7 years ago#1
mysticwizard
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Could anyone tell me what I could use to sculpt outdoor garden angels and other garden items? I know plaster will melt in the rain, and I don't want to work with concrete. How does regular sculpting clay hold up, and where can I get it in large quantities? Any help would be appreciated!

Aubrey

And Aubrey was her name... A not so very ordinary girl or name.

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7 years ago#2
caligula
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How about cast bronze? Seems to hold up well outdoors! :>

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7 years ago#3
atvordsbbb
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[Thanks for the intro, Rick. I will indeed start ranting on about the horrors of polyester resin at a moment's notice, but don't get me started...

There are some plaster/portland cement alloys that might fit the bill here, though. One is made by US Gypsum, and is called Gardenstone. It works like plaster, but does much better outdoors.

As for clay- dig it yourself if you want large quantities dirt-cheap. Failing that, you can get dry powdered clay in 100lb sacks fairly cheaply- it's often sold in masonry supply places as fireclay and mortarclay. It won't, of course, hold up outdoors without firing, but after that it's good for millennea.]

Andrew Werby

UNITED ARTWORKS- Sculpture, Jewelry, and other art stuff http://unitedartworks.com http://www.computersculpture.com for 3d design tools

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7 years ago#4
minjaekim93
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Aubrey, Outdoor pieces are limited to concrete (and some closely related mixtures), and.....Andrew mentioned Gardenstone. That's about it as far as I know, if you eliminate metals.

It's been done over and over for many years. I have pieces my dad cast before I was born (50 yrs). They have been in the weather (mild, for the most part, S. Texas) for all that time. Very little if any noticeable degradation.

As for details on how to do it, that is a long story.

You can use bags from the hardware store, Bags of other types (Euco speed, for example - fast setting, very strong), or mix your own, etc. My favorite for pieces to be left with a natural finish, is to use white portland cement, and marble chips that I get from a terrazzo floor contractor (various colors are available). I demold early and then brush the surface to expose the marble.

Start small, experiment, keep notes. And post back with questions, results, etc.

Good luck, T.M. Battersby http://home.swbell.net/tbattman

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7 years ago#5
rbateman
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Don't know where you live, but up in Alaska I use Ice, true I have to replace the piece every winter but thats fine with me. Ice- the 4 dimensional media - 3D + time = 4D

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7 years ago#6
MatiCamsf
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Okay, so let us say I decide to work with concrete. I figure that I will need to make a clay positive, and then create a mold to pour the concrete into. Has anyone done anything like this, and could they give me the details about how to do it? Do you use the type of concrete that can be bought at the hardware store, or is there some other brand that's better for what I am doing? I think I might just make some items out of clay and fire them, but only the smaller things of course. For the larger items I am thinking I might go the concrete route. So how do I go about this? By the way, thanks for all the great info in the last posts.

Aubrey

And Aubrey was her name... A not so very ordinary girl or name.

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7 years ago#7
caligula
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[Have you ever tried a 'lost-ice' method? Make the sculpture in ice, encase in a soft plaster material, then pour in a harder plaster or concrete when the ice melts away? I've never had a chance to try this, living in a warm climate and liking it that way, but I'm curious...]

Andrew Werby

UNITED ARTWORKS- Sculpture, Jewelry, and other art stuff http://unitedartworks.com http://www.computersculpture.com for 3d design tools

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7 years ago#8
Linda2
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[You can do it that way, or you can build it up directly.]

[The pre-mixed concrete from the hardware store will work (but don't get the 'fencepost' mix) but for different applications or appearances you might want to try mixing your own from scratch. The recipe will vary, depending on whether you want to build it up directly or cast it into a mold. Basically, concrete is made by mixing portland cement- the binder- with some sand, gravel, or other inert material- the aggregate. A 'rich' mix: one part binder to 3 parts aggregate, works well for sculpture casting. For direct work, you either should use plastic cement or add lime at a ratio of one part lime for each 2 parts cement binder. You can get better colors by using white portland cement instead of the more common gray, then adding lime-proof cement colors. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly in your mixing tray before adding water, then add no more than is necessary to maximize final strength. Cure wet for two weeks at least.]

I think I might just make some items out of clay and fire them, but

[No problem, Aubrey. You might consider making some or all of the sculpture in parts, firing each seperately, then assembling them using the concrete and an armature. I've seen some sizable pieces done this way.]

Andrew Werby

UNITED ARTWORKS- Sculpture, Jewelry, and other art stuff http://unitedartworks.com http://www.computersculpture.com for 3d design tools

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7 years ago#9
Woody-
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We have to speak quietly here, I'm about to get into an area that sets Andrews hackles on end. I'm doing what is suggested you do, on a professional basis. I'm working on a condo project, helping the art director produce architectural detail, in concrete. Our method is to sculpt in clay, make a polyurethane rubber mould of the piece, then a fibreglass shell. Remove the original and cast in concrete. What Andrew doesn't like is the fibreglass resin and if you have the finances I would suggest you stay away from it because there are a number of shell materials that are no way as toxic as fibreglass. It's convenient but wicked. My pal the art director has tried just about every possible 'sculpting/casting' mix there is and has had almost as many nightmares. If it's got plaster in it, I'd highly reccomend [sp?] you don't use it. Plaster just doesn't handle the weather well. The concrete engineer hired for the site, pointed out that Hadrians wall, ***** in 121 AD, was done with primitive concrete and is still standing. Concrete by itself is a very durable medium. May I suggest you learn from my friends mistakes? He's really tried everything in concrete there is and he's gone back to a basic cement and things are working fine. Best of luck, Rick Smith

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7 years ago#10
Man In Black
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<snip>

I will second this. I make small garden ornaments that sell for a few pounds (sterling) each. I make the original in clay, then take a plaster piece mould. If the piece mould needs more than six pieces, I refine the design as it is often too complex and will cause problems in casting (the simpler the better). I make a number of plaster positives, for small pieces a few inches long, I may cast a dozen or so. Making the moulds in batches cuts the costs. I then make either latex or gelflex (vinamold, re-meltable PVC) moulds of these plaster casts. If the pieces are small, I will make a gelflex block mould with up to a dozen pieces in - again batch production reduces costs. For larger and more complicated designs, I use latex. I paint on a layer of thin latex first, then four layers of thickened latex. This gives a thin mould of about 1-2mm thick. This thickness is perfectly adequate and peels off easily and is quicker to make and cheaper than a thicker latex mould. I make the shell for the latex moulds out of plaster bandage, reinforced with painted steel if necessary. The bandage shell is cast off one of the plaster copies, AFTER removing the latex skin mould. This helps allow for some of the shrinkage in the latex. People will say 'use silicone or polyurothane' but latex is dirt cheap and I expect a minimum of 30 concrete positives from each latex mould.

I use standard portland cement with sharp sand mixed about 1:2.5 and I add a frostproofer/rapid hardener too at 4:1 water to hardener, but this is brand specific. I sometimes add colourant for some of the designs too. I leave the concrete in the mould for 24 hours. The pieces are hard enough to sell when they are removed (adjust hardener to suit). I just wash and dry the latex moulds before immidiate re-use. Every 3 or 4 days, I give the latex a dusting with french chalc (talc will do) and if I can, give it 'a day off'.

To keep costs down, I have a selection of moulds of smaller items that I only fill when I have mixed up too much concrete. This prevents any concrete going to waste. Using standard concrete etc., the costs are reduced over using any special products, but the colour range and range of surface textures is limited. I do not worry too much about air bubbles on the surface, but vibrating the mould (a good shaking by hand) reduces them significantly.

Hope this helps, and good luck with the sales!

Evan

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