Molding Cement Number Plates with Mesa Artist Yolanda Esquer

Who says cement is only for sidewalks? Nobody did, really. But Mesa concrete artist Yolanda Esquer certainly proves such a statement wrong. Esquer creates and sells unique concrete blocks, among other things, and she showed us a do-it-yourself way to make address number plates. They're a great way to personalize any home, and making them is so easy that we didn't even get dirty.

See also: Printing Napkins with Cindy Iverson of Letterpress Central in Chandler Painting Plaid Walls with Kenny Barrett of GROWop Boutique in Phoenix

Materials: - Number mold (foam children's puzzle pieces used here) - Marble slab or any firm, flat surface to set cement on - Cement trowel (a sturdy spatula will work) - Approximately six cups of sand mix (Esquer uses Sakrete brand) - One cup of dry cement (Esquer uses Portland brand) - Large plastic bucket - Water (access to a hose works best)

Method: 1. Begin by mixing the cement. In the bucket, combine the sand and the dry cement. (The exact amount will vary depending on how much you want to make, but keep in mind that you will use much more sand than you will use cement). Stir the dry mixture inside the bucket before moving on to the next step.

2. Add water to the dry mixture. Be careful, though, and use a hose on a very low pressure to trickle in a small amount at a time. Mix the water thoroughly into the mixture before adding any more. As a guide, Esquer recommends getting the cement mixture to the consistency of soft-serve frozen yogurt.

3. Lay the number molds on top of the marble or other flat surface. If you are going to use the ground/floor for this step, be sure to cover it with thick plastic or several garbage bags to ensure that the cement will easily peel off.

4. Use the trowel or spatula to scoop the wet cement out of the bucket and press it into the number molds. Fill in the entire mold thoroughly, making sure not to leave open spaces. Tip: If you want the surface of your number to be smooth, dip your trowel in water and gently spread across the top.

5. Let the cement sit to dry in the mold. In the Arizona heat, Esquer says it should not take more than 24 hours. When you are ready to pull off the mold, it will peel off from the dried cement easily, but a knife can come in handy to help pry the number off of the flat surface. Hint: You don't have to wait until the cement is completely dry to peel off the mold -- it is thick enough that it will sit without losing its form. Go with your gut on this one.

6. Optional: You can paint your numbers before hanging them. Esquer says that it is most convenient to use spray paint. To hang them on an outdoor wall, use liquid nail adhesive.

7. Don't forget to clean off your number molds with a hose sooner rather than later. Dried cement is no fun if you want to use them again.

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