Design & DIY

An ingenious DIY solution to lighting rocky pathways

A solar stake light in a spherical cement mould. Photo by Daniel Ehrenworth

Solar stake lights are great for gently lighting a pathway—provided they can be stuck in the ground. But the path from my cottage to the water is mostly rock, which is tough going for plastic stakes. My initial solution was to build a tripod support. This worked okay, but on uneven surfaces the lights had a wonky lean. Then I remembered Weebles, the toy figures that “wobble but don’t fall down.” Their weighted, hemispherical base causes them to return upright when pushed over. My lights now behave the same way, using a cement base that’s weighty and weather resistant. I use these lights everywhere, including on the short trail out to our sunset-viewing spot and on the dock where they can be gathered up for winter storage.  

Any spherical container about four or five inches in diameter will work as a mould. Craft stores and cake decorating supply stores carry aluminum hemisphere moulds (for bath bombs or ball-shaped cakes) that are the right size and shape. Wipe the mould with vegetable oil, mix quick-setting cement according to the directions, and pour into the mould. After about 20 minutes, when the cement has stiffened up a bit, insert the path-light post into the centre. The post should sit about ½” from the bottom. Let the base cure for about 24 hours, then pop it out of the mould.

I used a plastic onion-keeper as my mould, and I also swapped half the water required for the cement with an acrylic fortifier. It helps achieve a smoother finish, improves curing, and helps reduce water penetration.

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