Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mud Wrestling

Remember how much fun it was to play in the mud when you were a kid?  Well, you have gotten older but it didn't stop being fun.  I'd like to share some fun I've had that is a little more mature but really, still just playing in the mud.  One "mud" I like to play with is just plain cement and one is hypertufa or tufa for short which weighs much less and appears more natural.  I've made projects with both of these that I'll show you and really enjoyed making them as well as displaying them in my garden and I hope you will too. Remember to use 100% pure Portland cement and not a product containing small amounts of it otherwise your mud wrestling will go bad and literally dissolve over time unless you put it where it is not exposed to the elements. The leaf in the photo is made from cement while the grot, more mud looking, is made from tufa.

When playing with cement or tufa, one could simply use an existing stepping stone 
and add tufa to the top and carve a relief and after sealing with a urethane, paint it.  I've seen the grots (grotesque faces) used for holding torches for the garden, torch cans, tikis and totem poles, plant containers and bird baths to name some.  I've also seen entire borders sculptured from tufa to resemble a mermaid swimming in an ocean with fish.  Adorn your tufa with natural elements of moss, shell, leaves, etc... Challenge yourself to do something wildly beyond these examples!  If you do - I'd love to hear about it
 and pictures are a plus!

To make a Grot(grotesque face):
  1. Find a place to work where your tufa won't be disturbed for 24 hours
  2. Think about what you'd like to make and gather anything that will go into/onto the tufa before it sets
  3. Whip up a batch of tufa. See video below.
  4. mold it around your plastic container (or container wrapped in plastic) at least 2 inches thick.
  5. allow to set up a while so that it's dried enough to scrape away at tufa 
  6. Imagine a face for your creation exaggerated angry eyes, rogue nose, growling mouth
  7. using a butter/putty knife, carve rough shape into tufa not real deep yet until you get the kind of face you want
  8. remove bits of tufa with butter knife to sculpt
  9. add more tufa to "bump out" features that you want prominent
  10. add glass eyes or use whatever accessory you've decided on
  11. Allow to dry 24 hours and then show off. 
I have made this leaf using patch cement instead of tufa.  You can use cement dyes or paint your finished leaf.  Metallic paints look fantastic.

list of what you'll need for hypertufa:

play sand for molding leaf
plastic bag to cover it
tub to mix hyper tufa ingredients
rubber gloves
safety goggles & dust mask
putty knife
1 part Portland cement
1 part sawdust (I used sand)
1 part perlite
mold release, veg oil, Pam
LEAF such as from Rhubarb 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a beautiful leaf! Nope, I don't have that kind of talent; not even close.