Add Sparkle to Your Meditation! A DIY Cement Project
When you're trying to start a new practice or revitalize an existing one, it can be more fulfilling when you incorporate something you've created with your own hands. Candle-lighting for a lot of ceremonies and meaningful events is nothing new. We love the mystical qualities of the candle flame and lighting one with intention seems to imply we're devoted to our act. This holds true for a few moments we take out of our day to give to ourselves in the form of meditation. A holder you've made yourself simply makes things extra special.
The simple act of lighting a candle is also a little switch you hit on your mind to tell it it's time to get ready to meditate and this act alone usually begins to slow your heart rate. I love little flames because they remind me of the little light within—this little light of mine.
Whether you're new to or well experienced with meditation, I want to let you know about the app called Insight Timer. My friends are sick of hearing me talk about this app, but I really love it and because I love you, I have to at least let you know about it. If it's not right for you, no worries. Here is what I love about it.
- You can use it as a timer, set to any length of time. (I've used this for as little as two minutes and as many as 20.) You can listen to silence or to a number of lovely background sounds. My favorites are Moonlight, Zen Guitar, Raindrops and occasionally Angel Choir. You can also add as many interval bells as you like, which I think is really cool because I'm currently using a practice that divides my 20-min session into four segments—a different focus for each.
- You can search from over 5,000 guided meditations! You can search by keyword or category and always find the topic/focus you're in need of. A bookmark feature allows you to save meditations that sound interesting to you, but which you may not want to listen to at that time.
- It keeps track of your sessions and gives you pats on the back for meditating consistent days in a row. Tomorrow will be my 100th day! If you miss a day, it starts over, so I'm very motivated to not loose my milestones.
- You can see who around the globe is meditating at the same time you are and thank others for meditating along with you.
If you do decide to try the app and join the community, feel free to add me as a friend. :-)
OK, let's move on to the project. If you've not worked with cement before, this is a great way to try it out, as this project is small. The metallic leaf embellishment is not mandatory, but it sure is pretty and adds a bit of extra sparkle to your magical moment.
I've always wanted to have a set of small holders of varying heights, so that's why I created three holders in this project. But a single one of these is just as beautiful and powerful, and starting off with just one is a good way to begin playing with cement. So, let's get to it!
What You Need
- artist’s tape, 3/4” (19mm)
- cement (I like All-Crete High Performance Cement)
- cement pigment, optional
- craft glue
- craft knife
- craft sticks
- container of water
- cutting mat
- disposable plastic drinking cups
- dust mask
- masking tape (I use blue painter’s tape)
- metal ruler
- metallic leaf products (I used Mona Lisa brand by Speedball):
- Simple Leaf (I used silver)
- adhesive sizing
- needle-nose plier
- paintbrush, inexpensive
- plastic bowl, dedicated to mixing cement
- sandwich bag
- scrap cardboard, such as a cereal box
- spray adhesive or glue stick
- tea light
- waxed paper
- wet sandpaper, extra fine (600 grit)
A note about cement:
While many of us, myself included, often use the terms cement and concrete interchangeably, technically, cement is an ingredient in concrete. Portland cement ("cement" for short) is mixed with water to form a paste and then combined with sand, gravel and/or other materials to create concrete. My very first experiments with cement were completed using Robert Dancik's Solid Expressions Concrete. For small projects, this product is top-notch and a dream to work with. I love Solid Expressions. But when I wanted to try larger stuff, I needed a more economical solution for experimenting and playing with things on a larger scale. I told a worker at Lowe's Home Improvement that I wanted to make artful things with cement and asked what he recommended. He referred me to All-Crete which from what I can tell is made/sold by the company that manufactures Quikrete. However, All-Crete appears to be sold exclusively at Lowe's and even then it's restricted to AZ, CA, IL, IN, NV and WA. I'm sorry I don't have a recommendation for other alternatives, but I did try using plain old Quickrete once and I did not have good results. Perhaps it's simply not made for creative works. If you can't find All-Crete near you, try some of Robert's cement mentioned above, or maybe see if you can find something with "high performance" in the name?
This first part is optional. If you want your finished cement to have a nice, rugged/distressed feel to it, one way is to add some dried bits of cured cement (what I call chippy texture). You can see this texture on the tops of my finished holders. My color is very subtle, but it's slightly more "brick" than the grey cement. If you wish, you can skip this part and go directly to step 6.
The way to create the recess in our holder(s) that holes a tea light, is to create a positive space to put at the bottom of each cement form, that we'll then remove once the cement has cured. The easiest way to do this is with a candle itself. But we don't want the recess to be exactly the size of a tea light or it will be too snug and difficult to place a tea light. So, we're going to wrap a candle in tape to bulk it up a little.
It's now time to create our cement forms. The viscosity of mixed wet cement is such that it likes sticking together and doesn't work hard to get into every nook and cranny without a bit of jiggling and tapping. So the good thing about this is that your form need not be watertight. This opens you up to easily be able to build forms from a wide variety of materials. Most of the projects I've made with cement have been created using paper/cardboard forms. That's what we're going to do here. My three forms were: 2" x 2" x 1" (5cm x 5cm x 3cm); 2" x 2" x 2" (5cm x 5cm x 5cm) and 2" x 2" x 3" (5cm x 5cm x 8cm). Create any size(s) you like, but keep in mind you want these small for ease of mixing/pouring.
Use masking tape to secure the sides of the form(s) together. If your form(s) are taller than 1" (3cm) such as two of mine are, leave one side open for easy access to adhering your tea light. Again, don't be too worried about covering the entire length of the seam. Just be sure each join is snug.
Remember the chippy texture? Here's where we'll add it. You can experiment with mixing some of it in with the regular cement, but I find it doesn't like to migrate out to the edges much. Though with my largest form, it did. Just know it's not a sure thing and have fun with whatever happens. What does work nicely is to place it at the bottom of the form. This will be the top of the candle holder and it looks great there.
You can now consider your beautiful cement holders complete, or . . . you can now begin the process of adding a bit of sparkle to your pieces, with metallic leaf.
I hope you had fun with this project. What are your favorite tools for meditation? Feel free to add your input in the comments section.