Well, so much for my simple tube sea serpent...

loribee2March 26, 2011

When I was looking for inspiration, I glommed onto this photo:

Now, I want to make this out of armature--maybe even kinda big. I think I'm going to have to change my GardenWeb name to SlowmedownToo! LOL

I would definitely simplify the head and probably only do one curl on the tail. But I love the general shape. I'm almost thinking about making the form out of scrunched up newspaper and paper mache, then covering it with wire mesh, instead of trying to form the wire mesh into this shape from the start.


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WOW!!! I LOVE it!!! Zowie! I find that making this kinda stuff is just as easy to be doing in only wire mesh, as the other stuff is just extra steps:ie longer time creating it. Just my opinion, that being said, I saw wire mesh structures being made down in Mexico that were stuffed with newspaper, saving on the amount of cement they used.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 7:18PM
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Well, I couldn't wait to give it a shot. Here's step #1:

In this case, I did like starting with the newspaper, as I could build and shape as I went along. But maybe when I get more experience I'll be able to skip that part and just mold with the wire mesh.

Speaking of which, I'm guessing chicken wire would be the best bet here? I've got some hardware cloth, but it's really stiff (REALLY stiff), and I can never get it bent exactly the way I want. I'd like something more flexible so I can keep the smooth lines I've got going. I guess I'll have to see what they have at Lowes. I do remember the mention of wrapping it twice. I guess the concept is finding something flexible enough to make smooth curves, but stiff enough to hold it's structure when I start applying the concrete?

This is so fun! (so far, lol) I think you're right. If this turns out well, I'm probably going to be hooked.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 7:32PM
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Ooh, and I'm thinking the tongue, those little spikes on his head and a curley-Q tail out of copper......

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 7:38PM
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Have weekend company - granddaughter - so too busy to check in much. LORI: The paper structure is wonderful. The secret to making curves is cutting/folding/stitching. You'll find your own method. Had a friend who used chicken wire/paper to make paper mache projects. W/work here too, but really scrunched wire cuz the mortar needs strong structure and layers in order to hold. Way to go, girlie - you'll find your way.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 9:25AM
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That is so FUN!!!! Can't wait to see your progress.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 9:38AM
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I know. I'm a little worried now. I went back to my books for, "Okay, what next?" information. The armatures always seem to involve some sort of rebar. Now, I'm concerned that just wrapping the paper with chicken wire isn't going to create a strong enough structure to hold the shape. That and I didn't AT ALL think about the fact that the mortar and tiles will add thickness. I hadn't taken that into account. Grrr. Ah well. I'm going to proceed forward anyway and see what happens. The main reason I took up the craft of concrete art was because the materials are relatively inexpensive, so what have I got to lose?

Jenel, I hope I have something to show! LOL

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 10:57AM
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Your first project is a learner!!! I had an idea for a dragon fly that I would hang on the side of my house...he is soooo big and heavy, there is no way!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 11:06AM
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Oh, I love the ducks! I've never seen them before--and I thought I'd scoured all yours and Slow's photos. How did you make them? Did you cover something already duck shaped or did you make them from scratch? That is exactly the kind of thing I'd love to learn. I'm just trying to figure out what kind of inner structure to use--something flexible enough to shape like that, but strong enough to hold the cement.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 11:49AM
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I haven't done it myself but I've read on another board about artists using Rigid Wrap (2 layers) for this type of project and I'm thinking that would be more flexible than chicken wire. Rigid Wrap is that stuff they use in the medical profession for casts (I think).

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 2:05PM
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Yes, I've got Sherri Hunter's book on concrete garden art, and in it, she displays a fiberglass mesh tape that looks like what you're talking about. That would be really nice to work with.

But I did just get home from Lowes (bought some Wiss snips!). I found diamond lath which is pretty flexible, 1" chicken wire, and 1/4" hardware cloth. The 1/4" hardware cloth is WAY more flexible than the stuff I have (I think it's 1"). So I think between the three, one of them will work for me. (Ooh, love shopping sprees at Lowes. LOL)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 3:31PM
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Step 2:

I went with the diamond lath because it seemed to be the most "meshy". I hope I don't regret that when I go to put my first layer of mortar on. The stuff is sharp. No big deal when I've got my nice leather gloves on, but I'm going to have to be careful when I've only got the rubbers.

