Recently, I've been interested in Ferrocement, the versatile combination of steel and cement used for construction. I decided to try it out, and so here's what I did.
The site I primarily used to learn about Ferrocement is the Ferrocement Educational Network which has a lot of good links and material. I looked around a lot to see if I could find a real easy step by step guide to Ferrocement, but they all went into too much detail, so I set off to see what I could do. I think I learned more by trying it than all the reading I did beforehand.
If you're interested, try it out for yourself!
I have a small model (not shown) which I based this rebar framework on. I used a pipe bender to shape the rebar, but shaped some of it just by stepping on it and bending it with my hands. The welding was done with a little Hobart MIG welder.
Here I have added the small petals on the side. You can see the framework a little better in these pictures.
Here I have added a double layer (one inside, one outside) of plain old galvanized 1" opening chicken wire (I bought it at Home Depot). The pieces were laid out approximately the right size, cut from the roll, and then formed over the rebar and cut with about a 2" overlap. I bent the wire ends around the rebar and the chicken wire to secure it well. Some pieces of wire were also used to hold all of the layers close together.
The first layer of concrete is on! I used moarter mix from Home Depot, and in retrospect it would have been nice to have a non "fast setting" type. The moarter set almost too quickly to work well, and it was difficult to blend with the previous courses. Dad helped me by mixing the moarter while I applied it to the framework using my hands. We were both wearing rubber gloves to keep our hands protected, but the sharp ends of the chicken wire kept tearing my gloves. I'm not sure how I can protect from that...
You can see in the pictures that there are several flaws that I didn't catch the first time around. I'm planning on fixing them in the second coat...
Well, there it is. One way or another it's done for now. I actually had my little sister and my two cousins who were over for vacation help me out. There are still a few flaws, but I think it's good enough for now. Mom may eventually coat the whole thing in mosaic, but I'm done with the project for the time being. I hope it turns out to be useful as a flower pot or fountain or something, and I'm glad I took the time to finish it.
Epilogue: This thing is still around. After a short stint as a fountain I drilled a hole in the bottom to make it into a planter. It currently houses a thriving rosemary bush. My parents have talked about getting rid of it, but it won't fit in the trashcan and no one wants to spend an afternoon pummeling it with a sledge hammer. Success!
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