Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's Tufa Time!

Hypertufa is a light weight concrete mix that gives you a container with the strength of concrete but light weight. The basic mix is Portland cement, perlite and peat moss.

  I've been trying my hand at making hypertufa containers. Some turned out, some did not.( I didn't wait long enough to remove them from the mold.) I was able to crumble the remains of the disasters and used in a 'save the crumbles batch'.
  That turned out ok, as all of the containers are solid. It was not a true tufa recipe, as I didn't have the perlite. Basically I mixed equal parts of peat, sand and cement.
I should have let all of them cure for two days instead of one.
  A lot of research was done before I bought those first few bags of cement. There is a wealth of information out there for beginners like me. I watched lots of videos, studied recipes and techniques. I did take precautions like wearing goggles and a face mask when dealing with cement. I'm working in the garage with a fan, on a stand, placed behind the work area blowing outside. Once the recipe is mixed and the fan has cleared the air, I
remove the mask. It's been hot and humid lately so getting that mask off as soon as it's safe is very important to me!  I went shopping and got more peat, perlite and containers to use as molds, (I got these containers at Big Lots.) and made several batches yesterday.
  I'm attempting a large fountain using our fire pit as a mold (lined with plastic trash bags).
I'll let that one cure a couple days before I attempt to remove the mold. I made a bunch of tiny planters for cactus or mini plants as well as some medium sized bowls as well. I'll remove them from the molds and scuff them up a bit with a brush to make them look more like stone. You can see the tiles I've broken to go into the fountain once it cures. I wore eye protection and put the tiles in a plastic grocery bag while breaking them. Gloves are a good idea as the tile pieces can be very sharp.
Fire pit as a mold for fountain.
     The tiles were free! Given to me by a craft-hoarding friend like me. She and I have become great 'pickers' utilizing craigslist and freecycle on a daily basis. Both sites are free and very useful. Craigslist is like an online newspaper you visit. It's part of my routine to check it every morning. Freecycle is a site that you have to join, then you get sent daily emails. It's free to join and I have gotten some items from members of my group. You can ask for what you want and people seem to come up with that item. It's very cool, ask and you shall receive, right!? It's a great way of getting what you need
for very little or no money.
  We should talk about molds. You can use almost anything for molds. Plastic containers work best.You do have to coat the inside with a release of some sort. You can use cheap, new motor oil or Armor-All spray (for cars). No vegetable oils as they can go rancid. Cardboard boxes can work when covered with plastic. Wood frames can be made and covered with plastic.

  Here's a fun website that can give you some ideas.  The Artistic Garden
 Here's one that gave me inspiration!  Little and Lewis

 Here I cut a basketball in half, oiled it, filled it and set dowels to create a tube when mortared together. This will be part of a fountain.
 I made a shallow dish with left over mix. You can  use the inside of the bowl or...

 You can turn a bowl or planter upside down and cover it with mix.
  Here's variety of containers that can be used. I went through the house scavenging! A cheap disk toy will be a level on a fountain. The yellow bowl has a concave on the bottom so I can set a sphere on it! The plastic drinking glasses are little planters. The triangular one has two uses, the small part will be a leg for a big pot and the larger one a leg also although I made planters from some of them.
Now to go out and see how it turned out! How fun!
Time to scuff them up! 

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