Need help planning a 'statue'

fossilnut(Z3-4, NE WA)December 9, 2005

I'm a long-time lurker that has been avidly collecting info for future projects. We've just bought an old cabin on a lake in NE Washington and won't be moving in till Spring. But while we wait, I'm making plans.

I'd like to make some cement statues of things like a frog sitting on a lily pad (that I plan to mount IN the lake. Also like a large turtle brousing in my (also planned for) garden; some ducks (although we have enough of the real variety); a wading bird with long copper tube (or maybe rebar)legs....etc.

How would you suggest I make the form for a statue? I've been toying with getting some old styrofoam and sculpting it from that and then covering with concrete but I'm not sure if the concrete would stick on the foam, if I also need chicken wire or hardware cloth, or how thick I should cover it. Also, at what point could I work on actually sculpting the concrete? I'm guessing that concrete would be best for all of these as they'll be in or near the water.

Really appreciate your suggestions and I'd love to see some of your statues and learn how you made them.



Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Your future projects sound good. I don't know how big you want to go but it sounds like you need some good internal supports. Sheri Warner-Hunter has two books on using concrete as a material for what you want to do. She discusses much more than just crafty ideas. It gets into real lasting art if you want to get serious about it. I can recommend either one highly. I've also included a site that could help you see some other ideas. Sandy

Here is a link that might be useful: D Hill's index

    Bookmark   December 10, 2005 at 2:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Your plans sound wonderful! Hunter's books are a great place to get ideas and tips on making your plans work. I have sculpted styrofoam, covered the foam with lath, and then covered that with a concrete mix. It has held up fine for me. But, climate matters alot - we are very warm here in south texas.

Maybe pick a small sculpture piece to start out with. Sculpt it out of styrofoam. Cover it with whatever wire cloth or mesh you have available. I cut lath up into workable pieces and secure it to the styrofoam with floral pins...slightly overlapping the lath here and there. I also used multi-strand nylon twine to secure lath in place. My concrete mix is usually no thicker than 1 inch. The more mix - the heavier your piece will be!

I have talked to others who use fiberglass screen material in place of lath in their sculptures. I have even used fabric dipped in mix (cement mache) to cover a basket and its outside amazingly still in one piece! There are just so many ways to do what you are planning to do. Just jump in - its alot of fun!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2005 at 1:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fossilnut(Z3-4, NE WA)

Thanks for your help! Wish I could start playing right now but there's no way we'd want to lug concrete across country (we're moving from Florida to Washington state). So I'm pretending I'm content to make plans and gather info for all my projects, and make a shopping list of materials that I'll need. I can hardly wait!!

Latest plans include a fairly large "head" of an Indian looking out over the lake (as we've just found that our property is an Indian Archaeological site).

My Christmas present is a digital camera so I'll have to document everything once I get started. I've just about read every single posting here and your projects are inspiring. Really appreciate seeing pictures and I will reciprocate by posting my own.

One other question....does anyone know what material is used to coat those mailbox statues (here in Florida, the usual one is a large dolphin)? I understand they are made of foam and coated with something.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2005 at 4:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nmgirl(8 S.NM)

What's a "mailbox statue"? Is that anything like the little jockey dude holding up a large ring that you used to see everywhere? I always wondered how far a horse could and would drag one of those things........
Have any photos?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 6:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fossilnut(Z3-4, NE WA)

Haven't gotten to learning how to post pictures yet but here is link to what I'm talking about.

I've never gotten out and looked at them closeup but they seem to be coated with a cement like mixture. I've been told that they are made of styrofoam.

If you made something like that out of solid cement, I think it might be a "little" heavy!!! I'm trying to figure out how to make a statue that won't be too heavy. Also, I could take all the time I wanted sculpting the foam (before coating it with cement.

Our "new" cabin is pretty remote. Our town has a building supply place that is rumored to be going out of business. If that happens, we'll have to go @50 miles to get concrete, peat, etc. or closer to 100 miles if we want a Home Depot! So I've got to make a GOOD shopping list and not forget anything!!!


