I was ready to put the concrete away and move on to other materials, when I saw some cute ring cones on Instagram, and it occurred to me that I could make my own DIY ring cones out of concrete. So of course I had to try it.
I’ve seen DIY ring cones made out of polymer clay that look nice, but they don’t have the weight of concrete. In my opinion, concrete is actually a much better substitute for the ceramic versions, which you’d need a kiln to make. And you’re not stuck with plain gray–you can paint your concrete however you’d like, or add some gold leaf.
After I had the idea to make concrete ring cones, this project took a lot of experimenting to get right. I wanted the finished cones to have as smooth of a surface as possible, with materials that are easy to get. So while you could do this by making a clay mold with a casting kit, that seemed like it would be way too involved for most people. I tried several different materials for the ring mold: craft foam sheets, a plastic cup, a paper cup, plastic shelf liner, a plastic folder, and maybe a few more I’m forgetting. Some were too stiff, and didn’t form a proper cone shape, while others left too big of a seam, or didn’t result in a smooth enough surface on the cone. But I finally realized that the answer was literally right in front of me: contact paper. Right in front of me because the marble background I use in a lot of my photos is actually marble contact paper, although I have some real marble pieces I sometimes use, too.
Concrete DIY Ring Cones
Quick-setting cement – I used Quikrete Quick-Setting Cement (No. 1240). It’s for repairs, so it’s smoother than other cements. Look for the number 1240 on the label if you’re unsure whether you have the right one.
Clear packing tape
Contact paper – I used this one, but any contact paper with a smooth, glossy surface should work.
Disposable mixing cup
Paper plate, or cardboard
This is the template I used for my ring cones.
If you want to make different sized ring cones, here are some options. The middle template is the same size as the one above, but there are slightly smaller and slightly larger versions so you can make multiple sizes if you want. Click for the full-sized file, and print at 100%. The straight edge of the template above, and the middle-sized template below, should be 2 7/8 inches.
X-acto knife, or razor blade
Heavy item as weight (optional)
1. Print out the cone template, cut it out, and trace it onto the contact paper. Cut it out, leaving the backing on the paper.
2. With the good side on the inside, pre-roll the contact paper cone into a cone shape, then very carefully tape the flat edges together with the packing tape. The more exactly you match up the edges, without overlapping them or leaving a gap, the more smooth your final ring cone will be.
3. You’ll need a place to leave your cone to dry with the pointed end down, so take a paper plate or sturdy piece of cardboard, and cut out a circle with about an inch diameter. Make sure to do a good job cutting out the circle, since if it’s lopsided or lumpy it can cause your ring cone to be misshapen. I made three ring cones at a time, so I cut out three holes around the center of a paper plate, leaving enough room in the center to set it on top of a cup to hold it up. But if you only want to make one or two, you can use a weight to hold down the other end of your plate or cardboard.
4. Mix up and pour your concrete. Start with the directions on the package, but for the best results, the following tips are important:
- Add the water to the cup first, then the concrete, and mix really well.
- The concrete mix should be pretty wet, about the consistency of pudding. A drier mix will result in holes, which you don’t want.
- Put a little bit of concrete in the cone, then shake and tap it until it’s flattened out before you add another scoop. The more shaking between scoops, the fewer bubbles you’ll end up with.
5. After you’ve filled your cones, put them in the cardboard holder, and smooth a piece of plastic wrap over the end. Let the concrete set for at least 12 hours.
6. After the concrete has set, carefully slice through the packing tape, and unmold your cones.
Your cones will have tiny seams down the back, and you may end up with some bubbles, but shaking your concrete a lot between additions should help eliminate them. If you do end up with big holes, you can always re-do them til you get cones you’re happy with–a $10 pail of concrete would be enough to make hundreds of ring cones.
If you don’t want plain gray cones, you can always paint them. I added a white tip to one, which gave it kind of a snow-capped mountain effect.
I also experimented with one of the earlier prototypes I made. First I painted it with white paint, let that dry, then added the pink tip, let that dry, and added the gold stripe.
Concrete kind of soaks up paint, for a matte effect, but a coat of glossy sealer would probably make it look more like ceramic. You could also add gold leaf, either on top of the paint, or directly on the concrete. Other ideas: stripes, splatter paint, or polka dots. Have fun!