We first teased these DIY Doctor Who stepping stones two months ago (here), but they took a lot more trial and error than we expected! They’re finally done, and we think we’ve figured out the easiest way for you to make them yourselves…
Before we get into this quick tutorial: we missed you guys! We went on vacation to Roatan (Caribbean island awesomeness off the coast of Honduras), where we didn’t really have much internet access. You can see pics on our Instagram, if you’re curious. Basically this sums up our trip:
We <3 our ThinkGeek towel.
Anyway, let’s talk about Gallifreyan step stones. Because we made some! We tried A LOT of different techniques for this – different kinds of concrete, different ways to make patterns, and in the end we’re going with what is A) easiest, B) cheapest, and C) seems to look best. We initially started with a stepping stone kit. Cute, but not suitable for outdoor use. We moved onto Quikrete, which is cheap at Home Depot/Lowes. It worked, but the stones seemed rocky and the pattern got a little lost. Next we tried Portland cement+sand. Nice and smooth, crisp clean lines… but kind of looked like a kids project. We wanted a more “natural” look. So in the end we went back to Quikrete, worked out a different method, and we’re sticking with that.
What you need: Quikrete, gloves/mask, chicken wire, molds, random round things from around your house (cups, bowls, etc), something straight (we used paint stick), a pencil…
Tip one, learned the hard way: sift some of the larger rocks out of your Quikrete. That will help make it smoother. After that, mix the concrete as directed. It’s easy. We did mostly a 6-1 concrete-water mix, but adjusted as needed until the consistency was like thick brownie batter. WEAR GLOVES AND A MASK WHILE YOU DO ANY OF THIS. Concrete is no joke on your lungs and skin.
(Tip two: Spray a bit of Pam cooking type spray in your mold first, and the stones will be easier to get out)
Pour a little concrete into a stepping stone sized mold, but don’t fill it up yet. Our molds were the base of a planter (from Home Depot) and some cheap cake pans. Once it’s halfway full, STOP, put in a piece of chicken wire cut into a circle. This adds strength to the stone, or so we’re told. Once that’s in, add more concrete to cover the wire. Lightly shake the mold a little to get the concrete to settle.
While the concrete sets for a few minutes (meaning 1-2 hours), gather up a bunch of round stuff to make your Gallifreyen patterns. Cups, bowls, empty cans, small planters/pots, lids, etc. By now you should already know what you want to write in Gallifreyan. We used a free Android Gallifreyan app (which is a thing – there are also other translators online), and wrote our names, then Our, Nerd, Home, and Geek.
When the concrete is still wet, but juuuust starting to dry, that’s when you want to start stamping in your Gallifreyan patterns. If you do it too soon, the pattern drowns and fades away – if you wait too long, it gets rocky and weird. This took some experimenting to figure out.
We started with the largest circle, which for us was a small planter base. Lightly press the circle in, wiggle it around a little, and slowly lift it out. See?
Move right onto stamping the next circles in the pattern. Some patterns needed to have parts of the circle “erased”, so we just ran a wet, gloved finger over the concrete to smooth out specific areas. You can see in the background of this photo that we smoothed over an area.
For patterns that needed small dots, we used a pencil eraser. For patterns that needed straight lines, we used a paint stick and popsicle stick.
That’s it! Leave them alone to dry for a couple of days, then carefully turn the pans upside down to release the stepping stones. Once you get them in the ground, dirt will naturally add a nice extra emphasis to the pattern. 🙂
We recently had to let most of our grass die (LA drought), so are converting most of our yard to mulch and gravel. We’re thinking the new Doctor Who stepping stones walkway gives some much needed interest to the yard – plus we like that our non-geek friends will just think it’s a unique pattern, and not even know/care that it’s Gallifreyan. 🙂
What do you think? Anyone else geeking out their yard this summer?