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With great satisfaction I am happy to share the second part of the Faux Bois chair. Settle in, there is much to show you but it’s all fun! Here’s to bringing back an old art form; this Concrete Faux Bois UpCycled Chair part 2!

What I use:

I use the concrete that I have come to like working with. I know it may be unconventional but I use a fast-setting concrete mix; RapidSet Cementall for the textural details as the main structural part 1 was done with the Portland Cement. This concrete mix sets very quickly but I don’t mind as I work in small sections and it allows much to get done quickly and cures rock hard.

It is unlike regular mixes as it will become quite moldable after a half-minute wait and initially takes very little water. If the temperatures are high use ice cold water to slow things a bit. I only mix about a cup at a time. For further retarding you can add some diluted Citric Acid. I am not sure how much exactly as you will have to experiment. Most days it was about 25 degrees C and in the shade here.

My tools of choice are artist’s palette knives as they are very flexible and also thin to use sideways. Smear some of the RapidSet Cementall on the dampened structure (always dampen older concrete first) and add your texture. There are many types of tree bark to imitate. Keep the direction of the branches in mind as you work.

You can use a wire brush, or old scrubby brush to add smaller line details. I’d say it is much like sculpting or even cake decorating!

The Fun Part:

This is supposed to emulate nature so feel free to add some branch sections keeping the growing direction in mind. Add a little nub…

Using a palette knife add the bark texture into the main branch.

Often the cut branch shows some wood details & rings in the end. If the scratching has left much ‘crumbs’ they can be delicately brushed away with a soft dry brush.

You can brush with water if you wan to smooth out some but be careful not to brush out too much of the concrete ‘cream’ as then the sand will be mostly left on the surface.

Slowly but Surely:

You knew it was going to take a bit of time… Get your self a comfortable seat and work section by section incorporating how the ‘branches’ meet and overlap.

Ends can have a weathered detail of broken bark as well. I kept looking at the trees around me.

The Winding Vines:

You can certainly just stay with having branches as your style but I also love the way vines wrap and spiral around as they grow. My old Honey Suckle Arbour gave me much inspiration!

To achieve this I employed the same technique as I have used for my draped projects like the Spook; dipping fabric into cement. For the fine texture of vine I used a thinner but still absorbent fabric; cotton flannel sheeting. Rip strips and soak (and massage) well until it is saturated. Run the strip through your fingers and rid the excess.

You can now act like ‘Mother Nature’ and ‘grow’ around the branches, spiralling upward! It will add a texture that accents the bark of the branches and will also cover any areas you did not want to address.

The wrinkles of the twisted fabric are pretty well already perfect but you can also add in more texture as the portland cement does set much slower.

Any ‘crumbs’ can again be brushed with a dry brush.

Yes, Even more Details!

Yes, I know I tend to be quite detail oriented! That’s the curse of being an artist. It’s not just ‘fake wood’, it’s also fake leaves. But these are the easiest parts ever! I grabbed a few fresh ones nearby and used the RapidSet Cementall again.

Lacy-Leaves-Concrete-Circle--madebybarb-5

Mix some of the mix, let it sit for a minute and then it will pliable enough to put on the back of a leaf (much like this project)

Quickly flip it onto a section where it seems natural for a leaf to grow from vine. This can fill some small sections where you don’t want to add branch/vein details.

I love how this adds a different design to the piece. I have not seen any of this in the old craft of Faux Bois!

Finish up all sides with the bark texture, vines and leaves as desired. (make sure to use the proper concrete for each)

The Different Colours:

Tada! Love it! However, the colours of the different mixes did bother me a bit…

Another layer:

Again, this is optional. To bring the cement colour more even I gave the branches a thin coat of Portland cement slurry. Don’t add too much as it will fill in the details that you created. The purpose is to bring the grey colour closer together.

The portland cement is very fine since it does not have sand it is so it also smooths somewhat.

Not Done Yet:

As with the post of making concrete look aged I wanted to accentuate the texture. Don’t worry, it’s an super easy paint technique.

I HATE brightly painted concrete, I hate painted concrete! This is meant to just get a bit of ‘dirt’ into the crevices. Mix a thin watery mix of some acrylic paint (a warm dark grey/black) and bit of matte medium and liberally let it run into the crevices. Wipe any excess off with a rag.

It will (should) magically just get into the details. I aim to keep the surfaces the original weathered grey colour of concrete.

You can use an acrylic meant for exterior use like Patio Paint. Red, yellow, white and black will mix into a warm grey.

To further accent the details, dry the brush well and put a tiny amount of a light warm (yellow + red) white on the brush and use a rag to get most off. Then very sparingly rub it across the surface; this is called dry-brushing. It is amazing how much it will give dimension! See here how it did not metallics. I’d say it’s one of the most valuable painting techniques to learn.

