Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hello & Welcome to Artful Concrete

The images above are all cement-based art. From a tiny concrete and gold brooch/ a four-story tall salute to The Beatles, they all employ the most common building material on Earth. Cement. Applied with considerable creativity, of course. From L to R the artists include: David Adickes, Donald R. Tucker, (Top R) Andre Gandin, (Lower R) Andrew Goss.

This site is dedicated to any and all artists & craftspeople who use cement-based art media.

Let me begin by qualifying a few things. Yes...I am one of those artists. I work in a wide range of cement-based art media (there are a lot of possibilities). And for the more learned among you, yes...I am well aware that there is indeed a big difference between "concrete" and "cement". For the rest of the world..."cement" is a fine gray or white powder binder or "glue" that when mixed with sand, gravel and water...makes concrete. However, since there seems to be a lot of confusion as to which is what...I went with the flow for the title here. If you can accept the fact that, in spite of what you have heard all of your life...there is no such thing as a "Cee-ment Sidewalk" (they are Concrete) are well on your way to grasping most of the concepts presented here. Please note that this blog is intended to simply be an introduction to this quite remarkable medium. For detailed formulations, art & sculpting techniques and discussion on the topic, please refer to my website:

As I indicated early on, concrete is just one of a great many cement-based formulations available to artists. Below are a few examples of sculpting, casting and carving mixtures commonly used by artisans that all rely on cement to hold a wide and often unusual variety of other stuff together.

NOTES: For our purpose, the mixtures below are all based on the use of ordinary "Portland" cement mixed with "other stuff" and water. "Portland" is the most common of several "types" of cement...not a Brand Name. And all references to "Parts" infers the use a common, consistent measure among the different components, whether it be in pounds, kilograms, coffee cans, cups or metric tons. The water content of these mixes is addressed in a separate section further down.

Cement-Based Formulas (Recipes)

Basic "1-2-3" Concrete:
Probably the most common construction mixture on Earth. Strong and inexpensive, but it limits the degree of detail possible due simply to the size of the other dry particulate ingredients (also referred to as "aggregates") in the mix.

1 Part Portland Cement
2 Parts Sand
3 Parts Gravel or Small Rock

Basic Mortar Mix:
Mortar is the term most often applied to a simple mixture of cement and sand combined with water. The cement can be ordinary Portland, or a type known as "Masonry Cement" which is specifically formulated to meet the needs of brick and stone masons. A little "stickier" than ordinary Portland, it is also lower strength and density. Either is workable as an art medium when this difference is taken into account.

1 Part Portland or Masonry Cement
1 to 4 Parts Sand (This can vary quite a bit depending on the purpose/application of the mixture)

Hypertufa Formulations:
This is a craft mixture that was originally formulated to simulate the appearance and functionality of a type of porous natural rock known as "Tufa" that was very popular for constructing Alpine planters.
Natural Tufa has become a scarce and pricey commodity which has only enhanced the popularity of this mixture. It is lighter weight than conventional concrete or mortar and its porosity insures that the soil remains very well drained. It is the Peat Moss in the mixture that creates these pores. As it decays, it leaves a network of small channels or pores throughout the material. Please note that this mixture is constantly being tinkered with by experimenters seeking various results and effects, so don't be surprised to find an infinite number of "recipes" if you Google it. The ones below are considered basic and a good starting point.
NOTES: Peat Moss should always be screened first to remove any twigs, lumps or debris. "Perlite" and "Vermiculite" are commonly used soil amendments and usually available through most "Big Box" garden centers.

Basic Hypertufa:
1 Part Portland Cement
1 Part Sand
2 Parts Screened Peat

Hypertufa With Perlite:
1 Part Portland Cement
1 Part Sand
1 Part Screened Peat
1 Part Perlite

Hypertufa With Vermiculite:
1 Part Portland Cement
1 Part Sand
1 Part Screened Peat
1 Part Vermiculite

Hypertufa, Sand-Free:
2 Parts Portland Cement
1 1/2 Parts Peat
1 1/2 Parts Perlite

To learn more about the possibilities of cement-based art media, please visit...