I wanted to take a try at papercrete. Cement/Concrete with recycled paper pulp. There are a lot of examples of using it to fabricate bricks for building and for art. I guess I could have built a mini papercrete mixer but how about just jumping in and using cement mix as the glue for papier mache? I needed some decorations for the garden but I was not geared up to do concrete casting nor did I want to get into forming armatures or wireforms from rebar and wire mesh. Strolling down the home center aisle, there are many cement products to use. They had this Surface Bonding Cement/Quikwall product that is composed of cement mix and reinforcement fibers. It is supposed to cure to be water resistant to some degree too so it would be good for the final product to be outdoors. This would be perfect to experiment with. It was also about $20 bucks a bag so relatively inexpensive to see what it was capable of. It is a proprietary mix that would probably be difficult or more costly to make on your own.

CAUTION: Read the instructions that come with the cement/concrete mix. Follow directions for use and safety precautions.

Step 1: Rock, paper, scissors...

Some things to think about...

1. Concrete or cement products don't actually dry. They take a very long time to cure which is a chemical process. Some concretes can be cured submerged in water.

2. Which brings us to this, don't attempt a big concrete project a few days before the deadline to enter the concrete contest. It'll cure when it wants to.

3. Concrete is heavy. Getting a 50 lb bag home from the store may be a chore.

4. Concrete depends on having enough water around to cure properly. Too much or too little affects the quality of the concrete. It is as much science as it is an art.

5. The supporting structure or form should be water resistant and strong enough when wet to hold up to the concrete. Which means raw cardboard not so good. Use rigid foam cut from sheets/blocks or spray on.

6. Concrete is highly alkaline. Anything embedded in it should resist the chemicals in cement/concrete. It is tough on exposed skin. Wash with vinegar to neutralize the reaction. Wear rubber or nitrile gloves when working with concrete.

7. Try not to breathe the dust or particles from the concrete powder. Use a dust mask and full clothing.

8. Mix with power tools if you can. It is hard work.

9. When mixing or using, concrete splatters all over the place. Do outdoors where you can be messy.

10. Almost like playing with mud, a little more funner.

11. Cement is the term properly used for just the binding agents. When mixed with aggregates/stone/sand to give it strength, the mix is concrete.

12. You never want a pair of cement shoes nor do you want to deal with anyone who wants to make you some.

So what do you need to get started?

A bag of cement mix, I used the Surface Bonding Cement. You might be able to improvise with the other sand topping mixes, acrylic fortified patching cement, stucco mixes, essentially the stuff without the big rocks and gravel.


Mixing implements that will be stuck with cement residue afterwards. You shouldn't really clean up in the sink if you want to prevent any major repair clogs. Rinse off with a garden hose outside and capture runoff to dispose of properly when dried.

Plenty of newspaper and cardboard.

A heavy duty stapler or lots of tape.

Utility knife or heavy duty shears to cut the cardboard

Rubber or nitrile gloves to protect your hands.

Dust mask and safety glasses as additional protection.

<p>It looks lovely =D</p>
<p>This is great. I've wanted to make cement sculptures in the past, but never tried due to some assumed complexity of the task. I would never have even considered doing it like this. I love it!</p>
<p>I haven't tried but the same thing would work using drywall compound for indoor statues or figures. You could start with that.</p>
<p>I too wonder how this will hold up since it's hollow and concrete sucks at spanning gaps(which is why they use so much rebar in bridges). </p>
<p>The end product is a solid fine grained concrete shell which has dispersed random fiberglass strands which acts like steel rebar. Fiber reinforced concrete can be used in place of traditional rebar in many instances saving cost and labor to set up. I've essentially made laminated fiber reinforced concrete about 1/4 inch thick maybe. </p>
I love this idea! If I had the time I would love to do this!
<p>I'd be interested to see how this lasts, given the alkalinity you mentioned. Alkali chemicals are used during papermaking to break down the lignins and some of the cellulose of the fibres, so papercrete<em> may</em> degrade with time.</p>
<p>Dang, I knew I should have made a Kiteman garden gnome instead.</p><p>I do plan on putting it in the garden, maybe coat it with concrete sealer too. It is an ongoing experiment as I was originally going to try making hypertufa patio stones- cement with peat moss. Papercrete is usually protected from the elements when used in buildings. I am expecting it to become porous but the embedded fiberglass strands should still hold up forming the supporting matrix. It may then be more conducive to grow a cool coating of moss. Maybe I will just turn it into a giant Chia Pet.</p>
<p>Oh, that would look awesome!</p><p>(Maybe a me-gnome would have been ready earlier, curing more quickly, thanks to my <a rel="nofollow">dry wit</a>...)</p>
<p>Bobblehead Kiteman garden gnome with solar light up bowtie on the to-do list...</p>
<p>My dad would be proud...</p>
<p>(It looks like comment links are broken now...)</p>
<p>It was <a href="http://instantrimshot.com/index.php?sound=rimshot&play=true" rel="nofollow"> http://instantrimshot.com/index.php?sound=rimshot...</a></p>
&quot;hello mister gopher!&quot;
<p>Howdy neighbor!</p>
Caddy shack.. ?
<p>Allow me to introduce you to one of the greatest animation movies of all time <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Neighbor_Totoro" rel="nofollow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Neighbor_Totoro</a></p><p>Although, Caddyshack was good too.</p>
<p>I love this idea! Concrete sealer is a good idea or maybe try a resin like Enviro Tex lite is has a low odor easy to mix and to use, I use it to seal stuff all the time.</p>
<p>Seeing as how the newspaper just fell apart, maybe the use of rags or scrap fabric material would be better for the base. They do make bandage casts that way. I'll have to experiment with some of those concrete pigments for color.</p>

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