ONE HOUR DIY: Mortar + Concrete Bowls

Do you ever see something in a shop and think “I can make that?” I do that all too often (which is how I end up with a never ending project list). I hate seeing overpriced items that could easily be made for a fraction of the price. That is exactly how I feel about concrete bowls!

I finally decided to try making my own bowls. This was my first attempt at making a concrete or mortar bowl, but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy they really were to make! I started by making a bowl out of leftover mortar from a recent tile project. Here’s how I made them in less than one hour!

Gather Supplies

Below is the list of supplies I used for this project:

  • Mortar or Cement
  • Large Plastic Bowl
  • Small Plastic Bowl
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Rocks or Other Weight
  • Mixing Bowl for Mortar or Cement
  • Mixing Drill (optional)

Aside from the mortar and mixing tools, very little supplies are necessary to make the mortar bowls. I selected two different sized plastic bowls for the mold (I just used bowls that I already owned). The mortar will be poured into the larger bowls and the smaller bowls will be pressed into the mortar to shape the bowls.

Along with the bowls, I gathered a handful of rocks and some vegetable oil. That’s all you need to make the bowls!

Mix the Mortar or Cement

As I mentioned, I used mortar to make the first set of bowls. I mixed the mortar with water per the product instructions. At first, I mixed it by hand but decided to switch to my mixing drill (if you’ve got the tools, why not use them). I followed the exact same steps for the cement bowls, except I mixed the cement by hand.


Grease the Bowls

In order to ensure that the mortar and concrete will easily release from the plastic bowls once they are dry, I greased the bowls using vegetable oil. I greased the inside of the large bowls and the outside of the small bowls.


Pour the Mortar or Cement

Once the bowls were greased, it was time to pour the mortar or cement! I filled the large bowls about half way. I tapped the bowls on the ground a few times to settle the mortar and hopefully release any air bubbles.

I did discover that it was best to not touch the mortar once it was poured into the large bowl. This would ensure that the top rim of the bowl would be smooth.

Add the Small Bowl

Once the mortar or cement was settled, I added the smaller bowls. I gently pressed down on the small bowls ensuring that they remained in the center of the large bowls. The more you press the smaller bowls in, the thinner the cement or mortar bowl will be. I adjusted the depth of the smaller bowls until I thought the mortar was the shape I wanted.

With the small bowls in place, I added a handful of rocks to each small bowl. The rocks kept the bowls in place. Any other type of weighted object can be used in place of the rocks, it’s just important to keep the small bowls from moving.

Let the Mortar or Cement Cure

I allowed my bowls to cure for 24 hours before I touched them. After this time, I only removed the small bowls. They came out super easy, thanks to the vegetable oil.

It was easy to see the moisture that still remained with the cement bowls (below). I let the bowls cure for an additional 8 hours with the small bowls removed. After the 8 hours, I removed the mortar or cement bowls from the large plastic bowls. I placed them upside down and allowed them to cure for an additional 8 hours.

I noticed with the mortar bowls that they remained damp after the initial 24 hour cure time, hence the additional curing precautions.

Sand Rough Edges

Once the bowls were fully cured, I used my Gator sanding block to lightly sand the top rims. I did this with a 120 grit sanding block. The rough edges were very easily removed with little effort. I left the other surfaces of the bowls as they were.

Mortar vs. Cement Bowls

There were a few noticeable differences between the mortar bowls and concrete bowls. First of all, I used white mortar, so the mortar bowls were a nice white as opposed to the cement bowls which were grey. The other main difference was the weight of the bowls. The cement bowls were significantly heavier than the mortar bowls.

I was surprised that surfaces of both the mortar and cement bowls were smooth. When mixing the cement, I noticed that it was full of aggregate. I was afraid that I might have a few rough spots when I removed the concrete bowls from the molds, but that was not the case!


Decorate + Enjoy

I added my mortar bowl to the shiplap built-ins that I made. I styled them two different ways: with boxwood topiary balls and a candle with eucalyptus branches. Either way, I love how they turned out!

Save yourself some money and try your hand at making either mortar or cement bowls! You won’t be disappointed!