Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Making Mudpies

When I was a kid, I had the good fortune of growing up on a farm. I did like playing with dolls sometimes, but when you live on 4 acres with a creek, a forest, a pasture, and a barn, there's just too much fun waiting for you outside. Besides climbing and swinging from trees, I really enjoyed playing in the dirt, and making/baking mud pies. I took great care in mixing different soil ingredients to make the perfect pie, and letting it bake in the sun. So it should come as no surprise that I still enjoy playing with dirt and rocks. 

I discovered Hypertufa several years ago, and I immediately fell in love with the process and aesthetics. I've always been drawn to old stone, whether it forms a wall, fence, or vessel, but stone is quite heavy, not to mention expensive. Enter Hypertufa. It gives the look of weathered stone that Mother Nature created, rather than man-made, weighs much less than stone, and much much cheaper.

There is a lot of freedom in creating Hypertufa, from the shapes to the ingredients. The basic mixture includes cement, peatmoss, and sand, but you can add other materials to give it whatever look you desire.Adding more peatmoss makes it more brown, adding perlite gives it more of a granite look, or you could add cement dye to give it a lava look. But that's only half the fun. The other half is what shape you want to create. 

Since I'm not much for convention, I like my planters to be uncommon shapes, rather than the usual terracotta pot, and they must look antique, rustic, or weathered. Once you decide you're going to create a hypertufa vessel, you look at everything as a potential mold. You find a shape and size you like, line it with a garbage bag, and now it's a mold. A milk carton, a plastic floral liner, a bowl, etc.

My favorite vessel is my half sphere. I wanted a perfect, deep round bowl shape, without a flat bottom, and finally found the old aluminum colander. I lined it with a plastic bag, and it was ready to go. If you wrinkle and squish the bag, it will give you even more texture once the hypertufa sets.

I made these planters a couple of years ago, specifically for planting succulents into, and the weather has done a fabulous job of aging them. Notice the beautiful crumbly texture like old architectural ruins. See how well they blend with the lava rocks?

There are limitless possibilities of what you can create with hypertufa. You could even design some cool holders for tea lights. With plenty of Hypertufa recipes and tutorials on the web, you won't have any problem jumping in and creating your own vessels. 

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Vintage Verde

Favorite things of mine that are even better together - gardening and antiques. I especially love container-gardening, so whenever I find a great antique vessel, it's always considered a potential planter. 

I have a soft spot for succulents, whether it's a Sedum, Sempervivum, or the plethora of other choices out there. 

They are totally low-maintenance, with an undemanding root system, so will grow almost anywhere, in the poorest, sandiest, or shallowest of soils.

So gather up your favorite vintage vessels, add some pebbles or moss, and create a stylish tableau for your summer soiree.

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