A little something about Elmer's glue as admix.

tufaenoughJune 22, 2005

I've spent a quite a bit of my time trying to make strong recipes.

This is not even close to my strongest recipe but it is made with Elmer's glue

This window for one of my Japanese lanterns is still wet, 3 days old. Once cured it will be snow white when dry and unbreakable in my hands. I've tested this.

It's already been scraped with a knife, filed, and brushed with a steel wire brush to expost the ags.

That is an AA battery to judge size

I have frozen and thawed this recipe and left it out in the weather for about 3 months. It's plenty waterproof, and plenty strong.Thank you Elmers!:)

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rustinj(z7 AL)

Interesting! That brings me back to my lime wash questions. Weak acids (vinegar) are used to isolate casein from milk. The resulting casein is added to lime wash (water saturated with calcium hydroxide) becaues it forms calcium caseinate, which binds much better than calcium carbonate (lime + CO2).

So here's the recipe for "Elmer's" Glue. What ingredient do you think is doing the binding?
1 quart skim milk
3/4 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white vinegar
10 ounces water

Place milk and vinegar in a double boiler. Cook on low heat and stir as curds form. Drain off liquid. Wash remaining mass with water until the vinegar smell is gone. Put into a clean bowl. Dissolve baking soda in water. Pour over curds and stir until a white paste forms. Seal in suitable containers.

This tells me that you probably don't want too much glue in the mix or it will weaken it in the long run??? I can't imagine calcium caseinate being better than calcium carbonate for long-term stability. My guess is that's why it's mostly used for adding new concrete to old concrete, rather than as a fortifier. It sounds like the purpose is strictly to get the two to initially stick together, allowing other reactions to stabilize the bond.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 4:43PM
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Words for word right off the the gallon of Elmers glue:

As a fortifier in concrete mix: Use 300mL adhesive and 150mL water combined per ten pounds of concrete mix. add more water if required.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 5:20PM
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rustinj(z7 AL)

I know what it says...I'm hoping someone can tell me why.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 5:57PM
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Concrete is considered to be a 'black Art' by some folks, including the owner of my local batch plant.
I'm still trying to figure out why the phone always rings when I'm on the can.:)

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 6:19PM
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Dyas(Z8 WA)

At last! Some of my esoteric fountain-pen knowledge *may* come in handy!

Years back, pen barrels were, for a while, made with casein. AFAIK, nothing else--just casein. And when submerged in water for a long period, they dissolved. (Ink didn't bother them because it was isolated from the casein by rubber sacs.)

A couple of companies nowadays are using casein for some very high-end pens, and yes--they come with instructions to keep them away from water. Go figure.

I, too, am baffled as to why water-soluble substances can strengthen 'tufa, or concrete, for that matter. Doesn't make sense intuitively, and I don't know the chemistry.


    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 7:37PM
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rustinj(z7 AL)

Ha! Black magic, indeed. I wonder if milk protein has become the standard simply because it was readily available back in the old days, or if there's something special about casein? I guess we'll never know. I think if you look hard enough you can find that just about everything has some particular use as an admix for concrete :) Anna, that's an interesting tidbit. I'm stumped!

TE, good luck with the search for the indestructible mix!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 8:59PM
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With silica fume added it's pretty tough stuff but not white.:)
These concrete recipes meet my needs.
Strong lightweight tufa that resists freeze and thaw is a far tougher challenge.
Concrete experts are so unfamilar with the properties of tufa made with peat that they give you completely conflicting advice on making it strong.
I just have no desire to make stuff that has to be put away for winter to last more than a few years.
Indestructable tufa that floats! That's the Holy Grail.:)

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 10:45PM
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rustinj(z7 AL)

Amen to that! That's why all of my tufa projects up to this point are for indoor use. Although, I think the thieves would get it before the weather would. A neighborhood friend actually saw someone pull up to someone's house, dig up their plants, load them in the truck, and take off :(
I guess I should be looking for admixes to prevent that...broken glass is pretty :)

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 11:09PM
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Buddyfly(4A/4B Ont)

David, that is a fantastic lantern window! Great job! How did you do the window cutouts? Love the texture!


    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 12:23AM
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Thanks Marly.
I decided if I'm going to use a big candle I want a fireproof window.:)
I just glued little styrofoam blocks to a styrofoam sheet and put a frame around them and filled it with the concrete
Then just ripped it off.
But my new mold will use wood pegs in the styrofoam for the windows so it's reusable.
I already have a mold made using 3/4 inch dowels for round little windows. It should look pretty cool.

The texture comes from course silica filter sand sold for swimming pool filters and stuff like that. Only a couple bucks more than play sand and it has a nicer color in my view.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 12:46AM
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Is the aggregate in the mix or just on the outside parts? I tried larger(pea size) stones in a mix and didn't see much of the stones. Really like the look Tufaenough.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 1:50AM
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Hi Paws
The aggregate is in the mix. It's the only sand in the mix.

I'm just finishing up a tufa pot with pea sized exposed aggregate, but only in the feet. I like the look.
I cast on the outside of forms so it easy to expose the aggregate with a wire brush while the mix is still very soft.
To this point in my tufa hobby I've avoided strong chemicals like acids and stuck to vinegar and good ole fashioned elbow grease but if your mix has hardened up you might need to try it to get those rocks to show.
There are surface retarders, used on sidewalks and such but I've never used them.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 2:03AM
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Its on my list of "to gets".

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 2:16AM
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Paws if you are casting inside a mold, after oiling it up you might try sprinkling powdered sugar on the mold.
Just like flower dusting a cake pan.:)
The sugar might retard your surface enough that after unmolding a good brushing might give you the look you want.
I haven't tried it but will first chance I get.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 2:25AM
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dian57(M-H Valley NY-5)

Don't know if this helps or is relevent but here goes.

Years ago I spoke with a man who did stamped concrete. I loved the look he created with contrasting areas of smooth and "bumpy." He said to attain that, he painted molasses on the areas he wanted to be bumpy. After 2-3 hours (I think) he washed the molasses off, exposing the bumpy surface. It was something I always meant to experiment with and never got around to it.

Does this sound right to you experienced cement/tufa artists?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 6:34AM
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Dian it even sounds right to this inexperienced cement/tufa crafter.
I can hardly wait to try that. It makes perfect sense.
Thanks for the great tip.
Now I a three uses for molasses. Bread, beans, and TufaCrete!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 11:16AM
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You can use molasses as a sticking agent when applying spray mixes to plants. 4 uses now!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 11:47AM
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spidrbear(Kansas City)


what recipe are you using, and how much elmers glue are you using?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2005 at 4:25PM
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For the little window the Elmers and water were about 50/50.
The recipe was about 2.5 very course sand to one Portlands and white pigment.
Future stuff like this will probably contain at least one part fine sand to help avoid voids.
I use Elmers contractors glue and Acrylic admix interchangably. They both provide me with stronger tufa earlier than recipes without either.

But then I made two small bricks, using acrylic admix in one, and some very old previously frozen latex paint in the other, and if anything the brick made with the old paint is harder and has a nicer finish than the one made with acrylic admix.
Concrete is a very strange critter. :)
There seems to be no end of stuff you can add to it.
I read on the net that a faux bois artist used cornflour in some of his work. Now that makes no sense to me.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2005 at 4:46PM
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