Think outdoor garden, and beautiful plants, ornamental trees, flowering shrubs and rolling lawns come to mind. The mind's eye may not immediately envisage concrete statuary or even benches, pavers, stepping stones and the like.
However, any garden worth its name - be it in a small backyard or a sprawling turf - is quite incomplete without attractive concrete artworks. While statues, animal sculptures, gnomes, fairies, gargoyles and birdbaths add to the landscape and look quite becoming, other concrete items such as benches, urns, plaques and pavers are quite elementary to the garden scheme.
Indeed, the lush foliage of a garden gets an added charm and texture with garden art and statuary. Most of these items are cast in concrete as it is sturdy and durable.
This brings us to the question of first making molds for these concrete casts. Which mold making materials will be suitable for casting concrete? Let's take a look:
Liquid latex rubber - This has emerged as the mold making material of choice for casting concrete garden articles. It is flexible, long-lasting, maintains details well and most importantly, can easily resist the abrasive nature of concrete. The cheap price and easy availability further adds to the preference of using latex rubber. It is generally used for making larger pieces.
Polyurethanes - Latex rubber comes with one major drawback. Making the mold is a lengthy and cumbersome process involving repetitive coats of the liquid latex (at least 12 to 15 coats) with long breaks in between to allow every successive coat to dry. This is why many mold makers prefer to use polyurethanes for the task. It may be a bit expensive and necessitates application of a mold release also, but the ease and speed of use coupled with the low set time work in its favor. However, polyurethanes are still preferred for making molds of small pieces only.
Silicone rubber - This is another suitable mold making product, put the high cost limits its use for small items such as plaques only.
Once the molds are ready, it is time to move to casting concrete. Use weather-proof concrete mix and dilute it with water to get the desired consistency. Slowly pour the concrete into the mold in a long and thin stream to avoid air bubbles as much as possible. Tap it around or shake the mold a bit to bring any remaining air bubbles to the surface.
Once all the trapped air is popped, allow the cast to cure for a day or two. The concrete will slowly harden to form a solid and durable cast that can be immediately installed outside in the garden.
However, it is advisable to seal the porous concrete with an appropriate sealant such as latex rubber, polyurethane, epoxy or acrylic. This will also protect your artwork from cracking in the long run.
An eye-catching garden with striking garden art awaits you!
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