Garden Art

Little Farmer, Cement Sculpture

Little Farmer Cement SculptureThis is a really short video, partly because I’m still learning how to make cement sculptures and I don’t feel quite confident enough to show you how to do it. You would not believe how many things I tried and then had to do it over. But I’m learning…

The other reason is that I don’t trust my surge protector, and I try to unplug my PC whenever we get a thunderstorm right over town. I could hear the lightning getting closer and closer so I tried to hurry. My dog kept me company by hiding under the desk, shaking. He really doesn’t like thunder.

I’ve been reading a lot about concrete and cement sculpture, and the most valuable resource I found was the Maker’s Gallery, where I found Andrew Goss’ recipes for cement mortars.

In my video I also mention a paper sculptor who makes outdoor figure sculptures out of burlap and cement, and Pat has a great video showing how she does it. She has a printable PDF on her site with all the details, too, so be sure to click on that link. I didn’t use her instructions, but I did get the idea for my little farmer’s clothes from her video. [Edit: Daryll just sent us another link to a sculptor who has workshops in cement and mosaics. And a beautiful garden, too!]

You can see those emergency shelters I mention in the video here, and the book I purchased to find out how it’s done is here. It’s an interesting read, but certainly not needed if you’re just making a sculpture. When I get around to making some how-to videos I’ll tell you how I mixed in the latext paint (believe me, I was happy to find a way to get rid of some of the extra paint in my basement without taking it to the local landfill).

Andrew’s mortar recipes use stone dust. I used powdered marble, which you can get online in a 4 pound size for about $7. I searched around and found a 50 pound sack of finely ground calcium carbonate (same thing) that’s used for agriculture that also cost about $7, but I don’t think Azure Standard will deliver everywhere. If you have them ship UPS it will cost a fortune. Mine came on a truck on their regular delivery route. The stone dust is used in place of sand in Andrew’s unsanded mortars, and makes a really smooth mix.

The Metakaolin comes in 25 or 50 pound bags, and I think there’s only two companies in the US that sell it. It’s a special form of clay (not the same as plain kaolin) and makes a really big difference in the mix. You don’t need much, so 40 pounds may be an excessive purchase for most people, but I do think there’s a vendor on etsy.com that will sell a smaller package for sculptors who really only need a little. Do a search on that site to find it.

I bought both the metakaolin and the special fibers from Fishstone Concrete Counter Supply. They ship really fast, and the shipping charges were not excessive.

But don’t run out and buy all this stuff unless you’re really serious about filling your yard with sculptures – with such big bags (and over 90 pounds of Portland cement, the lightest bag I could buy here in town) you’ll end up with enough product to make a lot of sculptures. Maybe once I figure out the easiest way to do it and have some how-to videos made, you could go in with a group and have a weekend sculpting party.  🙂

Be sure to let me know if this is something you’d be interested in learning how to do – once I figure it out myself, of course. I’ll probably spend the rest of summer playing around with cement, but I could put my videos on another site, if you want to keep this blog strictly for paper mache. Your opinion is important to me, so be sure to leave a comment on this post.

120 Comments

  • Do you have a how to video yet on how to make these cement sculptures? I am extremely interested in what the easiest process is. Thank you for sharing all your talents with us.

    • No, sorry. I read as much as could on the subject, but I never felt like I knew exactly what I was doing. In fact, this sculpture has cracked since it was made, because it wasn’t properly reinforced. I’ve decided to use epoxy clay for my outdoor sculptures, because it’s easier, and because I don’t have to lift 90# bags of cement.

  • I have watched your video over an over. Looked at all the websites you suggested and am about to dive in and do more than one garden sculpture. I love your little foyarmer boy and want to do one similiar for my garden pulling a radio flyer wagon. Did you sculpt the boots or did you use real one dipped in cement? You have the best videos on you tube.

    • I sculpted the boots, but it was easy, since they’re just basic shapes. I do regret that I didn’t reinforce the outside skin of the sculpture better, because I am getting some cracking, mostly behind the knees. If I did it again, I would pay more attention to that area.

      And thanks so much for your kind comments about my videos. That’s so nice of you.

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