This was hard! Not difficult, just back-straining doing all that stitching with wire. And Slowmedown, that description you gave me ("stitching") was a tremendous help. I do have experience with sewing so the concept is very similar. It helped me "get" what I needed to do. But my hands and fingers HURT!! (Maybe I'm just outta shape LOL).

Anyway, tomorrow I'm back to my cushy relaxing desk job, so I probably won't make anymore headway until next weekend.

Here's a question: He's a little "lumpy" in spots (see the neck). I'm presuming that I'll be able to smooth all that out (as well as build up the shape in the head) with the mortar. Would you say that's right, or I do need to do more work getting the armature just right?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 8:21PM
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WOW! You are really going like gangbusters! GREAT! Lumpy is okay as the cement will smooth that out. And you could always add some extra mesh where you want to build it up. Now you got me thinking of a project I always wanted to do, a snake path, with the head arching up like a king cobra!ha! May have to get on it sooner than later...I am just trying to get gardening now as I signed up for a garden tour, which I will shamelessly plu my garden art!ha! The ducks I posted, are concrete duckies that needed repair so adding a beak here, adding a foot there...that's the great thing about mosaics, you can reyecle!heh heh! I sure am loving your serpent! It kinda takes over where my seahorse left off!
This was an idea that made me wanna do a snake ...

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 11:36PM
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Oh, that path is awesome! And...oh dear...I've got two whole sections of my yard still unlandscaped that will need paths. Now, I'm thinking too! LOL

Thanks much for the advice and tips on my project. I have been raving to my friends about you wonderful ladies who are encouraging me. They're so impressed I'm tackling this new project, and I've been quick to tell them I'm not doing it alone! :-)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 12:11AM
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OMGoodness. LORI: You've DONE it!!! - all by yourself, w/no classes or one-on-one instructions. You've achieved what I've hoped you would by trying the diamond lath. I'm surprised to see you say it's more flexible than the hardware cloth. You must have found a thinner grade than what my Lowes has. If you put another layer of mesh over this, you'll have it down pat!!! Then it w/hold the mortar. On your little bumps, take your hammmer and smash it a bit. You can shape w/the hammer very well. I am thrilled to peaches that you've been successful in your first attempt. This little puppy is gonna be a masterpiece. CONGRATULATIONS.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 11:29AM
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Thanks, Loribee, for showing us step by step! Looking forward to seeing all stages as you go along. This is going to be fabulous!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 1:54PM
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Thanks, ladies! It's a fun project. I hope it turns out well all the way to the end, because I really want to make a kitty cat. We'll see.

Slow, that original roll of hardware cloth I bought is pretty rigid. Everything I got at Lowes yesterday is very flexible in comparison. So maybe it's not what I'm working with now, but what I was comparing it to.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 2:59PM
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Wow, this is looking awesome! I've been wanting to tackle something like this for a couple of years, but the diamond lathe and hardware cloth look so uninviting to me...so rigid and hard to work with. Maybe I just need to look for more flexible sources! Can't wait to see what happens next!


    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 9:41PM
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Sheryll, I felt the same way. I bought a roll of 1" hardware cloth that I use to reinforce my stepping stones. It's very difficult to work with--I can never get the darned stuff perfectly flat. But after walking around Lowes and checking everything out (I went up and down every aisle--even checked out some gutter screen that looked interesting) I was surprised by what I found.

My good leather gloves are a must, though. This stuff ended up bending the way I needed it to, but it's sharp and you don't want to do it without gloves and safety goggles (for the wire that flails around as you're stitching it together).

I'm still not sure if this guy will turn out all that well, but I'm positive I'll end up with great experience to make something else. Slow and Calamity are right about armature. Once you get the technique down, it really does open big doors for making garden art (or indoor art!). I'm already rethinking my butterfly, which is the little "weekend project" that started the whole thing. LOL

(Oh and if you do give it a try, post pictures!)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 9:38AM
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Wow! Incredible. Can't wait to see it finished.
The snake path is amazing. TFS calamity!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2011 at 1:42PM
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