Help bring out my inner concrete craftsmen.
October 19, 2008 6:54 PM   Subscribe

Concrete-filter: I'd like to explore making some things with concrete - pots, birdbaths and such as. Classes don't interest me, but I want to know how you do it. And do it well.

The backyard bird bug (too many AskMe posts to thank for all the good info) has struck. While looking at the many options to buy and make all kinds of birdbaths I thought, hmmm, I want to make this. And that. And that too. But many of the online examples are of a lower quality than I want.
What I seek: personal experiences with sites, books and other instructional methods about how to make craft objects with concrete. I'm surprisingly serious about this - really well made items - clean lines, interesting colors, attention to detail - catch my attention.
I understand there is a learning curve and my intent is to not jump the line. Space is not an issue (lots available in my basement). Classes are not my strength but at this point trading some beer for concrete instruction is a possibility too. Thank you!
posted by TomSophieIvy to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
In the home renovation arena the authority on the subject is Fu-Tung Cheng. Although I have not read his books personally I've only heard good things from the same home improvement sources that I trust in other areas. The books are a bit more focused on things like concrete countertops and sinks, but I imagine that a sink and a birdbath have quite a bit in common. Here's one of his books - there is at least one more that is countertop focused.
posted by true at 7:43 PM on October 19, 2008

This book came up when I googled:
posted by izoralee at 7:47 PM on October 19, 2008

You will want to read up on ferrocement (wikipedia; a good overview) as well as learning to make molds and forms.

Your basement may be a bit imperfect for concrete work -- concrete is messy, and the dust is bad to breath (making air quality and filtration important for extended indoor work). Disposal of extra concrete is an issue, too -- for obvious reasons, you can't just pour it down the drain (or rather, you can, but it only takes once to learn why that was a bad idea).
posted by Forktine at 7:48 PM on October 19, 2008

The concrete conga tone test
posted by hortense at 7:52 PM on October 19, 2008

You could start by making a concrete leaf casting. It's a good beginner project, and if you get a large enough leaf you can use it as a birdbath.
posted by Ostara at 7:53 PM on October 19, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the excellent responses so far - I may have to join the Fu-Tung Cheng Clan. And thanks for the care of my lungs, Forktine.
posted by TomSophieIvy at 8:01 PM on October 19, 2008

You might head over to the library and check out the books of Sherri Warner Hunter.
posted by Marky at 8:04 PM on October 19, 2008

I was coming in to recommend Cheng's books too. So, seconded!
posted by Joh at 9:20 PM on October 19, 2008

For pots and planters, you may want to look into hypertufa. The recipe I've used contains equal parts of Portland cement (not concrete), peat, sand and vermiculite. It can easily be textured and aged to look like stone. Here are instructions for a trough planter.
posted by vers at 6:32 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

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