Thursday, April 30, 2009

Concrete Block Head

I've been making concrete sculpture for a few years now. Frequently, I cover the concrete in mosaic. I've been thinking about making a big head for my garden for a while. It started with me wanting to make a big concrete rock to add another dimension to the garden and then I thought, wouldn't it be neat to have a face carved on it, and then it evolved to wouldn't it just be interesting to have a big concrete head in the yard?

The tools you need for this project are:
  • expanded metal lathe (This is the hardest to find. Not available at Lowe's or Home Depot, I finally found it at Evergreen Building Products. They have locations in Tacoma and Seattle.
  • styrofoam for the interior
  • metal nips and tie wire
  • concrete carving tools, hand trowel
  • concrete mix (For this project I just used super cheap, ready sand mix from Home Depot. About $4 per bag. I didn't use a full bag)
  • concrete bonder (for applying wet concrete to set concrete.
  • leather gloves for handling the lathe
  • rubber gloves for handling the concrete

Start by cutting apart the styrofoam into the rough shape of your head. Mine is about 2 feet long by 1 foot wide. Remember, the more styrofoam, the less concrete and the less weight.

Cut and shape your metal lathe around the styrofoam.
Tie the metal tightly around the styrofoam. You don't want a lot of give, then the concrete bounces off when you try to slather it on. Use smaller bits of lather to shape the nose and ears. Don't worry about making it perfect. It is fairly easy to adjust things when you are putting the concrete on the form.

You are ready to add concrete.

Now comes the fun part. I mix my concrete by hand in a big flat plastic tub. Add your water slowly; if the concrete is too wet and gloppy, it will be too difficult to shape. Start by mixing a smallish amount. I applied the concrete in three sessions over 3 days. First I covered the top half, let it set, turned it over and applied the concrete on the other side. The third day I turned it back over and went over any rough patches and finalized the details.

Remember to paint on concrete bonder in between batches. Otherwise, the new concrete won't stick to the set concrete. And then you will be an unhappy camper.

When done working each day, keep your piece wrapped in plastic. If you can't get to it again right away, be sure to spray it with water to help with curing.

Voila! A nice big concrete head for my garden. Now I want to make lots and lots of these heads.

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