When you are done it does not look like a painted concrete, no one will really notice and if it does eventually weather off it will not be as noticeable as when big areas of colour chip off. Perfect! If you feel it is too rough in any sections you can also give it a sanding with some strong emery cloth! I did a bit on the seat section just be reassurance…

This Concrete Faux Bois UpCycle Chair can so much to look at! Who needs live-edge wood?! Concrete is better!

My fitting addition of a concrete Faux Bois UpCycled Chair to the jungle of my garden…

Don’t feel this always needs to be a big piece; it could also be just a planter, a table. The hard part is limiting yourself! See all the concrete projects! And Part 1

barbmaker

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

This Post Has 22 Comments
  1. You have really put your heart and talents into this project. I LOVE it!!!! It looks so amazing. I need to give this a try. I am thinking about maybe a small plant stand to try this on. Or a cute little Bonsai stand. I hope you make some more Concrete Faux Bois items!

    1. I think this art form is so forgiving as any little issue can be camouflaged easily. It’s as magical as Eco printing… I’m seeing a theme in my work! Who would have thought?!

  2. You state that you’re an artist. I think you’re a GENIUS! Wish I had your ability, talent to see outside the box and the willingness to GO outside the box…. keep doing what you’re doing and sharing. THANK YOU.

    1. Thanks! I also teach at a college and I see how most will just declare; ‘I have no ideas’! Once you let yourself explore all kinds of options it really is simple. I think many great artists were partly insane… 😉 I have many years of experience of different media so that’s an advantage as well. Observations skills are very valuable as well…

  3. Barb, This is amazing. You should win an award for the best DIY blogging post in 2019. This piece of art is exceptional. I’m going to try a small example to see if I can do it; perhaps, a stool. Thank you for teaching this and for telling your readers the type of cement you use.

  4. Love it! It is absolutely gorgeous! Thanks to you I am about to make my first orb, one day I hope to graduate to this! Keep them coming!

    1. Thanks! I sometimes wonder how I get these ideas, even though ‘faux bois’ is really old, those iron chairs must have been waiting patiently for a make-over! Nature inspired art is seems to be my style. Enjoy!

  5. This is so gorgeous! Question though,, is this real heavy? And could you actually sit on it? Just curious how strong the cement is that is used. I love it.

    1. My intent was that although not super light it can be moved. I’d say it ways about 150lbs, so I can drag around the garden. And Oh yes! you can certainly sit on it! The Rapidset Cementall (no affiliate with them) is much stronger than usual concrete. I used it to pour these heads and they were quite thin. It is quite amazing! I also like it’s moldability but you will need to work a bit quickly!

  6. This is absolutely stunning Barb, I am blown away!!! Now I have to up my game!! I have a couple questions for you, do you let one concrete cure before adding another or do you add another before it all cures? If I understand this correctly, they bond together so there is no chipping apart in the future? Secondly, do you use any kind of sealer on the concrete after you paint it?
    I am so impressed by your work! Thanks and please keep it up!!

    1. I have had good results adding as long as I dampen the set concrete first. I even fixed my sidewalk a few years ago with a top layer and I’m amazed as it gets driven over often by a garbage truck! The texture layer of the Rapidset Cementall bonds well, and is a much stronger than usual concrete (these coasters amazed me!). On the subject of sealers; once you cross that line it’s something that needs to be repeated. I see the driveways that shine beautifully at first and then look milky and spotty later on. As an artist I like the way concrete ages in it’s most natural form, but that is my own opinion. My spook has been sitting on the stump through Canada’s weather for a few years now…

  7. Fantastic idea and even better execution. Amazing!

    Now I know what to do with two lawn chairs I was going to throw out. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. I can’t wait to do this project! Have you ever tried using silk vines and flowers for your cement projects? Wondering if that would hold up?
    Thank you in advance!

  9. I came upon your blog by chance a couple of days ago. I am so amazed by your projects, they are absolutely wonderful!
    I am very confused by all the cement/concrete stuff though. As I live in Sweden none of the brands you mention exist here so I will have to try and navigate through the concrete jungle on my own. When you use Portland cement, do you use it on its own or do you mix in sand? As I understand it the difference between cement and concrete is the sand or gravel in concrete and it says in all building websites that you can’t use cement without binder (sand).

    1. Yes, that could be a problem. There are many specs on the concrete bags and on their websites. If it states it cures in one hour it would be like our Rapidset Cementall. The other mixes are made with regular portland cement. Yes, it is suggested to have an aggregate like stone or sand, but when I use portland cement for draping the sand always stay in the bucket so I omit it. The ghoul has lasted well, but he does not do much other than sit on a stump so he is fine. This post may help as well. Check out what mixes you have and compare the specs and setting times. I’m sure there must be some comparable mixes! I learn by doing and testing most…

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