    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 8:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Now that is an interesting project. keep us posted especially with progress pics.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2005 at 2:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ltd123(6A southern Ind)

Check out the old threads about big spheres and mesh and Quickwall. You can sculpt whatever you want out of styrofoam then cut up pieces of EIFS mesh into rectangles or triangles about 5 by 6 inches or bigger and use them to overlap each other as they cover the styrofoam sculpture. As you cover, you use Quickwall like you would wall paper paste to make a paper mache covering over something. As you go, you can use roofing nails (they have large flat heads) to go thru the mesh into the styrofoam to help hold things down. After this coat dries, you whack in more roofing nails if places seem to want to pull away from the styrofoam. (this step isn't needed on the spheres but a shape with undercuts will probably need the nails) Next do a second coat of overlapping mesh and Quickwall. When this dries you will have an amazingly strong layer of concrete over your sculpture. Since each layer is 1/4 inch thick, you will just have a half inch of concrete to add weight to the styrofoam so your finished product is very light weight. Quickwall is waterproof so you have a surface that will hold up to the weather. Quickwall is made of portland cement so you also have a surface on which you can build up more layers of concrete texture or detail.
This is really not much different than all the covered spheres we have discussed. There is no reason concrete sticks to the plastic ball or balloon - in fact it creates a slick surface that the ball pulls away from easily when you deflate it. The concrete doesn't really have to stick to the styrofoam any longer than it takes to create the shape of your sculpture and have it dry; it is just easier to leave the styrofoam inside the finished product since it doesn't deflate.
Try a smallish piece now for practice - it will not be too heavy to take with you when you move.
Have fun!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2005 at 10:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fossilnut(Z3-4, NE WA)

Thanks for your help! Exactly the info I was looking for. Now I wish I hasn't given away half a bag of portland when we had a garage sale!!! Also miss some modeling clay that I gave to a kid that looked at it longingly.. (now I find myself "sculpting" in my morning cream of wheat!!!

Thanks again!


    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 5:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Nashonii(6 Ozarks)

I am in 2 groups that sculpt cement. If you go to and find Cement as a sculpture medium, you can see step by step how we made many outdoor sculptures. Now I have started my own Yahoo group called PlayingNmud. We are doing the same thing there. We would be glad to help you,or answer any questions.
We make an armature of anything from styrophome packing forms to bent coat-hangers, then use metal lath,(or diamond Lath) and cover it with cement.
Like Justin, in a previous forum, you can use perlite and peat moss with cement to make it lighter weight, but you still want to wait untill you move to make it. It won't be THAT light weight, LOL.
Your ideas sound wonderful for your garden! Good luck and keep us posted!

    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 5:51AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
faux rocks
how to make....
Kathy Meyer Smyth
Large and Thick Hypertufa
I have made a very large (for me) hypertufa trough....
leaf imprints
Gardenerboy, Leaf imprints are easy. I like plasticware...
Advice needed - trying for a smooth finish w/concrete (PIC)
I'm making a mini modern indoor/outdoor fireplace out...
My hypertufa elephant planters and other projects
I used to work with plaster before I discovered hypertufa...
Sponsored Products
Justice Design Group POR-8921 - Modular 1 Light Wall Sconce - Square Flared Shad
$196.20 | Hayneedle
Woven Forest Acrylic and Wool Throw Blanket
Modway Align Leather Loveseat
Lazzeri Runner 2'6" x 8' - CAMEL
$199.00 | Horchow
Hampton Bay Ceiling Fans Havenville 52 in. Brushed Nickel Ceiling Fan 14952
Home Depot
Bamboo Chop Block - Large
$79.99 | Dot & Bo
Black Clothing Shaver
$11.99 | zulily
Malibu Path & Landscape Lights Solar Kristi Collection Pathway Lights (4-Pack)
$79.97 | Home Depot
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™