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Sculpting in cement and sphagnum moss


BLZeebub
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Figured I'd finally post some more finished items! Pardon the long post, but there's a lot of info to get across and to beg of any experts in the realms.

 

A little background first:  My grandfather makes sculptures (purely for fun, though he does give them away and build them on request) starting with upturned cedar trunks and building up from the roots into cool old man faces and other whimsical things using a mixture of cement and sphagnum moss (a.k.a. peat moss).  He actually makes a lot of different sculptures, but they're not related to this topic.  ;)

 

For his 80th birthday this year I began work on a special something (progress in the soon-to-be-posted WIP thread) for him.  These faces are my experiments with a) my own hand at sculpting with a macroscopic cementitious substance (ie:  Reaper forums....  The next largest thing I've sculpted was a 55 mm tall gelatinous cube and a 47 mm tall hearth) and b) to figure out the proper mix for this stuff.  He told me he uses a 1:1 mix of cement and moss (similar to the recipe for hypertufa), but when I tried that it ended up crumblable in my hands.  Shown are a wizard (1:1 mix of mortar and moss) that will more than likely dissolve in a few months, a demon face from pure cement that will outlast my house, and a vague face (cement, moss, and a bit of sand--still came out crumbly).

 

Enjoy my little creations (these are about man-hand sized)!  Also, has anyone any experience with this medium?  Any advice would be HUGELY appreciated!

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Are you using cement or concrete to mix with the moss? If you're using concrete mix (cement plus aggregate) instead of straight cement, you might not have enough actual cement in the mix, which could explain the crumbling.

I've tried mortar mix (portland and sand), but I'm using a cement mix now (has sand, but no aggregate), which hardens well (never did check straight mortar mix as I know the cement works from having used it at, well, work).

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Hmmm... have you tried adding more moss to see what happens?

I think the moss is the problem. The pure cement mix forms up nice and hard. Even a little moss, and the whole thing feels like papier mâché...

The moss is in long strands?

Or, tiny shreds?

Particles?

Big clumps?

Minced into nearly a powder?

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Hmmm... have you tried adding more moss to see what happens?

I think the moss is the problem. The pure cement mix forms up nice and hard. Even a little moss, and the whole thing feels like papier mâché...

The moss is in long strands?

Or, tiny shreds?

Particles?

Big clumps?

Minced into nearly a powder?

 

Nearly a powder.  It's very fine and damp, so I don't need to add much water.  It makes the sculpting itself smoother.

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