From dated decor to DIY concrete garden statue

Turn a piece of dated decor into a concrete garden statue with a little cement skim coat.

DIY concrete garden statue made from a paper mache chicken and a skimcoat of cement

That’s what I did with this guy. Underneath the concrete, he’s a paper mache chicken. I bought him at a thrift store where you pay by the pound, and since he’s feather light, he barely cost me anything.

Paper mache chicken

Materials for a DIY concrete garden statue

Here’s the list of the materials I used to make my DIY concrete garden statue:

  • Paper mache chicken
  • TEC PerfectFinish Skim Coat
  • Water
  • Disposable container
  • Popsicle stick or paint stick
  • Latex gloves
  • Two metal disks (for eyes)
  • Sandpaper
  • Clear furniture wax

The skim coat

I used TEC PerfectFinish Skim Coat for cement. In the past I’ve used Henry FeatherFinish for similar projects, like my concrete pumpkins. The only reason I switched brands was because I went to Menard’s this time instead of Home Depot, and the two stores sell different product lines.

TEC PerfectFinish Skim Coat used to make a DIY concrete garden statue

I didn’t notice any difference between the two brands. They’re both super simple to use. You just add water to the product and stir.

Mixing water with TEC PerfectFinish Skim Coat

I used my fingers to spread the cement onto the chicken.

Making a DIY concrete garden statue

This was a messy job, so I wore latex gloves. (I don’t mind getting dirty, but I didn’t want to clog my drain with cement when I washed my hands afterward.)

Applying cement to a paper mache chicken to make a DIY concrete garden statue

Here’s what my chicken looked like after I had him all coated:

Paper mache chicken with cement skim coat

And here’s what he looked like after the cement had hardened:

Cement skimcoat hardened on DIY concrete garden statue

Sanding and a second coat

The chicken ended up with a lot of bumps and ridges on him, so I sanded him with 120-grit sandpaper.

Sanding the ridges off the concrete chicken statue

Unfortunately my skim coat was pretty thin, so there were parts where I sanded right through to the paper mache.

Concrete chicken statue after sanding

To cover those areas, I mixed up a second coat of cement and smoothed it on.

Applying second coat of cement to DIY concrete garden statue

I concentrated on the bare spots but spread the cement out over the entire chicken. I also dipped my fingers in water and ran them over any ridges to get the coating as smooth as possible.

Chicken statue after second coat of cement

Next, I grabbed a couple of small metal disks …

Two small metal disks in woman's hand

… and pressed them onto the chicken’s face where his eyes would be.

Concrete chicken with metal disks as eyes

Here’s what he looked like after the second coat had hardened and his eyes had dried into the concrete:

Concrete chicken with metal disks as eyes

I decided his eyes should be black, so I painted the disks with some acrylic craft point at this point. Then I gave him another light sanding.

Concrete chicken with eyes painted black

Adding a coat of wax

Finally, I gave him a clear coat of furniture wax. I’m not sure if concrete needs a protective coating. My thought was that since I would be handling him occasionally, the wax would prevent the oil from my hands from causing any discoloration.

Waxing DIY concrete garden sculpture

The wax made him really dark at first.

DIY concrete garden sculpture chicken after waxing

As it was absorbed, his color lightened up. The picture below was taken about 10 minutes after I had applied the wax. You can see there are just a few patches where the wax hadn’t soaked in yet.

Concrete chicken with furniture wax applied

After the wax was all absorbed, I did a light buffing and called him done. The wax made the concrete really smooth to the touch.

The completed DIY concrete garden statue

DIY concrete garden sculpture

The white streaks in the concrete are where wax had settled. I could have wiped it off with a Q-tip or scraped it off with my fingernail, but I liked the color variation, so I left it. In fact, I even toyed with the idea of adding a coat of white wax to make the variation more pronounced, but in the end, I decided I liked him just as he was.

DIY concrete garden statue

I have my chicken sitting among the plants inside my screen porch, so he’s mostly protected from the elements. I’m not sure how well he’d do outdoors in the wind and the rain.

What do you think? Have you ever skim coated anything in concrete? And if so, does it hold up to the elements? Let me know in the comments below.


5 Replies to “From dated decor to DIY concrete garden statue”

  1. He is awesome!
    Never done skim coat but you make me want to try it on something.
    Keep on “project”ing – they’re inspirational.

  2. WOW!!!!!! He looks amazing. I would never have thought he started out as a little green paper mache chicken.

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