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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Create Cement Lace Using Doilies and other Crochet Items


Skip the starch the next time you want to make something with doilies or any of those crocheted items you have laying around.  Instead, how about using a cement slurry to stiffen them up permanently?  You can create beautiful items for your home re-purposing doilies or other crocheted items (even knit hats!) into bowls, planters, Christmas ornaments, candle holder, wall hangings or anything else your heart desires.  I have to buy my doilies at estate sales, thrift stores and sometimes yard sales but if you are lucky to know how to crochet or know someone who does the possibilities are nearly endless for design ideas!
Cement lace bowl made with a doily
Cement lace bowl

Cement lace doily made from a doily
Cement lace bowl
Planter made with a crochet hat
Planter made with cement slurry and a crochet hat

If you are ready then let's get to work making some cement lace:-))  The ingredients for your cement lace:
1.  Doilies made from cotton or other absorbent material.  Items made from yarn, such as granny squares also work well. Another tip is to use doilies made with thicker "string" or thread for a firmer and stronger result.  Note:  doilies made from plastic, paper or other non-absorbent material will not work for this.

Make sure your doilies are clean and free from starch or other stiffeners.  Wash and allow to dry completely before you start this project.  You want the doilies to absorb as much of the cement as possible.  Here are just a few of the doilies I have used:


Crochet doily
Crochet doily
Crochet doily

Crochet doily

Crochet doilies

2.  Concrete bonding additive-this is sold by most of your home improvement and hardware stores usually by the concrete and cement products.  This is an important ingredient.
Concrete bonding additive
Concrete bonding additive
2.  Portland cement-not concrete mix or mortar mix-just plain portland cement.
Portland cement
Portland cement
3.  Water (the amount varies on certain conditions such as humidity, etc.)

Other items you will need:

1.  Dust mask (Always wear your dust mask when using cement products!)
2.  Fine sieve
3.  Measuring tool-I used a small plastic container
4.  Long gloves (This mixture is strong and will burn your arms if splashed on them-trust me!)
5.  Cooking spray or some other mold release
6.  Safety glasses (Always wear your safety glasses!)
7.  A sheet of plastic
8.  A paint brush
9.  Molds-plastic is my mold of choice since it is the easiest to work with.  Wood works well.  Glass and metal are just too difficult (sometimes impossible) to remove your cement piece from.
Supplies needed for making cement lace
The recipe for creating cement lace is:
5 parts sifted portland cement.
1 part concrete bonding additive.
enough water to make a pudding consistency.

Make sure that the area where you are working in is above 50 degrees but below 90 for both mixing and curing times.

The first step for creating your cement lace is to pick and prepare your containers (I prefer plastic and wood) Note: if you are concerned about the cement releasing then cover your molds with some type of plastic like shopping bags or saran wrap.

You can make any shape you want like bowls, or you can lay them flat to make ornaments or you can make planter shapes.  It is all up to you:-))  Lay them out on a sheet of plastic like this (it can get messy):
Crochet doilies
Crochet hat

When you have the shapes you want then spray your containers with mold release then wipe off the excess.  I like to use cooking spray:
Mold release for cement projects
 
The second step is to grab your measuring container and sift your 5 parts portland cement into your mixing tub with your sieve-you don't want any lumps:
Sift portland cement
 


 Throw away any hard lumps in to the garbage:


You want a fine powder with no lumps:

Third, add your 1 part (1 measuring container) concrete bonding additive.  You are creating a cement slurry:
Add concrete additive to sifted portland
 
Mix-at this point it will be very dry:
Add some water-not very much-about a half a part to begin with and mix.  If it is still dry add a little water at a time until you have the consistency of pudding.

Mix cement slurry
Place your lace doily in the cement slurry:
Place crochet doily in cement slurry
And coat it-push it in, flip it over, swish it around until it is completely soaked into the fabric:

Crochet doily covered in cement slurry
When it is completely soaked with the cement mixture pick it up and squeeze, wipe and shake off the excess.  Here is a short video on how to do it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dj9lbjza3Is

Lay it on the "mold".  Adjust the doily until you have it in the position you want.  Try to center it as much as possible then take an old paint brush and wipe off the excess cement if there is any:
Smooth out cement coated crochet doily
Repeat with any doilies you have.  If the cement mixture begins to look and feel dry mix a splash or two of concrete bonding additive in to bring it back to pudding consistency.

When you are done with all of your doilies they are now ready to cure:
Cement soaked crochet doilies
Let them sit until hardened.  This usually only takes about 12 hours (sometimes less):
Hard to the touch

Hard to the touch
After they have hardened they need to be misted then covered with plastic bags or a sheet of plastic for a minimum of one week.  Even though it is tempting-do not unmold them yet.  They are not completely set and may crack if you unmold them too early.  They need to cure and the cure is necessary to create strength and to ensure there is no cracking of the lace:
 Make sure they stay damp under the plastic-mist daily if necessary to keep them damp.
After at least a week you can uncover them and unmold them.  If you use plastic they should release fairly easily.  Do not force it from the mold-just work it off gently or tap it gently.  The more flexible the plastic the easier it is to release.

