Instructables
Picture of Portrait Busts -- an original technique
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This is an original technique I use for making portrait busts out of grout.  Grout is like cement, except it is stickier and doesn't shrink.  When cement dries it shrinks and tends to crack, which the grout does not do.

To make the finished bust lighter I use a mold to make crumpled aluminum foil cores.  The cores can be bent some to give position variations. 

The grout I use, "Keraset", comes in a light gray color.  The grout can be given a variety of colors, depending on the addition of powdered pigments.  The pigments are available in hardware stores for coloring cement.  Right now, I am mostly making clay-colored grout using a combination of red and yellow pigments. 
 
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Step 1: The Mold

Picture of The Mold
The 2-piece mold was made out of cement many years ago, and I don't have photos of its construction. 

The core shape was originally sculpted in clay.  Using mold-making techniques, I made a 2-piece mold of the shape. 

The left and right halves of the core are molded out of crumpled aluminum foil.  The halves are then taped together.  The neck can be bent to provide position variations.
The end result is amazing! I've been doing some research into alternative materials for an arts project and considered mortar caulk and bathroom grout, and of course, I found this! Thank you so much, and good work! I've never worked with cement-like material before, do small pieces of grout chip off easily?
Thinkenstein (author)  ThePyroManiac2 years ago
Glad you like the technique. Grout is not as hard as fired clay, but it is easier to work with because you don't have to fire it. It's about comparable to the strength of cement. If you don't bang it, or drop it, small pieces won't chip off. Do some small-scale tests to get a feel for the strength.
Right. Thank you so much!
Raddd!
Just curious, I was looking for an alternative sculpting material that will stick to a styrofoam core.  And to make matters more difficult, I need it to have a smooth finish.
So, that being said, how "workable" is the grout after it's cured?  Can it be sanded at all?  I was leaning toward Bondo, but it's pricey!  Any suggestions?
Thinkenstein (author)  forced_membership4 years ago
The grout sticks well to Styrofoam.   When hard it can be filed and sanded.   If you want a shiny smooth finish, you may have to use something like a varnish.  Experiment, and let me know if you come up with anything good. 
elgorgo4 years ago
Great work.
You obviously know a bit about sculpting.
Could you make a figurine and show me/us how to make a mould for the figurine. Im totally lost when it comes to moulding, however I am good at the 'pour', if ya know what I mean.
thnx
Thinkenstein (author)  elgorgo4 years ago
http://www.instructables.com/id/An-Easy-Sculpture-Armature-human-figure/

Making a figurine is one thing.  Making a mold of it is another. The kind of mold you make depends on the position of the figure, for one thing.  A complex position calls for a more advanced mold making technique -- using more than two mold parts, or a flexible inner mold with a rigid outer mold shell. 

Try to avoid undercut areas that would hang up a rigid mold.  For that you need a flexible mold. 

I suggest you start with simple shapes with two-part molds.  I used to make figurines out of clay.  Cut pieces of acetate and stick them into the clay to represent the part line.  You can use acetate to fuse the pieces together.  Plaster one side, remove the acetate, apply mold release, and plaster the remaining side.  It helps to put registration dimples in the acetate with heat and a round object, and wedge holes in the part line for sticking a wedge in to help pry the mold halves apart. 


Ninzerbean4 years ago
 Where I live grout comes two ways - sanded and unsanded - which are you using?
Thinkenstein (author)  Ninzerbean4 years ago
I'm not sure, but I think it must be sanded.  It has some gritty feel to it and it doesn't shrink and crack when it hardens and dries. 
 On the package it will say if it is for joints that are 1/2 or larger - that is sanded grout, for smaller joints unsanded grout can be used. If it is gritty I am sure it is sanded, thank you. Unsanded grout will crack if the expanse is too large. Is it possible if you mixed the gout thinly and used it as a slurry you could then dip the piece just to get the first few layers on?
Thinkenstein (author)  Ninzerbean4 years ago
The slurry idea sounds interesting, kind of like dipping candles.  One would probably waste a lot of slurry in the dip tank, though.  I'll stick with just slathering on a thicker coat.  It doesn't take all that long, and there is no need to repeat the process. 

