Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Papercrete Gazebo 12

Yesterday I poured half of the concrete floor. I started out with a formula for concrete I found online: 1 - 2 - 3. That is, one part Portland cement, two parts sand, three parts coarse aggregate. I was using the large gravel I have on hand rather than the pea gravel I've seen in bags of concrete mix, and ended by mixing 1 - 2 - 2, which made it easier to smooth. Having jumped the gun and not even made a footing for this structure, I dug out from under the walls and shoved concrete under there as well so that the papercrete isn't setting directly on the ground. I got to use my Harbor Freight cement mixer, which is still hard work but easdier than mixing so much concrete in a wheelbarrow with a hoe. I used coffee cans to measure my ingredients. Mixing it 2 - 4 - 4, it took four batches to pour half the floor. I'm hoping I can pour the other half Friday.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blues For Breakfast -- polymer sculpture

The sculpture has been setting around a little while. I finally repainted her and mounted her on a board. The miserable heat outside is still forcing me to catch up on some inside projects.
Her bed and guitar are not polymer clay but are cut from Luan wood. The mattress is a piece of Luan covered with linen (stuffed with a polymer filler) and coated with white glue and water for stiffness.
I've been wanted to work on papercrete projects, but I swear it's either too hot (and humid) (heat + humidity = "heat index," which has generally a good ten degrees above the actual temperature), or it's raining. We've had heat index temps as high as 108. This has got to be one of the hottest, wettest summers on record down here in good old South Carolina.
Only the mosquitoes are happy.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Polymer Sculpture: Bus Stop, Bukowski, Dylan

Polymer Sculpture: New American Gothic, Mama Drama, Little Nude

Polymer Sculpture: Piedmont Blues, Fat Tuesday, Fiesta

I took my webpage off line (money, money, money) but still wanted some photos of polymer sculptues available online. These are rather old. I'll be posting some more recent ones soon.
The figures are generally 12 to 15 inches tall. They are made of Super Sculpy polymer clay over a 4 gauge copper wire armature (The arms/shoulders are a double strand of 8 guage aluminum wire which is mounted to the main armature with electric tape. The copper wire is stiff and strong enough to support a "tall" figure, and the aluminum is flexible and easier to pose.). They're painted with acrylics and mounted on stained pine bases.
The heat down here has been incredible ("heat index," or "how it feels" due to the humidity has been as high as 108), and it's been keeping me inside and away from my papercrete projects.
Hoping to get back at the papercrete soon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Papercrete Gazebo 11

Too many projects, too little time.
And then there's the threat of rain.
Every day.
Excuses aside, I worked on the facade of the gazebo using the sculpture mix, and added a couple coats of latex cement to the roof, and a final, thicker coat on three panels of the roof.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

papercrete recipe update 5-8-2010


papercrete gazebo 9

I made a couple batches of papercrete with the tow mixer last week, and used it to daub a base coat over much of the remaining bare armature. It's been difficult to get a base coat to stick if there was any flexibility in the armature. One thing that helped was to rewire remaining areas of the armature so that the chicken wire, which is more flexible, is behind the stiffer fence wire. Once a single coat of papercrete dries over the armature, it's much easier to add layers of papercrete. I soaked the dry base coat with plenty of water, and added readymix joint compound to the crete to help it stick.
This time instead of making papercrete leaves and attaching them to the base, I simply added and shaped a lump of my current sculpture mix to the base and pressed the leaves in on the spot. This is so much faster and simpler, and gives much more control over where I can place the leaves.
Same with the stones on the base. Instead of making them with the stepping stone mold and attaching them with sheetrock screws, I just gobbed some papercrete onto the base and shaped it into stones using a trowel. A discarded cd makes a great trowel.
For the facade, I'm currently using this sculpture mix (with 2-pound coffee can):
** four cans cellulose insulation
** two cans sand
** one can cement
** water to mix thoroughly but not too wet
** ample (and I do mean ample) readymix joint compound
I mix it by hand in a five gallon bucket, wearing latex gloves, adding the joint compound last. I find I often have to add joint compound as I go, and keep a bucket of water handy to wash it off my gloves so that the papercrete doesn't stick to my gloves instead of the base when I try to daub it on.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

