Early on in my custom brick making experience I relied heavily on experimentation to fine tune my concrete brick recipe.
As my experiments grew in number, so did the weight of my trash can.
I struggled to find information on small batch concrete recipes, wet to dry ratios, concrete additives, and proper concrete tint amounts that fit my insanely small business needs. Usually, leftover concrete brick mix would end up being flung into the bottom of a spare 5 gallon bucket. As the bucket became heavier and heavier, I’d have to try and lift it enough to reach the top of the garbage can to dump the massive concrete lump inside, and that became a dangerous chore and a huge waste of product. I knew there had to be a way to use up the tiny globs of my hand-tinted concrete mix, so that it wasn’t being thrown away at all.
At first I considered making the extra material into tiny concrete pots, but the local maker scene in Phoenix was already saturated with handmade concrete pots and candle holders and I saw no value in providing another version. Wanting to try a smaller, more lightweight product to offer an alternative to my bulky bricks, I settled on magnets and found my first silicone mold to test with.
It is a rather complicated mold with multiple wells, and I wasn’t sure it would come clean or last long enough with the scratchy texture of concrete, but –for science– I tested it out. Not only did the first run turn out incredibly well, but over time, the slight color transfer that occurs between color batches makes for an incredibly unique concrete finish, and each magnet turns out differently. So far, the molds have held up perfectly, even after hundreds and hundreds of magnets made.
Now, when I do mix a slightly oversized batch of concrete brick mix, I recycle that tinted concrete material into the molds, remove them once cured, seal them with a concrete sealant, and epoxy a heavy-duty ceramic magnet onto the back of each one.
The cactus magnets even became part of my most popular concrete brick design, as an inlay alongside custom stamped text.
These magnets, although designed to be a waste-eliminator, have been used as creative bridal shower favors, employee gifts, event sponsor thank you tokens, and more. Perhaps more importantly, these magnets have provided purpose to over a hundred pounds of concrete waste in the last few years!