Dipping would be a good way to make mini-caves with stalactites and maybe stalagmites.  The stalagmites could always be made separately and inverted when finished. 
diyhopeful4 years ago
Innovative methods and excellent final results. 
Thinkenstein (author)  diyhopeful4 years ago
Thanks.
bakerrlb4 years ago
I work for a grout manufacturer and love to see alternative uses for this product!!  Keep up the good work. I would be happy to help out with future projects.
Thinkenstein (author)  bakerrlb4 years ago
Thanks.  How about telling us what all goes into grout?   Cement, sand and plasticizers?
osiris sr4 years ago
my older sister had art class they made busts out of wax starting with a gallon jug and welded pedistel . the pedistel was heavy half in thick metal with a heave rod about a foot long in the middle and tree like branches to hold the wax . the hot wax was melted and poured into the gallon jug the wax was carved into an indian bust and feathers added as head dress . when my sister moved she gave me the sculpture i should of took photos alwats document everything with photos wish i had them to share here. happy mol;ding casting carving no matter the medium its fun way to craft that great bust remids me of zz tops frank beard
mikeasaurus4 years ago
looks good.
An interesting choice with grout, an artist at sculpting and timing.
Bust sculpting is due for a revival.
Thinkenstein (author)  mikeasaurus4 years ago
Thanks.

Bust sculpting also has some social benefits -- a model to talk with while you work. 
agreed, you should work on having a female muse.
Thinkenstein (author)  mikeasaurus4 years ago
Would be nice.  I take what I can get.  The jungle is a great place to live and a tough place to go model shopping. 
pjstewart4 years ago
How do you make a bowl out of silicone rubber?  I cut in half a large plastic ball.
Thinkenstein (author)  pjstewart4 years ago
On a non-stick plastic surface (a stretched out trash bag works) I made an overturned boat shape out of clay, and covered it with silicone rubber.  When the silicone was hardened, I lifted it off the plastic surface and removed the clay.  
underkill4 years ago
 Thumbs up man.  This kind is also a similar armature that I use for plaster sculptures (just cause they look limestoney).  Will definitely have to try out the grout though.  Isn't it kind of sand textured?  It would definitely be good not to have to deal with plaster.
Thinkenstein (author)  underkill4 years ago
The grout I use is sand textured.   I have heard of sanded grout, so that must be it.  It is stickier than cement.  I don't know what the grout ingredients are, but it feels like it has cement and some plasticizers in it.
SinAmos4 years ago
Quality.
Jayefuu4 years ago
Wow. Looks good!
Thinkenstein (author)  Jayefuu4 years ago
Thanks. 
Very impressive.  I wonder - would grout stick to resin, plasticine, or the like?  If so, could you use such materials to  make the solid from directly from the mold without a weight penalty?
I occasionally model my projects in clay and use newspaper, foil, or wire mesh as structures, but for larger models your method might work very well - I have no means to bake clay to a carve-able state, so I either use air-dry or low-heat dry base.  Maybe grout would work better...
Thinkenstein (author)  valhallas_end4 years ago
A problem with casting a hollow form in the mold using grout would be the time it takes for the grout to harden up for removal from the mold, and the need for a mold release agent.  The aluminum foil parts can be popped out of the mold as soon as they are finished. 

A big advantage to grout sculpture is that you don't have to fire it, so you save energy and can make things larger than the kiln needed to fire clay pieces. 
Hmm, I see what you mean.  Out of curiosity, how did you strike upon grout as the ideal for your work?  Did you just happen to have some on hand for your first attempt and try it, or are there other sculptors that steered you to this medium?  One of my cousins is going to college for art (some sort of graphic design - he is an incredible pencil artist and painter), but sculpting is one of his hobbies, also lacking a kiln like me though...
Thinkenstein (author)  valhallas_end4 years ago
I have done a lot of construction with cement, and have done some cement sculptures.  In the course of construction, I learned about grout and gave it a try for sculpture.  I would be surprised if other artists weren't already using it for sculpture, but nobody told me. 

Since cement shrinks, you can't put unshrinking things, like glass bottles, in it or the cement will crack.  Unshrinking grout gets around that problem.  Mostly, I use light-weight core materials, like plastic bottles, Styrofoam, or aluminum foil. 


rimar20004 years ago
You are an artist. If I try to do a Donald Duck, sure I get a Mickey Mouse!!!
Thinkenstein (author)  rimar20004 years ago
Thanks.   Try holding Mickey's nose down while giving him an upper cut to the jaw.