book collections email follower instructable user

Step 4: Now for the Details!

What I use:

I use the concrete mix that I have come to really 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 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 (harder than conventional concrete).

It is unlike regular mixes as it will become quite moldable after a half-minute wait. This mix does not use as much water as well and works better if you add the water first. 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 so I managed without adding a retarder, using small amounts.

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; some thick some less. 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 branches.

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 want 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.