On Friday, I showed you my hypertufa containers and I promised that I’d show you how I made them. And since I am a woman of her word (most of the time), here it goes.
Sphagnum Peat Moss
Cooking Spray (Pam works for me, since it has my name in its name)
Large bucket or something to mix your ingredients in
Various plastic or cardboard containers to use as molds
I purchased my bags of perlite and sphagnum peat moss from the gardening section of Walmart (they were approximately $5 a piece). The bag of Portland cement was purchased from the construction area of Home Depot (this small bag was approximately $5 also).
You do need Portland cement and not the quick drying cement for this recipe. Don’t let the Quikrete name confuse you though. Quikrete happens to make this Portland cement, although they do make the quick setting version of cement also. Just look for the Portland title (which has nothing to do with Portland, Oregon, BTW).
Gather some containers that you want to put the hypertufa into. You’ll need an outer container and an inner container. The mixture will go between the two containers. Some ideas for molds are two bowls of different sizes,
milk cartons, juice containers and cups. I love my Timmy’s.
Even two boxes of different sizes can be used. They make nice trough type planters.
Spray the sides of the containers with cooking spray, so that the molds will slide out easily later. If you are going to use the cardboard boxes, use garbage bags to line them, so the moisture doesn’t make the cardboard all mushy.
Get your containers ready and set to go before you start mixing the hypertufa. The containers must nest in each other, leaving at least 1/2 inch between the sides.
Don your particle mask, gloves and safety glasses and mix equal parts of perlite, peat moss and Portland cement in a container that you never ever want to use again. This is a messy project. I used a plastic cup I had on hand to scoop out about 8 cups of each into my large bucket for mixing. I then added enough water to make a cottage cheese like consistency.
And please don’t forget to wear a mask and gloves! You don’t want to inhale cement unless you want rock hard lungs. And cement can be very caustic to your skin. I forgot my safety glasses, so I just shut my eyes while scooping out the dry cement, but I’m pretty sure that’s about the same as closing your eyes while you’re welding on the sun.
Now, I had planned on showing a ton of photos doing all these steps, but my gloved hands were wet with cement and I didn’t want to get my camera all gritty.
When it’s all nice and mixed together, press the mixture into the bottom of the outer container to a depth of about 1″ (this will make the bottom), put the inner container on top of that and press more mixture into the sides.
Wrap your items in a large plastic garbage bag and learn how to be patient.
Concrete needs to dry slowly, so keep it in the bag for roughly 24 hours. After 24 hours you can check and see if it’s setting up. If so, you can remove the molds and let the piece air dry for a few more days (don’t forget to wear your gloves for this step). I found it took mine at least 4 days to completely and thoroughly dry.
Mine came out a little bumpier on the top than I was imagining, but I sort of like the rusticness of them that way.
I also made a sphere.
I used a child’s play ball and put it in a container filled with sand, so it would hold its shape and not have a huge flat spot on the bottom. Then I cut a small hole in the top of the ball and filled it up with the hypertufa mix.
More detailed instructions can be found on this post by Fairegarden. She does an excellent job of showing you how to make them.
I also tried to do a hand with the stuff, using a rubber glove as a form.
I lost a few fingers though. They popped off when I was cutting the glove off.
The great thing about these planters is that the hypertufa is so much lighter than you would think by just glancing at them. So you get the look of stone without the weight of stone.
UPDATE: Since this post first appeared, I have successfully created a hand! OK, that vaguely sounds like something Dr. Frankenstein would say, but you can see it on this post – HERE.