Going from Cement Mixers to Cement Trucks

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A day came when I had to turn a crap load of concrete into “rocks”. Something I had never done before. I needed to trowel, shape. compose, and texture thousands of pounds of concrete before it got too hard to modify. Which on a hot summer day could be in a matter of minutes. But once I got over that first day, I was able to create monstrous faux rock water features for years to come… And command much larger budgets…

THE BEGINNING: I started making fake rocks with buckets and then cement mixers and wheelbarrows. Add water, the concrete and mix. Then go make your rock…one bucket or wheelbarrow at a time.

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It’s a good system. You can take your time to shape your rocks, boulders and waterfall. This is important because it gives you the time to learn your trade and master your skills and abilities. To learn how to create a natural and authentic looking project. But then a job comes along that’s too big to make with a cement mixer and a wheelbarrow. THIS is the next level.

So what can you do to prepare for that day?

Practice….with sand.

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Fortunately for me I spent years making professional sand sculptures often carving boulders or rocks in the process. By the time I began making faux rock I’d had lots of practice making “rocks”. Thus since a pile of sand and a pile of concrete are very similar take a trip to the beach.

Find some moist sand and get on your knees. Begin to pile and pack the sand into “rocks”. Big ones, small ones and shape them with your regular cement trowels. Then look at em. Do they look real? Are the shapes authentic? This is when you can take note of how well you can mimic the real deal. Take photos and LOOK at the how God made rocks. Or waterfalls. Study what you see. Take time to do this. This is time VERY WELL spent. If you can master carving a “rock" in sand you will be able to do it with concrete. And this will then separate you from the competition.

Knowing how to carve takes time and practice. And is just part of the process. Learning how the materials behave and what produces the best textures, colors and durability are added to your carving ability. Lots of contractors know how to use the materials. Not to many know how to manipulate concrete to match what we see in nature. Fake rocks then end up looking fake. And that sucks!

So take the time to study. Practice in sand. Buy my ebook “Makin’ Rocks”.

Then when your day comes you’ll be ready to go from a cement mixer to… a cement truck…

- Dave

Dave HendersonComment