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 the…

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.

Animal Innovations Contest

Second Prize in the
Animal Innovations Contest