Japanese lantern made of Hypertufa

rufreticMarch 8, 2013

Hello,
Just wanted to say thanks for the help making my first Hypertufa project a successful one and share my progress. Maybe it can help someone else in the future.

So this project started because I wanted a Japanese lantern in my garden but once I found out you can't find one for under $1000, at least the size I wanted, I decided to try making my own. At that point I never heard of hypertufa and was going to use concrete. Once I started researching I found out about hypertufa and then this forum. Anyway, I learned a lot here and decided on what I thought was a good recipe, adding my own touch of course and couldn't be happier!

The mix:

1 part peat moss
1 part perlite
1 part portland cement
1 part black blast(looks like black sand)
1/3 concrete bonding additive
and a handful of synthetic fiber mesh for the larger pieces that I thought could use the extra strength, base & top

So far it seems to be working out as the perfect mix I was looking for. I wanted strong, heavy and to look like granite stone. So far it seems strong, it is very heavy but not quite as bad as concrete and the finished look is pretty nice in my opinion, of course it doesn't look exactly like granite but way more interesting than concrete.

I started simple, just tried the little round topper piece to make sure the mix was good and see what I was getting myself into. I just used a medium size bowl, filled it about 1 1/2" and let it set for a day. Popped it out and was pretty dissapointed with the look. Then I found out the trick, electric drill with a hard wire bruch bit. Sanded down all the dull finish and got a pretty nice looking spotty with black specks and little craters finish. Very cool stuff, but a lot more work than I thought.

Next I started making molds for all the other pieces, most out of wood but had to get creative for a few, grill cover, large planter with carved styrofoam mold and so on. I have everything made except the top which I'm still designing but wanted to share my progress so far. I have a ton of pics but I'm not sure how many I can post. I'll try a few to start and add more later including a finished product eventually.

If you have any questions let me know.

Lou

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rufretic

Mold for windows.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 9:57AM
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rufretic

Base plate made with wood frame

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:01AM
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rufretic

Styrofoam mold made for main base/legs

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:03AM
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rufretic

Pot used for main base/legs covered with plastic and rebar positioned for extra strength.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:06AM
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rufretic

Main base/legs with styrofoam insert, filled and now the long wait to see how it turned out

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:10AM
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rufretic

The topers

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:12AM
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rufretic

The topers are the only pieces to have fully dried yet so they are much lighter and give you a better idea of the final color. I tried to get a close up so you can see the finished color and detail/texture and maybe see how the black blast adds a nice black sparkle, not sure if you can make it ou in the picture though. This is the last pic for now but I'll follow up with the main top and finished product when I'm done.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 10:19AM
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rufretic

One more just to give you an idea where I'm going with this, just a quick mock up of some of the pieces I have done so far.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 4:42PM
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rufretic

The mold for the main base worked pretty well, it's a little small compared to the rest of the lantern but I couldn't find any container larger that had the shape I wanted.
Now I just have to pour the top.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 12:46AM
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karmicforager

Wow, that is fantastic! I have been wanting to do this for a long time. Your ideas will be a big help! Can't wait to see the finished product!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 12:17AM
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rufretic

I'm glad it will be a help to you! I'm just glad someone even saw it lol, it seems like this forum doesn't get a lot of traffic. I'll continue to follow up until it's 100%. I just finished refinishing the top, it was a lot of work! Took me like six hours to grind it all down probably because of the extra hardener I added so it doesn't break in half. It's way heavier than I planned but I'm hoping it will still lighten up a bit as it drys. My wife and I couldn't even pick it up together to put it on top so now I'm waiting for it to dry more. I'll add a few pictures of what I went through to make the top in a little bit.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 11:50AM
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rufretic

Here is the mold I built for the top, of course it's not finished in this pic but gives you an idea how I made it.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 12:26PM
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rufretic

Here is the top with about two hours of grinding done. It got a little faster as it went but took way too long, least fun part of the project :-(

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 12:29PM
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rufretic

Here is the bonded windows, it shows how I added rebar at each corner to help support the weight of the top piece. I hope it's strong enough!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 12:33PM
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rufretic

This picture shows the size of the top and a can for overall size, it's going to be pretty large about 40" tall I think.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 12:38PM
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rufretic

I got the top on but it looks a little bulky. I might try to grind it down a little to make it a little thinner. I'll post a new pic if I do.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 1:05PM
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oldgraymare(4 WI)

That looks amazing!! Now I want to make one. :)

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 10:28AM
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rufretic

Thank you! I can't wait to put it out in the yard to get the full affect. I'll get some better pictures once I have it outside, the lighting in my basement is horrible!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2013 at 10:25PM
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Jetherina(5b)

Wow, I love the lantern, what a great job!!!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 7:24PM
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stacyevans33

it looks pretty awesome.. are you going to grind the whole thing? after having completed it, what would you do differently next time around?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 1:51PM
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stacyevans33

it looks pretty awesome.. are you going to grind the whole thing? after having completed it, what would you do differently next time around?

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 1:53PM
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GeorgeB3

Wow this looks great! This is exactly what one of my summer projects is...making japanese lanterns of of hypertufa.

I have a few questions I hoped you could answer:
1. Where did you get the black blast? (What kind of store?)
2. Did you create each of the 6 panels of the fire box individually and then bond them together or did you create them as one unit? If you bonded them together, what did you use?
3. The concrete bonding additive...is that different than fiberglass fibers added to the mix?
Thanks!