When they are unmolded allow the cement lace to "dry" for a couple more weeks.  This will allow the moisture to evaporate so that the sealant or paint that is applied bonds to the cement.  If the cement is not allowed to dry thoroughly the sealant and/or paint will not adhere and will peel off prematurely.

If you have a few rough spots on your cement lace gently sand with a sanding block-do not sand too much or you will remove the cement.

After a few weeks you can now paint your cement lace.  A quality spray paint such as Rustoleum Universal or Rustoleum 2 in 1 with primer work great and they are what I use but there are concrete paints out there that will work.  Quality craft paints will also work.  Just remember to seal your cement lace after painting or if you wish to use your cement lace for food purposes make sure to seal with a food safe sealer.
Here are a few I have painted up:
Painted Cement lace bowls
Crochet hat planter

Here they are put to use:
Cement lace bowl made from a doily

Cement lace bowl made from a doily

I hope my post has inspired you to re-purpose those doilies into an original and beautiful piece of home decor that will last.  Just remember that there are so many possibilities to what you can make using this idea so get out there and create something for yourself (or someone else)!  I would love to see your work so feel free to post pics in the comment section or you can post them on my Facebook page at this link: https://www.facebook.com/sproutsandstuff/ .

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.  I would love to hear from you!

Happy Gardening!  Rhonda

34 comments:

  1. What a great idea! Those are beautiful creations!

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    1. Thank you! They are fun to make too:-))

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  2. I cannot imagine how you (or someone else) figured this out! These are beautiful. What is a food safe sealant?

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    1. Thank you:-)) I work with cement, concrete and hypertufa and am always playing around to see what I can create. This was one of those creations that worked-I have had many failures but it is all fun.

      A food safe sealant would be any sealant used for areas that touch food or food prep areas-concrete countertop sealer should work for that purpose.

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  3. I love these! Was imagining what I could do before I finished the article. Thank you for the inspiration !!

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    1. You are welcome! I think the hardest part was trying to figure out what color to paint them:-))

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  4. Wow! Really great idea! I love it!

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  5. Replies
    1. I hope so:-)) They are a little messy but fun!

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  6. I decided to ask here.(Saw this on hometalk but it got a little too intense there). Just wondering if the cement breaks off of the lace easily or after some outdoor time happens? I love this look and can't wait until spring to try this.

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    1. The cement actually gets absorbed by the lace-the thicker the thread the better for strength and sturdiness. Excess cement not absorbed by the crochet string will chip of-but the actual doily will just crack (but hold together) I think it would have to be serious damage (run over, stepped on or dropped from a tall height) to completely fall apart. If it does crack you can take the cement recipe and use it to repair. Also-I would not leave these out in the winter. I don't know how freeze/thaw would be on them. Hope this helps and good luck!

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  7. Thank you for the detailed instructions! The Lowe's in my town has Masonry Bonding Agent. Is that the same as the Concrete Bonding Additive?

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  8. Thank you for the idea and for sharing!

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  9. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I hope you give this a try-it is fun:-))

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  10. Hi Rhonda! I'd love to cover this craft for the website LittleThings.com. Let me know if you'd be interested in participating in this article! I'm reachable at rebecca@littlethings.com

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  11. Thank you for publishing your blog about Waterproof concrete, it is very good for building construction and have more life validity than others.

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  12. Good video, thank you very much. I was wondering about the temperature for the cement to cure. It is Fall and the temperatures are falling, is that a factor? should I keep this process indoors when it is cold and rainy? thank you again

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    1. Temperature is important-you want it to be above 50 degrees for your cement to cure properly (there is an accelerator you can purchase for cold weather cement work that concrete workers use when temps are cold). Rain on the other hand will not have an effect on the cement. If it is chilly (below 50) you probably need to cure them indoors-I usually do this in my garage where it stays warmer than outside. Good luck!

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  13. beautiful, thank you for all your ideas - your are so creative!

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  14. what is concrete bonding additive?
    thank you

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  15. Hi! It is an acrylic liquid sold at most home stores that is used to add strength and improve curing of cement/concrete/hypertufa projects-especially thin walled pieces like these lace bowls. It also improves freeze/thaw performance such as birdbaths that are left outside in winter. Another reason I like to use acrylic bonder (also called admix) is to speed up set time in my projects. I highly recommend you add it to the cement to ensure your project turns out. Hope this answers your question.

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  16. Great idea definitely going to give this a try! Thanks for sharing. ☺

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  17. Love this idea. I both knit and crochet. Getting the doilies is no problem. I have 2 of my great-granddaughters, ages 13 and 11, coming to spend their Spring Break with me. Guess what one of our projects is going to be!!! Right, cement doily bowls! Can't hardly wait. Thank you soooo much for the idea and instructions.

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  18. Having read this I believed it was extremely enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and effort to put this content together.
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