There might be easier ways to undertake such a project, but I used what materials I had on hand in order to keep costs minimal - especially not knowing if my idea would work. The original mold and box I made lasted 5 castings before it became unusable. That was due to my lack of reinforcing the mother mold with fiberglass. I then created Version 2.0, which is the method I have been using since and am teaching you today. To date I have made 15 of these 350 lb.+ Buddha castings all of which are currently nestled in various gardens belonging to my friends, family and clients.
empty 5 gallon bucket
all purpose drywall joint topping
fiberglass resin and mat
chicken wire and hardware cloth
2 part expanding foam
1"x2"s and 2"x2"s
Solvent based Concrete sealer
needle nosed pliers
concrete mixer optional
concrete vibrator optional
Step 1: Choose What You Want to Sculpt.
I purchased this head a long time ago at a flea market and wanted to create a bigger version. I chose to only create the front half of the head in order to avoid any undercuts and to keep it a one-piece mold. I placed tape on the head to indicate my cut-off line and took photos.
Step 2: Draw Your Outline to Scale and Begin Building Your Frame.
I used 5 pieces of 1x2's screwed and taped together to give me a basic frame. Chicken wire was then shaped using needle-nosed pliers and was stapled to the wood. Shaping can be done by bending and twisting the chicken wire to create whatever shape you are going for.
Hardware cloth was used to form the nose and neck due to its ability to straight-line bend, along with its strength over chicken wire.
Step 3: Applying the Plaster Cloth.
Step 4: Start Applying Papercrete.
Begin building up features with papercrete and keep in mind papercrete sticks to itself so you can add layers even if dry. Start forming the subject. I like to use my bare hands when sculpting with papercrete, sort of like working with clay. Keep in mind this will dry the heck out of your hands so use gloves if you want to save your secretary hands. Applying pressure with your hands will make papercrete smooth, but don't worry about smoothing it out so much until you have reached your final layer of papercrete.
Photo # 2 shows the addition of enlarged chin, nose and eyes.
Step 5: Apply Headdress and Any Last Details.
Step 6: Sealing the Casting Surface
Step 7: Cut Wooden Base to Size
Use this base as a template to cut a duplicate base out of plywood which will later be used as a lid to your box.
Place sculpture on the melamine wood base (smooth side up) and use plumbers putty to fill gaps between sculpture and wood.
Step 8: Apply Latex.
Cover the entire surface with latex as well as 2" around the perimeter on the base wood to work as the lip. You can proceed painting on thicker layers once each one has dried enough to not stick to your finger when touched.. Right after paining on my third coat I covered the entire sculpture with cheese cloth and slightly pushed it into the wet latex. This helps with strength and also allows you to paint on thicker coats without running down the side. Let it fully dry for a day or two. In total I did roughly six layers latex and two layers of cheese cloth in between as to try to give it more strength and get many uses out of it.
Step 9: Create a Barrier Between the Latex and Fiberglass.
Mist surface of plastic wrap with spray tack. Then repeat the plastic wrap process again, but using aluminum foil this time. Once fully covered, we can begin fiberglassing.
Step 10: Fiberglass.
Cut strips of fiberglass mat 4 inches wide by 12 inches. You will need to estimate the number of strips according to the size of your casting. Mix the fiberglass resin and activator per manufacturer directions, I think mine as 12 drops activator per 1 ounce of resin. Keep in mind not to make too large of a batch at one time as the resin dries fast.
Using a brush, apply a layer resin to one section of the sculpture. Then begin applying one strip of fiberglass mat at a time using the brush to fully saturate the mat painting another layer of resin over the top of the mat. As the chemical reaction begins to take place, the mat will soften and become more pliable. You can then move the fibers around as needed to fully cover any voids. Repeat this process until the entire sculpture and an extra 2-inch lip around the base is fully covered with fiberglass.
You will need to do two layers of fiberglass making sure to lay the second layer in the opposite direction as the first layer. Use the brush to poke out air bubbles.
Step 11: Build Your Box.
Step 12: Foam Party!
The 2-part foam gets mixed one to one and needs to be blended well. Before pouring the foam, mist the inside of the box and the fiberglass with water.This helps the bonding process.
Starting at the base and deepest part of the box begin pouring in the foam making sure to cover the entire surface of the sculpture. Make sure not to simply pour the foam in one spot, but rather slowly pour across the entire sculpture so that the foam will rise evenly across the surface.
Let this dry over night. Estimate the amount of remaining foam you'll need to be level with the box walls and repeat the pouring process.
Right after pouring the last foam layer and before it has fully risen, screw the lid on to your box. Let it dry overnight.
In the first version, I didn't use the cooking spray and plastic wrap/foil layer method and my original came out in pieces. Good thing my mold was in good shape to reproduce it.
Step 14: Reproduction
Here you can see version two of my box and it is about six years old . Still in tact after casting 15 or more sculptures.
You'll need to first mix your concrete. For every 80 lb. bag of concrete, one shovel of Portland cement was used. We used a small concrete mixer, however I've also done this without a mixer using a wheel barrel, pick and shovel. Mix your concrete, Portland cement and water (added slowly) until you have the consistency of thick clumpy oatmeal.
I recommend buying an extra bag or two of concrete for this first run until you figure out how many bags your mold takes to reproduce.
Spray inside of glove with cooking spray. Then start to shovel in the mixed concrete until you've reached the desired height. I used a concrete vibrator to minimize air pockets and bubbles. You can also tap around the outside of the box with a rubber mallet to try and raise air pockets to the surface.
bend rebar to resemble shape on photo.
Press bent rebar 3 inches into the concrete trying to center the rebar loop at the sculpture's center of gravity.
Smooth out surface of concrete with a trowel and let dry for a week.
Step 15: Removing the Sculpture.
Step 16: Finished. or Move on to Staining and Sealing.
The statue looks best when placed popping out of vegetation so find a cool place in your yard to place it.
Enjoy and remember to vote for my Instructable in the casting/concrete contest!