will be successful as it will show in your effort and your quality.

    2. Is the product in demand?

    Are you or your friends or family looking for new and original garden art for you yard? Are the garden centers and landscape companies looking for new suppliers for concrete items to sell? Is spring rolling around quickly and will people be looking to start fixing up their yards from a long winter? Ask round and you will find lots of Yes’ to these questions.

    3. Is it a stable company?

    The Cement Moulds and BackYard Kitz company has been around for over 12 years. We produce a very quality product that will last you along time.  We have shipping molds all across the world and have many referrals as well as country representatives in UK, USA, NZ, and Australia.

    4. Does the company offer support and training

    At CementMoulds we try and provide as much information as we can through printed booklets, forums, blogs, and newsletters. We also respond to all emails and phone calls for individual help as well. But it still takes you to go out and do it.

    5. Is it affordable?

    The investment in molds can be anywhere from $500 to $20,000 depending on your budget and what kind of business you want to start. If you just want a weekend hobby to make a few extra dollars then an investment of $500 to $2,000 might do good to start with. If you ware looking to make a part-time business then an investment of $2,000 to $6,000 in molds may work for you. If you want to make it a fulltime business and have a exclusive territory then a minimum investment of $10,000 would be required. At any amount you are getting your own business for a relatively small amount compared to most other businesses.

    6. Can you produce an income from it?

    Any business is what you make of it. I try and suggest to individuals that 50% of your time is used for making the garden art and 50% is out selling it. This could be at weekend markets and craft fairs or wholesale to garden centers.

    7. What is the profit margin?

    In my history of making and producing decorative concrete, a batch of concrete in my mixer costs me $5.00 of material (sand, stone, cement, and water). With this batch I can fill a series of 2 to 5 molds which retail for $250 to $400 worth of finished products.

    8. What are the setup costs?

    Most items you may already have in your garage or shop. I have just published an article in ezine on what is required to start up a decorative concrete mold business. Items include:

    • a. shovel
    • b. buckets
    • c. rags
    • d. brushes
    • e. Wilbur or mixer
    • f. rubber mallet, hammer, screwdriver, and pliers

    So as you can see costs are very low to start up a business in concrete molding

    9. How much effort is involved?

    Personally I can set-up, mix 2 batches of concrete, pour 10 to 20 molds, and clean-up in 2 to 3 hours. The come back the next day and demould and cleanup the finished items for another 2 hours. This could be an evening or weekend morning. I can then use the afternoon to go out and market the items at the weekend market every Sunday morning. This leaves me time to do other things that I want to do with my family.

    Conclusion:

    As a next step for you, I would suggest you take the numbered points above and use your own reasoning to evaluate a new business for yourself or your family. Please contact me if you need some help or have questions on how I can do it.

    What kind of molds to get for my Garden Art business?

    Posted in Decorative Concrete Business by CementMoldGuy on February 23, 2009

    Probably one of the most important pieces of equipment needed for your garden art business is your molds. Since I manufacture molds at www.cementmolds.com I thought I would give a quick summary of the types of molds available on the market today and their pluses and negatives.

    Aluminum Molds

    These are the most durable and have been around for many years. You can only find these used as no one is making them any more due to there cost. They are very strong but you don’t get some of the fine detail you get with others. If you have any, hang on to them as they are collectors items!

    ABS Plastic

    A hard plastic mold created with heat and a vacuum that pulls the plastic over a master. They can be durable and inexpensive, but are only 1 dimensional. So you can only produce flat pavers and stepping stones with a design on one surface of the mold.     

     Rubber

    There are many types of natural and artificial rubber used to make molds. Rubber starts as a liquid and is poured or sprayed over the three dimensional master to create the mold. Rubber is great as it is very flexible and easy to demould after pouring your concrete. It also picks up all the detail from the master, so if you have a bad original you get a bad mold, which then creates a bad finished product. 

    Now that you have the rubber mold, how do you support it to allow the concrete to form. Have you ever taken a ballon and filled it up with water, then set it on the counter. What happens does it change shape? Well the cheap rubber molds you can purchase on Ebay are exactly that. They expect you find something like your sandbox to fit the mold in and make it still look good with no bulges or indents. How do you shake or tap the trapped air bubbles out of the mold if it is in sand?

    Well how about a custom fit fibreglass casing that wraps the rubber as well as has feet to allow it to stand up on it’s own so you can pour the concrete right in the mold, shake it, and move around your work space to dry?

    What about expense? Yes you pay more for the rubber with fibreglass casings, but you should be able to get your investment back by selling 4 or 5 finsihed items. In other words take the price of the mold an divide by 4 to get you retail price of the garden art.

     So remember  a quality mold produces a qulaity product. Having quality products put more money in your pocket for the same effort (maybe even easier) !!


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