diy: industrial concrete notepad

In Berlin my bank (Deutsche Bank) had a branch called “Bank der Zukunft” which means Bank of the Future. I loved it there as much as one can love going to the bank (which is a lot). There was everything from a champagne bar and coffe bar, to a rotating display of goods by different German designers which you could peruse and buy. That is where I got introduced to Betonware and purchased this skinny concrete note pad. Everybody who sees it thinks it’s so clever and more importantly I love staring at it on my desk. And I love concrete. One day when we return to the United States to Settle Down and Buy Something Permanent I hope it’s an industrial loft made of concrete. Until then I created my own version of the concrete notepad and you can too. I got the idea to spray paint the sides of the paper from this pin.

I love it so much I kind of want to start selling them!

Because we’re using fast-drying concrete it’s important to gather all your materials together in the beginning because time is not your friend. You are best off doing this outside and wearing gloves, but I did mine in my office without gloves (I spread out a huge piece of plastic for a work space). Mix together the proper ratio of cement and water(I went to our version of Home Depot and asked the guy where I could buy a small amount of cement mix that’s good for a craft project and didn’t require any special tools). To mix my cement I used an old Ikea bowl and spoon (they’re now my permanent cement bowl and spoon).My cement required one part water to 3 parts cement, and I used 3 cups of cement.

After it became the consistency of slightly melty ice cream I poured it into my mold. I used a styrofoam packing square that we had lying around, but whatever you use make sure it’s not important and can be pulled apart or is bendable plastic and you’ve oiled it first. After the cement has been poured, shake the mold a little so that the cement can settle, then drop it 10-20 times from about an inch up so the air bubbles can escape. Working quickly, clean your bowl and mixing spoon with paper towels (don’t try to rinse it down the drain, you’ll permanently clog your pipes). After the cement has started to harden but is still pliable, put your screw in (should be at least 3-4 inches), head-side down in the corner. You may have to hold it there while the cement hardens around it, being careful that it is straight. My cement claims that is as ‘hard as a rock’ in merely ten minutes but it took longer than that.

The next morning I broke up the styrofoam and voila, there was my concrete slab with a screw sticking out of it. The most tedious job of this project was punching holes in the cube paper (I bought plastic cube paper refills from the stationary store across the street). It took me about an hour and I listened to NPR.

To spray paint, take the stack of paper outside, put on a piece of paper or plastic, and place a rock on the top so they don’t fly around. Spray paint the sides, bring inside carefully, let dry and remove the top piece.

Put the stack of paper on the slab with the screw through their holes. Screw in the washer and the wingnut. Voila!

Optional: I taped off the tip and eraser of a pencil and spray painted it neon pink, just so the pad would have an equally cool writing utensil.

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