lime plaster over papercrete

Among those who really like our papercrete wall is our cat, Sushi, who has been using it as a scratching post.
You gotta love 'em.
I've been trying to figure out a way to "finish" the wall--to give it a bit more of a hard shell--and thought lime stucco might be the answer.
Like papercrete, lime is pourous and thus "breathes," absorbing and releasing moisture, etc. from the atmosphere.
Modern paints, as far as I know, wouldn’t do that.
Nor would Portland cement-based "stucco."
I could not find anyone online who has actually put lime plaster over papercrete. So this was a true experiment.
When I first started researching lime it seemed a bit intimidating.
Lime is a "traditional" building material, and some people take that aspect of it very seriously. They seem determined to preserve the "old ways" when it comes to working with lime.
Slaking quicklime, etc.
All very complex and time consuming and more dangerous than working with good ol’ Portland cement, which requires a certain amount of caution, but nothing like quicklime, which, they say, can burn the crap out of you.
Flannery O'Conner's protagonist puts his eyes out with quicklime in the novel Wise Blood.
As it turns out, builder’s lime is pretty much like Portland cement in regards to safety. You want to wear a decent dust mask when working with the powder, and wear rubber gloves. Use common sense, etc.
I bought two 50 pound bags of Type S building lime. Building lime is different from agricultural "lime," which, I understand, is simply powered lime stone. Building lime, also called "hydrated lime," is made from quicklime. Lowes and Home Depot do not carry building lime, at least in my area. I called several building supply houses before I found one that sold it.
It was $12 a bag.
Adding the lime to the water, as instructed, and using an electric drill with a paint mixer bit, I mixed four five gallon buckets of plaster which had the consistency of...cold cream? Sun tan lotion? I didn't actually measure the lime as I added it, but more or less tried to make a "paste" of it. It thickened considerably when I added sand just before use. Though not measuring precisely, I generally used a one to one mixture of sand to plaster. The golden sand turned the stark white lime putty a beautiful beige/coral color.
That lightened a bit as it dried.
Online instructions indicated that lime plaster, once mixed, had to set a couple weeks before use. The instructions on the bag indicated that this particular lime was ready to use as soon as mixed, but because of time constraints it had to set a few days.
I wet the wall well and applied the plaster using some old cds as trowels.
Lime plaster smells more like plaster of Paris than cement. Cement really sort of stinks. Lime smells nice and clean. It was a pleasure to work with.
As is my nature, my experiment involved almost the entire wall.
As the lime plaster dried, I noted one section of hairline cracks. This was a section on which I'd used less aggregate (sand) in my mix, which had made the plaster noticably less gritty during application. Otherwise, the lime plaster seems to have made a nice, very attractive shell over the papercrete.
Time, I suppose, will tell the story.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

trash paper gazebo 8

Only the threat of rain yesterday, so at last I had an opportunity to work on the gazebo. I attached some papercrete magnolia leaves from the previous post with sheetrock screws and added a portion of the tree design along with some stones to the base, and a face to the bottom of the totem.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

very fast & easy papercrete leaves

These leaves have been a potential experiment for awhile now.
They were inspired by about a thousand web pages and videos featuring concrete leaves.
They are made of papercrete and intended as part of the facade on my trash paper gazebo.
They're almost too easy to make.
I used magnolia leaves. Not only are they available down here this time of year, but they seemed a perfect size for this particular application.
A mound of damp sand serves as a sort of cushion for the leaves and containment system for the crete. Most instructions for making concrete leaves include placing sandwich wrap between the sand and the concrete so that the sand won't stick. It didn't seem necessary for my leaves. I'll just brush the sand off once the crete is fully cured.
Simply press the leaves face down in the damp sand (the backs of the leaves veiny and offer more detail than the fronts), then daub on the papercrete, pressing down firmly, covering the entire leaf.
I used a simple mixture of four parts cellulose insulation, one part Portland cement, and enough water to make a paste.
After three days the very light weight crete, though still delicate, had cured enough for me to peel away the leaves and reveal little fossil-like replicas. They'll have to cure awhile longer before I attempt to clean them up and attach them to the gazebo.