More millstones and info

nmgirl(8 S.NM)February 3, 2008

As I promised, here's more photos.

I experimented with buff, red and black concrete colorant and added perlite to the dark grey stone to give it a flecked appearance.

The round stone with the sprinkler head in the center opening was my first one. I kept tripping over the head and decided I needed something to make me step up and over the sprinkler. I eventually settled on a millstone.

I checked real and cast ones online and after recovering from "sticker shock" decided that I could make my own. I decided some millstone research online,interesting topic BTW, and finally figured out what to use to cast and carve it. Little did I know that this would be such an addictive and rewarding project!

The first photo is of one of the pans I use to form the stones. I have two pans, they're both the same so I'm just showing one. The white gizmo on the chair at the bottom of the pan is the hose/drain attachment that comes with the pan, sometimes it's attached, sometimes not. If it's attached it's easy enough to remove. If you look in the middle right portion of the pan's rim you can see where I've used duct tape to cover the attachment hole. I've learned to cover the hole both inside and out otherwise you have a nice round bump on the cast stone. I also very lightly wipe the inside of the pan with petroleum grease before use. I use the $store version of Vaseline. You don't have to grease it every time, just often enough to keep that icky-kinda-sticky feel.

Making a millstone is a two day project. You need two back-to-back days to mold and carve a stone. After carving, the stones need to cure for a least a week before moving. It is also a heavy project. Please get or have help the first time you unmold one of these puppies and definitely have help moving it initially. After the stone is completely cured,several weeks, you can just roll it around but until then handle it gently.

Decide what pattern you want and have it worked out in your mind, on a piece of paper or somewhere, preferably before mixing the mortar. Once you start carving it's hard to change the design.

I've found that it takes one regular bag of mortar mix per stone. One bag will overfill the pan a little so I've either made small stepping stones to go under pots(I have a deviled egg platter that works really well for this!) or just left it a little over full.

Allow the mortar to set for 24 hours, then having your carving tools gathered, CAREFULLY unmold the stone and CARVE IT IMMEDIATELY!!!!! This is the voice of experience speaking here.

Realize that whatever tools you use to carve your stone will be very abused by the process. Don't use good tools, pick up old ones at thrift stores or wherever. I now have a "set" of tools I use for nothing but millstones. Also PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE wear leather gloves and eye protection when carving! Wearing a long sleeved shirt is also a good idea.

I think this covers the topic. If not please let me know!

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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

I should have mentioned:
Carving makes a real mess so be prepared.
Plan on allowing the carved stone to cure, without moving it, for at least a week. Green concrete is very fragile and as these things are heavy you run an excellent chance of breaking it if you move it too soon. After a week you can carefully move it, I usually set mine in their new home, but then allow it several more weeks to finish curing.
Do not expose green concrete to freezing temperatures!
: )

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 11:14AM
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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

I neglected to mention that I've drilled a small hole in the center of the drain pan, you can see it in the photo. This helps when unmolding by breaking the vacuum that's usually created when casting concrete. I drill a small hole in all the things I use for molding/casting concrete.
I knew I should have had another cup of coffee before starting this!

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 11:24AM
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Really like those millstones!

You can use less thick stuff to grease your pan, use motor oil, or even vegetable oil. You shouldn't get any sticking if you oil up the sides too.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 3:10PM
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TwoMonths(So Calif)

wow, thanks for posting and sharing your pics. I can use something like those for a walk thru my secret to find the time.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 3:32PM
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nmgirl: Love your stones! I, too, have been experimenting w/ making my own millstones and yours look very authentic!

Just want to clarify a couple of things and ask a couple, too. You are using "mortar mix" and not one of the other half dozen mixes on the shelf?
Is it 1 40lb bag per size form that you are using?
What is the diameter and depth of your form?
Are you carving out the square center, or using a block in the form itself (which is what I do).

Wish I could post pics of mine... but no digital camera. :(

    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 3:01PM
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They remind me of the stone on my grinding wheel.


    Bookmark   February 28, 2008 at 7:19PM
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Those are great millstones. Yep, I know that sticker shock too. I had seen a project where you can make a garden bubbler in the ground with a millstone. I absolutely loved the idea and sought out a millstone. Well, after seeing one at the local antique store for $90 I thought again....I still have NOT made that proejct but do have it in the back of my brain.