George

    Bookmark   May 4, 2013 at 6:36PM
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billie_ann(6b PA)

Rufretic, You did a great job on your lantern.
George, Until the original poster comes back I'll take a guess.
The black ingredient could be a sandblast media. I have an industrial supply house near me where I buy media for my blast cabinet. Blast media comes in different material and grits. I use a fine silica for etching glass and metal. They even have corn cob and walnut shells besides other abrasives.
From the pictures above, he/she made the window sections separately then mortared the corners together and added rebar at each join. Don't know what they used for a mortar.
Concrete bonding additive is different than the fibers he/she added. Not sure why either was used, the original poster can answer that. A bonding additive is used when you're applying new concrete or plaster to old concrete or plaster. Synthetic fibers are used for very thin sculptural pieces or very large construction like bridges or buildings. A few years back, it was the rage to add fibers. Their tricky to add to a mix. If not added correctly, (there are several different kind too) they can clump up and form big hair balls in the mix. If you add too much they can leave you with a hairy planter/lantern. Think it was recommended to burn them off the outside of the planter. Why bother when you don't need them. I still have two bags that a concrete contractor gave me. They throw these bags (usually 1 bag and their not that big, about 10 inches square and 2 or 3 inches thick) into the concrete mixing trucks.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2013 at 10:00AM
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JasonInPDX

VERY NICE! You should make an Instructable for this, too!

Here is a link that might be useful: Instructables

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 3:16PM
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Mertie(Z5 MI)

rufretic~ Very nice Japanese Lantern! I really love your design.
You do amazing work! Also love the texture of the pieces.
Thanks for taking the time to post pics and explanation as you progress. Such detail in your molds, you must be an expert in drafting and design.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2013 at 9:08PM
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rufretic

Hey guys,
Thanks for all the complements. Sorry I havn't been on here in a while to answer all the questions, I've been super busy with work. I wish this forum would email me if I get a response but I guess I just have to check every once in a while.

Anyway, I'll try to answer some of the questions even though it's been a while.

1, the black blast was purchased at Menards by where they have sand and concrete mix.
2, panels where all made individualy because I couldn't figure a way to make a mold that would be easy to unassemble once the hypertufa dried. I bonded them together with a bonding mix I got from Menards.
3, the bonding additive is a liquid I got from Menards as well. I added it because I read on here it makes it stronger and if I remember right more weather proof. I did also add fibers to the stand piece because I was worried about a leg breaking with all the weight, just the top has got to be close to 200lbs! Bonding additive and fibers may have been overkill but I didn't want to put in all this time to have a leg break and have the whole thing fall and break apart.

I hope that helps.

I added a pic of the lantern in my yard. I think it looks ok but I want it to age quicker so next project is moss paint!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 9:05PM
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westande(z7NC)

Hey Lou,
Very new to hypertufa. I have some Elephant Ear plants that grew very well this year and really wanted to make some hypertufa leafs. They turned out pretty good for my first venture into this process. I just love your Japanese lantern but I am not sure I would be able to make the molds you made. You must be a very skilled carpenter as well.
Wanted to know what you used as a grinder. Was it just a Dremel-type device?
Thanks for posting and hope to see more of this or other projects you have made. I too see that this forum does not get much traffic. Have you found other sites/groups that do a lot of hypertufa? I would love to get some more ideas and see what people are doing. I do see a lot of leaf projects so mine is certainly not original.

Ande in NC

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 9:52AM
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rufretic

Check out my first post, the picture with the drill. That is what I used. It is a wire bristle bit I guess you could say. I'm not sure the real name but it is a bit you just use with any drill. I like my battery drill for ease of use but after doing so much of it I had to switch to an electric drill because I would of burnt out my batterys.

As for other projects, I did make a couple more lanterns and a water basin made to look like a natural stone. I'll go take a couple pics if it's not too dark yet and post them.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 6:19PM
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rufretic

Ok, got some pics even though it's already dark, just used the flash. You'll have to excuse all the white stuff, we just got our first snow :-)
This first one would have been my favorite but I jacked up the main lantern peice when I was trying to drill out the wood blocks used for the windows. I used a charcoal dye in the mix, otherwise it's the same. Once I finish drilling out the wood blocks, I will resurface where the glue marks are from when I had to glue it all back together but for now I'm going to just let it sit outside until spring. Once that's fixed it might still turn out pretty cool.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 6:53PM
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rufretic

This one is the same as the original mix. It's just a simple little guy. No special molds just bowls you can find around the house, anyone could make it. I just carved a peice of styrofoam for the window and stuck it in the bowl for the center peice. The legs are just hand molded in a bowl, just add a little less water for that mix so you can shape it. This one was made for my mother in law but now I kind of like it lol.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 7:01PM
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rufretic

Here is the water basin. I'll make a new post explaining how I made this peice.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2013 at 7:04PM
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enduring(5a)

love seeing your project. If you want to be given emailings when there are post made on the thread just check the box at the bottom, below the area where you type messages and add url link - See it?

I think I might try some of this stuff :)

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 12:58PM
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OffbeatJenn

Very inspiring, thanks for sharing. :-)

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 1:30PM
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rufretic

Thanks everyone. I made another small one withe a little different design. I'll try to get a picture of it when I get a chance.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2014 at 7:41PM
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martin_w(6)

This is awesome! Gonna make myself one out of papercrete. Thanks for inspiring me

    Bookmark   February 17, 2014 at 12:58AM
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