Today we’re making a cement planter DIY that utilizes a plastic baseball straight from the dollar store!
We were inspired to upcycle this kid’s baseball mitt found at Value Village. And with baseball season stretching from March to October, this indoor cement planter is timely! It makes a great gift idea for any season or occasion.
Cement Planter DIY
This is my first cement planter project. So if you haven’t worked with cement before, I hope you’ll give it a try too! You know what they say in baseball: never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing in the game! Same goes for crafting cement baseballs :).
Before we get into gathering materials for the cement planter DIY, don’t forget to get your craft mojo on at Birdz of a Feather and subscribe to our newsletter:
I’ve always wondered what the best cement is for crafting so did a lot of reading before attempting my first project. If you’re interested in the definitive word on the subject, I defer to Artsy Pretty Plants for the Ultimate Guide to Concrete Crafts Mixes and Sealers.
Materials for Cement Planter DIY
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- Plastic baseballs
- Rapid Set Cement All
- Cylindrical container
- Utility knife
- Electrical tape
- 1 1/2″ mini planter pot (optional)
- Water bottle
- Mask (to prevent inhalation of dry cement)
For this project you will first need these hard plastic balls to make the cement craft mold to cast in. Hopefully you can find them at your local dollar store too.
You’ll also need a tiny planter pot. Together they’re going to make the cutest little cement planter.
Watch this video to see it unfold or continue to the tutorial below.
Prep Work for Cement Planter DIY
Callipers makes measuring the tiny pot so easy. Make sure to measure down from the rim so you will have a lip the pot can rest on once the cement is cast.
Once you have the diameter, find a cylindrical container that’s the same size so you can use it to displace the cement. The cylinder will leave a depression the pot can rest in. I found this little squeeze bottle. You’ll see why it’s wrapped with electrical tape later.
Use the bottom of the cyclinder to trace a circle on the top and bottom of the ball. There’s a seam running horizontally through the middle so try to keep these two circles fairly straight up and down.
Cut Holes in the Ball
Make sure you have a new sharp blade. Did you know that accidents happen when the blade is dull?! Insert the tip of the utility knife into the ball and cut out the circle. Be very careful when cutting the plastic. Always point the blade away from you and keep the hand holding the ball behind the blade. If you press too hard the resistance could cause the blade to slip out suddenly. So don’t apply too much pressure.
When I got back to the beginning, I didn’t cut all the way through; I left a hinge.
Cut the Middle Seam
Do the same to cut on the middle seam of the ball. You’ll probably find that there’s a tiny hole somewhere along the seam (that’s how it’s vacuum formed). Just insert your blade tip into the hole and gently wriggle it back and forth to get started. Until you get half way around, you’ll find it a little more difficult to cut because the seam will want to stay closed, putting pressure on the blade. Once you’re past the second half, it becomes much easier!
Here’s what you’ll end up with after cutting through the middle.
I left the holes with a hinge because it will help hold the funnel and cylinder in place during the pour.
As shown below (middle), wind on four rounds of any thick tape around the top of the cylinder. I used electrical tape but I find it does tend to ‘melt’ in humid weather! Although the cylinder fits tightly to the hole in the ball, the tape will help bridge any gaps.
I forgot to show this on the video, but grease the inside of the ball halves and also the tube (as far as the tape). I used vaseline but you can probably use oil if you don’t have vaseline. It’s necessary to help you release the mold after casting the cement.
Seal up Your Cement Planter Mold
Make sure the tiny pot fits in the hole. Apply 3 strips of electrical tape around the horizontal cut seam to bring the two edges together. Electrical tape has stretch so you can pull the edges together tightly. I find that blue tape has stretch as well. Either way, apply one long strip of tape around the seam.
Insert the cylinder through the hole in the centre. Make sure it’s around 3/4″ shy of the hole at the other end to form a solid plug around the cylinder after it’s cast.
Instead of taping the tube to the ball, I applied some putty all the way around (the kind you use to tack things in the office). Once poured this part acts as the top where the planter goes. However, turn it upside down – because this will be the bottom when you pour the cement.
