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.

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