Why not make your Halloween designs last forever?! You guessed it these are all concrete!…
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.
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…
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…