Crete Shay 7 foot Seahorse- Serefina Building process for cement sculpture

I love clay and its building quality's , but I have been searching for about a year for a way to build bigger sculpture , suitable for outside installations that I don't have to cut and fire in pieces and then put back together again. My kiln is 27 inches tall and I have made 5 foot clay sculptures, but as stated above then have to cut , fire and re build them. Anyway this is how I found Ultimate Paper Mache- and Jonni. I tried some of her paper clay recipes , investigated Pal Tiya , epoxy clays ( really expensive if your making large work) and finally wound up looking at paper crete, concrete and cement. Serefina is my first cement sculpture and I see more cement in my future! I am not or least have not been a big blog lady, but I decided to add this here for my own learning process as I develop this new way of sculpting and thought others would, could learn from my exploration too. And because Jonni graciously asked me to do a guest post and so I had written it , should share right?

1) I built and Armature with a steel rod cast into Rapid set cement mix from home depot and added plastic bags, pipe insulation tubes and recycled , waterproofed giclee canvas from a digital printing shop. (pool noodles would work too) and wrapped my form in plastic wrap tightly to stop water penetration and get a more solid form. Here she is at just the canvas stage.

2) I continued to add to the armature until I had her shape pretty well defined then coated her with a slurry mix of quickcrete vertical repair cement (available at home depot ). It has extra polymers and strength and set pretty quickly. I also dipped plastic window mesh screen in this and built layers on in a paper mache style getting a good overall added strength and my first layer of cement mix over the entire form. I was sooo excited - She was standing and solid. I let this dry over night wrapped in plastic as I would treat a clay piece.

3 ) I made a 5 gallon bucket of recycled junk mail paper pulp .I filled the bucket with shredded old paper and covered it with about an inch of water over the top of the paper , let it sit overnight and then drilled it with a glaze mixing attachment to a fine wet pulp. This was my building material mixing small batches in a gallon ice cream container. I mixed 2 cups ( handfuls ) of squeezed out pulp with a 1/2 cup at time of plain portland cement 9 not in the picture) about a 50 / 50 mix and acrylic fortifier bonding agent ( a capful) to make a mix close to a clay consistency. I patted this on in a layer approx 1/2 thick over the entire form and smoothed as much as possible. Let dry again , wrapped overnight.

4) The next day I sprayed her lightly with a water bottle and brushed on a slurry mix of the structural cement all over. I then mixed portland cement with as little water as possible for a normal batch and added the acrylic fortifer 2- 3 capfuls. I would guess approx 4-5 cups of portland to approx 1 cup of water and used a pallette knife to skim coat over the paper pulp layer. This gave her a nice smooth finish once it was brushed out with a soft brush and let her sit again, for a few days occassionly giving her a spray so she would dry slowly and cure nice and hard.

I tried adding some kaolin ( talc) from my ceramic supplys and mixed this with the portland cement and washed that on as a slurry and did some sanding and smoothing further to the surface. I let her dry for about a week and a half then proceeded with a hardner mixed with small amounts of portland cement slurry and acrylic paint and dry pigments for the color. I had some copper pigment and used that as an accent in a few places , followed by 3 coats of straight sealer and hardner drying in between each coat. My husband person:) Mike; poured me the "paver" and we re situated her onto the base filling about 18 inches of her tail and adding steel rods to secure her with steel taps sticking out from under the paver so she can be mounted to a concrete slab. I hope she is going to a sculpture exhibit and they require that for public display. And WahLa Serefina was born. I am very very excited about the potential of working in this medium . Things I learned , I don't like sanding it, my lungs literally hurt even wearing a mask - so smoothing while building is important. I really like the idea of using recycle materials and the freedom to build directly so large without having to fire it and re build the parts back together.

Now I am just holding my breathe hoping to win a spot in the sculpture competition and worrying about moving her to the site ( she weighs approx 150 - 175 lbs. ) Thank you Jonni for the site! I may not be paper mache-ing per say , but your site led me down this path and to viewing and others that brought me to discovering this way of building. Ceramics will always be my true love , but I find it rewarding to learn new things from cement to silk painting and always try to continue to grow as an artist, sculptor.

BLACK LILY STUDIOSarasota FL Artist Lee Bell

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