DIY: cement coffee cup planter

Fiddle and Spoon

Concrete is hands-down my latest most favourite DIY material (this week at least). It’s cheap, versatile and not nearly as scary to work with as I was expecting! This is a project that can easily be modified to suit your purpose and supplies. If you don’t drink as much coffee as I do, use a milk carton as a mould! If you don’t like succulents (you what!?) make a tealight candle holder! Oh, the possibilities.

You will need:

  • Pre-mixed concrete (unless you want to make your own: cement + sand + gravel!)
  • Containers for the planter — I put the used coffee cups hanging around my work desk to good use, but any container will do!
  • Smaller container for the centre
  • Something weighty to hold the centre container in place
  • Oil (optional)
  • Water
  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon-type-thing

Note: Anything the concrete touches will end up crunchy and gross. Don’t use anything you wouldn’t want to ruin, or you’re gonna have a bad time.

Your first job grease up the inside of your outer container, and the outside of your inner container. This is optional depending on your container—I found the oil made my cardboard coffee cup a bit soggy, but it worked well on plastic. If your container is something you can tear off (like cardboard), you won’t need to grease the sides.

Next, measure out some concrete in your bowl and mix with water, following the instructions on the back of the bag for quantities. My bag helpfully just said to “add water”, so I was pouring blind. Don’t be afraid to add a little bit at a time if your instructions are just as uncooperative, even if you’re using quick-set concrete. It doesn’t set as fast as you’d expect in small quantities, and if it does start to harden just add more water!

Pour your mixture into the outer mould and push your inner container into the centre. Fill it with something heavy to keep it weighted (gravel, in my case) and bang it gently on the ground to remove air bubbles. However much you want to, don’t poke at it or squeeze it while it dries! This—ahem—will cause the sides to crack and come apart, even once it’s completely dry.

Remove your containers, sand the edges and decorate your planter with sparkly things! Throw a succulent or a candle in there and step back to admire. Good job!

Some extra notes:

  • Don’t feel disheartened if your first batch turn out looking like mini abominations. If you’re not used to working with concrete, you’ll need to get a proper feel for the stuff by experimenting.
  • Choose your concrete wisely. My quick-set concrete was a good choice, but the huge bits of gravel did not make for attractive planters. I ended up using a sieve to remove the gravel and it made a huge difference.
  • Make sure you work outside in the open. Concrete is not for breathing! Keep it away from kids, pets and other things that might try to inhale it.

4 Comments

  1. Reply

    Marion

    April 13, 2015

    Love the planters! Which brand of gold paint did you use?

    • Jemima
      Reply

      Jemima

      April 20, 2015

      Thanks Marion! I had to dig through a few boxes, but finally found it: it’s Kaiser Colour in Metallic Gold :) x

  2. Reply

    Natasha

    February 24, 2016

    Hi Marion,
    How did you get the gold line to be so straight when the cup is angled. I am having trouble getting the painters tape to sit nicely as the cup gets slimmer towards the bottom. Any suggestions?

    • Jemima
      Reply

      Jemima

      March 1, 2016

      Hey Natasha,

      It’s tricky getting it straight! I just circled it tightly and pressed down along one side of the tape, and let the other side hang loosely. If you were planning on painting on both sides of the tape, maybe using two pieces would work best! (One tight along the top edge, a second piece tight along the bottom edge)

      I hope that makes sense!
      J x

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