Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Building with Papercrete and Paper Adobe: An excellent book.

I love this book.
It is a beautiful, inspirational compilation of information chock full of grainy b&w photographs of experimental papercrete and paper adobe structures, mixers, etc. There are valuable recipies, speculations, instructions, and considerations, all from guys who have been making stuff out of paper trash, sand, and cement or clay for years now .
Well worth the $32 plus shipping I paid for it.
I've seen used editions of this book on for as much $120.
But your brand new copy is a mere $32 plus shipping at

Monday, November 23, 2009

umbrella-gazebo garden structure 2 -- a work in progress

It doesn't look like much yet.
You can barely see the fence wire form, which is almost complete, in the bottom photograph.
All but the center post, which is just a 10 ft. 4x4, are made the same way as the armature for the totem pole shown in an earlier post. I had doubts about making the armature this way, thinking I had to wrap a whole 4x4 post with hardware cloth to get a sturdy armature, but the finished totem pole seems incredibly strong, and I was inspired to make the posts for this project the same way.
Especially since the "key stone" of this structure is the center post anyway.
On the papercrete post, the hardware cloth is tacked to a three foot piece of 4x4 with fence nails. The post extends into the hardware cloth tube approximately one foot, so there are two feet of bare wood at the bottom. The posts are then set so that the hardware cloth is about an inch above ground level. I can go directly over the hardware cloth with papercrete.
For the center support, I bored a hole in one end of the 4x4 just big and deep enough for what remained of the umbrella shaft. Once the post was set and the umbrella was in place, I drilled across in two directions and bolted the shaft in.
My plan is to cover the fence wire that makes up the rest of the armature with chickenwire and daub the papercrete on. The umbrella roof won't be covered with papercrete, but will need a few more coats of the latex-cement mixture.

Friday, November 20, 2009

papercrete gazebo structure with latex cement umbrella roof

So the neighbor was setting up her patio umbrella to sell at her yard sale and somehow broke the shaft.
And I kept thinking that, coated with latex cement (the same stuff with which I made the fly screen skirting for our mobile home as described in an earlier post) it would make a great dome-like roof for a small gazebo.
And so I gave her $5 for her broken umbrella and added a papercrete gazebo to my ever-growing "to do" list.
Naturally, I didn't photograph the umbrella before I coated it, but here it is after a couple of coats of latex cement.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

papercrete totem pole

So much for photographing my efforts step by step.
I started this totem pole during the heat of the summer and abandoned it for other projects. It's an experiment in that I tacked an eight foot hardware cloth "tube" to a three foot piece of 4x4 instead of wrapping the hardware cloth around a 10 foot post.

So the armature is basically a hollow tube of hardware cloth with two feet of wood at the bottom.
This made the totem pole less expensive to make.

I sculpted the faces with the armature laying under our big sycamore, and became worried it might crack under it's own weight when I tried to lift it. I could imagine it bending and breaking in the middle.
It held together well though.

I stuck it in the ground to finish the back, which meant more or less plastering it with papercrete and texturing it with an old butter knife.

When I made the bottom three faces, I tried mixing all the ingredients (cellulose insulation, cement, and joint compound) dry in a 5 gallon bucket, then adding water, the way you might mix cement. This worked okay, but the papercrete was a bit lumpy. The best mix so far is, using a two pound coffee can for measuring: 3 cans of pre-soaked cellulose insulation (pulverized paper), 1 can cement, 1/3 to 1/2 can powdered joint compound. These are "loose" measurements, I promise.
There is no need to add more water.
The thing about pre-soaking the insulation is you can add too much water initially. The insulation shouldn't be "floating" in the bucket, but setting in it as a big, wet lump. In case you do have too much water, you can just add a little more insulation to thicken the mixture.
The difference in coloration between the top and bottom of the pole is simply that the bottom faces have been curing for weeks, and the others are just days old.