If you can see any gaps on the inside of the ball, add some blue tape as shown to further bring the two pieces together. You want it as tight as you can get it so the cement can’t ooze out through the horizontal cut.
This is how it should look ready for cement. There should be enough room between the bottom of the tube and top of the ball to allow for good flow of the cement once it’s poured into the top.
About the Set Up
At this point you might be scratching your head wondering why I cut two holes into the ball and inserted the tube ‘upside down’. I did try cutting only one hole in the top and inserting the tube after adding cement. But it’s difficult to tell if the ball is properly filled with cement after the tube is inserted. Also I found the force of air pressure in inserting the tube causes the sides to deform/bow out and ooze cement.
By doing it this way, there’s no guessing. After working the cement around the tube, you’ll be able to see that it’s full when it’s level with the top. The added bonus is that you’ll have a flat spot on the bottom so the planter doesn’t roll.
We actually did three tries before we got this project perfect. Luckily it didn’t end up being three ‘strikes’. I guess third time’s a charm! Everything is explained in the video below.
Make a Funnel and Stabilizer
Cut a water bottle in half – you’ll use both halves. Use the top half of the water bottle to act as a funnel while pouring the cement into the hole in the top of the ball. You can cut flanges, like I did below, or leave it as-is.
Rest the now upside down cylinder/ball combination in the bottom half of the water bottle. This will help stabilize it as you pour.
Ready to Cast
Get all your supplies ready to go: Rapid Set Cement All, gloves, mask, stir stick, containers for mixing, baseball mold and measuring cup. This stuff sets up really fast so you have to work just as fast.
Mix 1 part water to 4 parts cement. For this project I used 2 ounces of water and 8 ounces of Rapid Set Cement All. Put the water into the container first and then add the cement. Stir for about a minute until all the powder incorporates. Immediately pour the cement through the funnel into the mold.
You might notice in the video that the consistency of the cement was just right on the first pour but a little too thick on our last pour. Measure more accurately than I did for better consistency!
Tap the sides to release air bubbles and let it set up for about 1 – 2 hours.
Tip #1: Instead of tapping to minimize air bubbles, run a sander (without sandpaper) up against the side of the container. That will help vibrate the bubbles to the surface and leave a smoother finish.
Tip #2: the cement heats up as it cures. To help with dry time, unscrew the top of the tube (if using a similar one) to allow air flow to cool the centre of the ball.
Remove the tape and centre tube. The vaseline allows the tube and the plastic ball to release easily.
With some cleanup, you’ll be able to reuse the form again and again.
You can sand the seam if you wish. I wasn’t too fussed about it; I love the rustic look of the seam and even the air bubbles. A Dremel with a sanding attachment would make sanding even faster; just be cautious not to sand too much! It could ‘polish’ the cement leaving you with a shiny patch.
Paint the Lacing of the Baseball
At this point, you can leave the cement as-is and add your tiny plot and a plant. This is an air plant, but you could easily add a tiny succulent and plant some dirt. Remove the little pot when you water and let it drain before you return it to the cement planter.
Also, you can highlight the lacing with red paint. I practiced the technique first on one of my flubs (you’ll see what we did with the other one below).
Hubs rolls up a piece of cotton rag and ties it tight with an elastic. This acts as a dabber. Dab into red paint and then dab off onto a paper towel so it isn’t too wet. Lightly swipe it across the lacing feature. I use a light touch to keep it faint but you can darken it more if you wish by adding another coat.
Here’s another one of our flubs. Nothing goes to waste around here. The half ball is perfect for propagating a new baby succulent!
So what do you think of our very first cement planter DIY?
I think it’s a home run that will satisfy sports fans and plant lovers alike. It’s also suitable for either a child or adult space; just switch up the baseball mitt.
The Rapid Set Cement All dries so fast, you could easily make them in groupings!
If you’re interested in learning more about cement craft, don’t forget to check out Artsy Pretty Plants’ just published e-book called the Ultimate Guide To Concrete Crafts Mixes and Sealers. It tells you everything you need to know about cement craft – all the tips, tricks and troubleshooting!
You’ll find more of our unique planter ideas here.
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