Introduction: Translucent Cement DIY (+ Constellation Installation)

After discovering the cool-ness that is translucent cement and finding nepheron's Instructable, I started dreaming up ways to use this material combination.

I started playing around with nature-based themes and ended up making 56 cement panels embedded with monofilament. Each panel represents one constellation – the sum represents all constellations found in all seasons in the Northern Hemisphere.

I hung each panel on galvanized steel mesh spread taut across a metal pipe frame that rests 4 feet above a layer of sod. The final piece was set up at night on a city sidewalk under a street light as part of an art show. People could then lay on the sod and look up to see the stars :)

Materials for each cement panel:

Step 1: Prepare a Flat Layer of Oil-based Clay

After a few experiments, I found that the best way to secure the monofilament in a pattern was to use a very flat layer of oil-based clay. To make the layer very flat, I used a marble rolling pin to create a layer slightly larger than my piece of tupperware and about .25 inches thick.

Step 2: Place Layer of Clay Inside Tupperware

Place the flat layer of clay into your tupperware container. Make sure that the clay fits snugly and hugs each side (otherwise the cement will find its way below the clay and can potentially ruin your mold).

I cut the clay layer based on the size of the tupperware opening, which is larger than the bottom, and then slid it into the tupperware so that it came up a bit on each edge. I then used a small knife to cut the clay closer to the bottom and used my finger to smooth out the sides.

Step 3: Transfer Pattern to Clay

To transfer my pattern to the clay, I copied the constellation onto a piece of paper and placed it onto the clay. I then used a pin to make a little hole in the clay. After removing the paper, I used the larger plastic rods, cut into 1-inch segments, to represent the constellation.

Step 4: Add Wire Hooks to Hang the Panel (optional)

Because I was planning to hang each panel, I added hooks to the mold.

Step 5: Fill the Remainder of the Mold With Monofilament

Fill the remainder of your mold with strands of monofilament. I used fishing line cut into 1-2 inch segments.

Step 6: Mix Cement and Pour Into Mold

Mix your cement with water into a slightly fluid consistency and pour it into your mold about 1/2 inch from the clay layer. Make sure to jiggle the mold a little bit to remove air bubbles.

Step 7: Let Dry (ideally Overnight)

Let the cement dry, ideally overnight, though you can get away with as little as 20 minutes depending on your cement manufacturer.

Step 8: Remove From Mold and Clean Up the Panel

Remove your panel from the mold after it has dried. It usually comes out pretty easily if you loosen the sides of the tupperware. The clay should also peal off relatively easily once out of the mold.

I then used nail clippers to clip each strand so that it lays relatively flush with the cement on both sides.

Feel free to also sand all the side (I didn't do this though).

Step 9: Hold the Panel to the Light

And smile as the light shines through :)

Step 10: And the Installation...

After hanging the panels and setting them up on the city street, I took a step back and loved watching people's reactions as they lied down.

More photos + info about the installation on my blog!

Comments

author
sportclimbing made it! (author)2015-10-14

Well now you have me re-thinking the design of my concrete fence column. Great idea of the constellations using concrete, and mono-filament vs a more expensive fiber optic. Have you played around with the length of the line and light brightness? Just curious because my column is fairly wide and I would need to have several inches of line to reach the outside. Thanks for showing your work.

author
asergeeva made it! (author)asergeeva2015-10-15

Sounds like a fun project! I only used up to a few inches of monofilament during my experimentation but I assume that it will work regardless of the length - perhaps try a thicker line in your case. And share photos here :)

author
StefanL3 made it! (author)2015-10-12

yes. that is awesome.

"fishing line" links directly to the amazon fishing line. that one was 60lb test. obviously you did some experimenting. did you like that line thickness? would you go smaller or larger?

author
asergeeva made it! (author)asergeeva2015-10-12

I used both the fishing line I linked to as well as the thicker plastic rods that I linked to as well. It's really up to you and what project you have in mind, but I'd definitely recommend experimenting with a few different thicknesses to see what you like best before starting on your "final" project..

author
Tanya Snively made it! (author)2015-10-11

Flippin' awesome! This is very spiffy- I'll have a lot of fun with this~thanks for 'Instructing!'

author
asergeeva made it! (author)asergeeva2015-10-12

Thank you!!

author
mocinoz made it! (author)2015-10-09

What a great idea!
I have a small project in mind that this would be perfect for.

author
asergeeva made it! (author)asergeeva2015-10-12

Awesome! Definitely share photos here if you make your project :)

author
zappenfusen made it! (author)2015-10-06

Fantastic idea. I've wanted a lighted walkway but had no funds for adequate glass block. This may do the trick with slight modifications. Thanks for the inspiration!

zapp

author
fixfireleo made it! (author)fixfireleo2015-10-06

our local casino has the most awesome bar that is made from genuine agate slices, glazed over with a clear polymer and back lit. i realize that would be too expensive for your walk way but maybe it might give you some other idea.

author
asergeeva made it! (author)asergeeva2015-10-06

Totally! If you do that definitely post a photo here :)

author
mikeasaurus made it! (author)2015-10-06

Wow, this is a really cool idea. I'm saving the transluscent cement idea for later :)

author
asergeeva made it! (author)asergeeva2015-10-06

Thanks! :)

author
Behdan made it! (author)2015-10-06

That is really good!!!

Thanks

author
laith mohamed made it! (author)2015-10-02

Nice and imaginary

author
TasseDeThé made it! (author)2015-10-02

Well documented ible, and nice project ! Thanks for sharing :)

author
xxlauraxx made it! (author)2015-10-01

I didn't know about translucent cement cool.

This project is such a neat idea! Especially for a city, where there's a lot of light pollution and the stars are hard to see.

author
samalert made it! (author)2015-10-01

It would be awesome to lay down and watch

About This Instructable

37,772views

265favorites

License:

Bio: I like to make things.
More by asergeeva:Instructables for TeachersSimple BotsArtCAM Projects
Add instructable to: