Tharrr Be Dragon Lairs! Concrete and Bubble Wrap





Introduction: Tharrr Be Dragon Lairs! Concrete and Bubble Wrap

About: ShapeCrete is a just-add-water-and-use, shape-able concrete that can be poured, rolled, pushed or molded in an infinite array of custom concrete designs. ShapeCrete is rolling out in hardware stores across t...

After being inspired by the way Butong uses bubble wrap to form concrete into pond linings, facades, building elements, and vertical gardens, we had to try it with ShapeCrete. So we tried it, and it's really easy to do on a small scale, but exactly what were these things we made? They're neat pieces to look at, but they didn't serve a purpose, so they just sat on the shelf for a year or so until one day Kevan asked if we have anything that could work as a Lair for his son Marcel's Bearded Dragon.

YES! Finally a use for one of those weird looking things on the shelf. But it was too small... So we made Marcel a larger version that was taller and with a dent in the top for a log to rest.

Materials and Supplies:

  • 5-10 lbs. ShapeCrete
  • Plastic Planter and Cup or similar
  • 2x Bubble Wrap (24"x24")
  • Scissors
  • Mixing Supplies

Step 1: Prepare Form and Cut Bubble Wrap

Looking around the shop, there were a few things that might work as the form to drape the bubble wrap over.

This white plastic planter was about the right size, but it wasn't quite long enough, so a green plastic cup was placed behind it. This worked out great because the gap in between them actually formed the dent for the log.

The plastic planter was screwed down to a board so it couldn't move around. This helps a lot if you're working by yourself and don't have an extra pair of hands to drape the bubble wrap later.

Mark out the approximate shape with a marker and then cut the bubble wrap with scissors. Do this a second time so you have two pieces of bubble wrap that are about the same size.

Step 2: Pour on ShapeCrete

Mix ShapeCrete to a consistency that is flowable, but not too wet.

Press and smooth the mix down into the bubbles.

Step 3: Bubble Wrap Sandwich

Make a bubble wrap sandwich by pressing the second piece of bubble wrap down and sandwiching the mix in between. Make sure the bubbles are facing down.

Smoosh it down until you don't see much air trapped between the two layers.

Step 4: Drape Over Form

Slide it over the top of the form, making sure the bubble wrap stays pushed together.

Take your time and get everything into position. Then cover the piece with plastic and leave it to cure for about 2 or 3 days.

Step 5: Remove Plastic Forms and Peel Off Bubble Wrap

If you don't wait long enough for the piece to cure, it's liable to break when you tear the bubble wrap off if you're not careful.

Be careful and go slowly and peel it all away. If the bubbles were broken, you'll have some bits of plastic stuck in there that you can remove later.

Pro-Tip: Don't forget that if the plastic captures what you've draped it over (in this case, the green cup), that piece will be stuck. The green cup got captured and it wouldn't come out until it was broken into smaller pieces... Ideally you would use something less rigid, like a styrofoam cup, and it will be a lot easier to remove.

Step 6: Sand Edges

Now that the piece is more or less finished, we can sand the edges with a file, sandpaper, or diamond hand pads.

If you need to remove a lot of material, you can use an angle grinder with a cupped grinding disc or similar.

The piece is so thin in some places that light passes through it...

Step 7: Fill and Prepare Aquarium

Now for the install.

Marcel fills the aquarium with sand, buries his Dragon's new lair, lays the log over top, and puts in a bit of foliage to decorate the new home.

After Christmas vacation he'll get (another) Bearded Dragon and then we'll be able to see how he/she likes the new home.

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    12 Discussions

    I hope you are not planning to put a male to male or male to female ratio when you get another bearded dragon or put a baby bearded dragon with and adult bearded dragon. One more thing, sand kills bearded dragons, try reptile carpet. Please do your research. Though, good idea for the lair! :)

    1 reply

    Hey BoatGuy, Thanks for the tips!

    I'll pass them along to the owners of the dragon lair. They don't have another dragon yet, and I'll make sure they look into reptile carpet.

    Neat project! I like that the material should be easy to clean and that it provides lots of grip texture for a reptile to climb.

    I would love to use this in my aquarium to make small caves for my shrimp. I assume that ShapeCrete could alter the pH though. First question: does it alter pH of water when submerged? If so, do you know of a product that could be used similarly that doesn't alter pH?

    3 replies

    These are good questions. ShapeCrete is cement based, and cement is alkaline (pH around 12). This will definitely leach into the water as the piece is curing. However, they do make aquariums and fake rock formations out of concrete, so it could just be a matter of waterproofing and sealing the piece. One idea would be to make the caves and then let them soak in water for as long as possible and let them leach out, then use an aquarium safe sealer, possibly polyurea or an epoxy sealer. Test the pH before and after soaking the piece to see if it's going to have an effect you can't correct. From the quick research I've done, you might look into a mix called Thorite by Thoroseal, but I don't think it will have the same workability as ShapeCrete.

    On the same note, if you're making planters out of concrete or ShapeCrete, soaking them in water should help leach out some of the alkalinity. Some plants are more sensitive than others and a higher soil pH could affect them. I don't do this and haven't noticed any issues in the dozens of planters I've made with ShapeCrete and regular concrete. Hope this helps.

    i cant say one way or the otehr, but... what about regular concrete?

    seriously cool effect mate, deffo going to use this

    I'd live in that

    i hope u are getting a baby dragon and not an older one because that will only hold a dragon from 0-9 months

    1 reply

    Thanks Sloth, I'm sure they're getting a baby but I'll pass that info along.

    I love the texture! I would have never thought to use bubble wrap and concrete!