I’m having way too much fun with cement-soaked towels to work on anything else at the moment. I’ve made draped vases, miniature fairy houses, funky steampunk looking flowers, and have a few more ideas I want to try before I work this obsession out of my system. So, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned while experimenting.
There are many tutorials and blogs on the Internet, especially Facebook crafting pages, that explain how to make the cement-soaked vases with various cloths so I won’t go into much detail about the process. Here are a few tips I’ve learned from my experiments:
- The amount of water added to the Portland cement will depend on the thickness and thirstiness of the cloth used. I start out with a 2:1 ratio of water to cement for the dipping slurry, and add more water before soaking the thicker towels because they will immediately suck the water right out of the mix.
- Kneading the fabric in the slurry helps to distribute the cement to all the fibers. If you don’t feel enough cement was absorbed into the cloth, additional coats of slurry can be applied after the drape has dried.
- Cutting a small hole for drainage before soaking the cloth is easier than drilling through the hardened cement later, and helps to quickly find the center of the cloth while positioning across the drying support.
- A moist drying environment will help strengthen the cement in the draped cloth. It may take a day longer for the cement to set up, but it’s worth the effort. This can be accomplished by placing a bowl or bucket (depending on the size of your drape) over the project as it dries. If the drape is very large, use a plastic garbage bag under your drying support that is big enough to pull up over your work without touching it on the sides. Wire fencing or concrete remesh can be used to create a tent to support the plastic over the project.
- I would not recommend setting the wet project out in the sun to dry as stated by so many of the quickie instructions I’ve seen. Yes, it will dry faster, but may yield a brittle and easily broken project.
- Once dried, and inverted into the position to be used, the drapes may be top-heavy or the bottom may not be flat enough to keep the project from tipping. You can add more cement, papercrete, or hypertufa to the inside and/or outside of the base to correct the balance issues.
- The dried project can be painted or stained with great results. A clear sealer can also be used to help protect the finish and extend the life of the cement drape.
Here are a few projects using the cement soaked cloth method, ranging from miniatures to larger projects.
The Copper Flower Fountain is a work in progress.
My most recent draped vase collection: 30″ diameter x 30″ tall. The group includes 5 cement-soaked terrycloth vases that sit in the saucer, plus a base under the saucer made from a shortened tire rim (for better drainage).
I hope this blog post was helpful, demonstrated that any size project can be created, and the versatility of using cement soaked cloth. Be sure to check out “The Mother Tree: Papercrete & Cement-Soaked Cloth”, post, too! Y’all have fun! I am!
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