chal-lenge: noun a calling to account or into question

Follow along as I challenge the tricks, tips, clever craft and decorating ideas and "simple" recipes that we clip, bookmark, and "pin" for trial at a later date.

Are they really worth the effort? Time (and I) will tell!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hypertufa: Lightweight Artificial Stone Pots

Okay Martha Stewart let’s try it again. While looking through Martha’s Living Magazine, I came across directions to make these beautiful stone planters. The suggested materials and technique were meant to create a planter that looks like stone without the weight of stone. The molds pictured in the article appeared to create interesting and unique planters. My mother read the same article and wanted to give it a try.

Between the two of us, we gathered the materials: a variety of molds, cooking spray, cement, peat moss, perlite, rubber gloves and a mixing container. Common enough materials but it did involve a trip to Lowe’s and a very heavy, dirty bag of cement. Materials gathered, we read and reread the directions. Should the mix be the consistency of cottage cheese or cake batter? Martha said cottage cheese so that’s what we did. Filling the molds didn’t take much time. It was actually pretty anti-climatic, especially considering the time it took to gather all the materials. We packed the mixture into our molds with a minimal of fuss. Once filled, the pots were covered with a tarp to cure for 24 hours.

We waited the required 24 hours and then began to unmold our creations. The cooking spray had done its job and the molds released without a problem. In the interest of creativity, one of us (not me!) had filled the mold very loosely and these pots did not have enough strength to hold themselves together. We did hold out some hope that once the cement had fully cured, the stability factor would increase although it didn’t seem likely. The pots still had a few weeks to fully cure before we could really put them to the test and make our final judgment.

About two weeks passed before we checked our pots again. Now we could pick them up without any crumbling but they still didn’t seem very stable. Next it was on to the water test. After all, if the pots were to be useful they would need to hold plants, soil and water. I poured the water into the first pot and it drained right through the bottom without hesitation. As I picked up the pot it totally collapsed, creating a pile of soft, crumbled cement. None of the pots were successful, even as nonfunctioning pieces of art. I dragged them all up to the stone wall, dropped them and watched our creations disintegrate before my eyes.

I suppose we could use what we learned during this process and start over with new pots. But then again, I see Big Lots is having a sale.