I've been making brick signs for rock formations on my 20 acres in the hills. I've used the mortar mix in the 8 lb box from Michaels (easier to carry and i always use a coupon. I have a plastic form that is the size of a regular old fashioned brick. I stamp the name into the concrete as it starts to set. I have about 6 more to make...Concrete is fun to work with...but definitely like anything else --you learn as you do...

Love, Jules

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 1:18AM
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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

Syl, I hope this helps.
Mortar mix: I use plain old mortar mix, the stuff used for brick laying. I use it for all my stepping stone projects.
I think the bags are 60 lbs.
The form is 22 inches in diameter by 3 inches deep.

I use a cardboard half gallon milk carton to form the center square. I slip it into one of those long skinny plastic bags that newspapers are delivered in. The bag makes it easier to remove the carton. I also fill the carton completely with water which helps it stand up to the weight of the mortar mix.

I've extended some of my flower beds this winter and need to make more "millstones". I'll take some step by step pictures for all of us visual learners.

Jules, your brick project sounds like fun! Are you planning on posting some photos? Hint, hint.

Have a great weekend!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 8:11AM
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nmgirl: thanks for the additional info. I can't wait for the temps to rise enough for me to get back out there and start messing around w/ crete and tufa projects.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 12:29PM
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Love the millstones! I saw a bubbling garden fountain too made with millstone. I was wondering how much they cost. After reading lots of stuff on working with concrete, I'm surprised it seems pretty easy to do. Now if I just had a yard to put such stuff in, I'd be happy!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 9:58PM
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Well, of course I can post those photos of those sign bricks. Believe me, they are NOT anything fancy. Just gray concrete with the name pressed into them.
Luna, well it SEEMS easy until you haul that mortar yourself! That is one of the main reasons I use the 8 Lb. Mortar (to make a stepping stone) from Michaels. So, I'm sure anyone who has ever worked with concrete can say that the thing you sacrifice is blood and sweat (and quite possibly a wretched back)! :-)
Ok, let's go and take those photos!
love, Jules

    Bookmark   March 1, 2008 at 10:52PM
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nmgirl, Your millstones are really, really very nice! Thank you so much for posting your photo's with all this great information for everyone! My DH and I made 2 large spheres this past week, and still working on the stands. Was pondering on making another and one of these stone would look great with a sphere in the middle! Also have checked the prices out on the web for these and know that this would be the answer to 'make one', (can't imaging what the shipping would be either lol); I also like to do 'crete-art' and like the above poster said concrete work can be/is lots of blood sweat and tears...but fun!
You really should post this on the Hypertufa Form, junk?? I don't think so...don't take this the wrong way fellow junkers I love this form, you are such happy people and I've required lots of great junk also! Have a good one Wendy

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 9:00PM
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OK nmgirl! Here's that photo. Like I said, it ain't all that whoop-tee-do. These bricks turned out way better than the ones I did with my sister. I still gotta make more. As they are named, those are what the rocks on my land look like. One makes up a wall behind a large oak tree. One looks like a turtle, another like an eagles head. Now, Impression Rock has what looks like a foot impression on the top of it. When it rains it is the size of a small childs foot even with toes--so hense the name Impression Rock. Foot Impression Rock was just WAY too long!
Rock Named Bricks
Love, Jules

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 1:08AM
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here's a website with photos of cast millstones... really very cool.


Here is a link that might be useful: Muddle Art

    Bookmark   February 5, 2009 at 8:18PM
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nmgirl(8 S.NM)

Those are very cool! Some of them are quite large, must be a job to move them. As soon as it warms up enough to start playing with concrete I have a few millstones on my to-do list.
Thanks for posting the link and for the new ideas!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 6:20AM
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Marlene Kindred

VERY cool Sylvia! They look very authentic too! Your hard work certainly paid off with a good looking product! Great job and thanks for sharing all of the instructions on how to make them!

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 9:44AM
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Those are great Sylvia. I saw them once before when you posted them. Thank you for posting the instructions. I don't like paying sticker price for things like that when I can figure out how to make them myself or someone else can tell or show me. Making my own is so much more rewarding as well as a lot cheaper. I can't wait for it to get warm enough to pour cement outside again. I might make some that are a little smaller since I have a 16 inch stepping stone mold. I have also been looking for other types of things to use for molds for useful things in the garden. I love the bubbler idea...that would be a cool way to do a birdbath.Now you guys have my mind running again.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 4:58PM
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tennesseetrash(7 east tenn)

WOW! I'm impressed! Looks like a lot of work, but great results! ~tenderlee

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 9:25PM
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