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Mud pies with a side of succulent

So, I capitulated to the really nice ladies at the church I attend to do some volunteer work… namely to teach the kiddos at summer camp how to make hypertufa pots.  This seemed fairly straightforward at first – and I had such high hopes of explaining to the older ones how concrete worked and why it was important to society as we know it (including how the molecules reacted to water and how adding inert dessicants helped to keep it lightweight)…. buuuuut remarkably, they lost interest in all of that!  Can you believe it?!  Here’s some of the cute little pots they did however manage to make, despite my lack of imparting any real scientific info on the inner workings of the remarkable concrete molecules. 

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Show Schedule for Spring

We’re so excited because we’ve been re-accepted into the White Rock Local Market (alternatively known as the Green Spot Market because of the gas station on that corner). 

Date is Saturday, March 10 from 8:00 am till 1:00 (might be till 2:00 if it’s a beautiful day) with a whole heaping helping of NEW hypertufa, wood, glass, jewelry and just cool things for you to use to beautiful your home and office, or to give as gifts to those deserving folks in your life.  (like teachers!)  I have a bunch of sweet little vase-lets with live plants for less than $15 that I hope you’ll squee over.  Also some larger-format table pieces that utilize driftwood from White Rock Lake.  I think that might be about as local as it gets. 

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Later in the Spring, going into summer I daresay, we’ll proudly be representing our neighborhood at the East Dallas Art and Garden Tour on Sunday, May 20!

http://www.facebook.com/lottie.minick#!/pages/White-Rock-East-Garden-Tour-Artisans/168226656563549

This annual event is not to be missed, whether you’re into gardening, art, architecture, snooping into the lives of others… ha ha, just kidding there… but truly this is one of the more interesting and edifying of the many home tours that are offered in Dallas every year.  There are nine gardens on offer, three from each of three East Dallas neighborhoods – Forest Hills, Little Forest Hills, and Casa Linda.  Since there is such a concentration of artsy/craftsy/outdoorsy folks living in those areas, the results of the tour are often very pleasantly surprising.

We’ll update the blog to let you know exactly which house you will be able to find us, with our concrete/hypertufa pots and wood sculptures.

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More pictures of pots from 2010-2011

These were made in my backyard, sitting at the awesome concrete faux-bois tables and benches that some long-ago denizen left behind.  Considering our house was built in the 30’s, these might be very old indeed.  They serve a perfect purpose as the support system for yet more concrete adoration. 

 

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How to work with Hypertuffa, Part 1

Have you, like me, admired the naturalistic look of mosses and succulents growing out of rocks in an alpine garden?  There’s something magical about the way the plants find their roots in the cool, chalky spaces inside the rocks.  The plants themselves look so appealing in their architectural growth patterns. 

So I decided to learn how to craft these rocky dwellings in my backyard, using items from the dollar store and even plastic trash that gets thrown away (or at our house, recycled).   Hopefully you’ll find this activity fun and relaxing – and immediately rewarding.

First you will need to gather these items:

Portland Cement – this comes in a large bag, and it’s very heavy.  You might want to enlist the help of a nice weightlifter to get this baby home.  Note:  Do Not buy anything that says it’s premixed concrete.  You want pure cement.

Perlite – those little white pellets made of styrofoam that are used to aerate the soil.

Buckets – I use two; one for mixing and one for holding a ready supply of dry cement since the bag resists moving.

Pitcher – old ratty pitcher for keeping water handy

Scooper – anything can be used for this, from a garden trowel to an old cup from the kitchen

Forms – this is where you will go to the dollar store and start scoping out the various bowls and storage containers.  Try out one form inside the other.  TIP:  Always allow more than a half inch for the walls of your vessel.  IOW, if your outside bowl is 10″, your inside bowl will need to be at least 9″ or less.  If you try to make them look like they are nesting, the walls will end up too thin and will crack, if you manage to get the vessal loose from the forms at all.

Now, think about all the neat forms that veggies and fruits arrive at the grocery store packed in.  There are small square boxes for strawberries, blueberries, and tiny tomatose.  These can even be very decorative.  I love using the fluted round box that my grape tomatoes arrive in.  So cool!  

For the interior, think about water bottles,  small juice bottles or boxes, and the like.  The easiest to work with are really the cardboard packages, and plastics should be straight sided (Imagine trying to remove an interior with groves… it can be done but can be difficult and even dangerous.  Cutting your fingers on rough plastic is super gnarly!).  Don’t even try to use glass on ANY of these – not as interior nor exterior.  Trust me, it just doesn’t work.

Now we’ve got our stuff and a few forms with an idea of how we’re going to set them up.  All we need are some plugs to create the hole in the base of our hypertuffa pot, if it’s going to do duty as a planter.  These can be cut from plastic or rubber tubing.  You can buy this by the foot at any hardware store and then snip it into .75″ pieces that will be placed vertically at the bottom of the outside form.  You will see what I mean when you make the first one.

Next I’ll discuss mixing the tuffa and pouring the mixture.  Following that, we’ll remove the interior form and eventually the exterior form, do a lot of cleaning up and routing out the bottom hole.  Then we’ll plant our new creation after it fully hardens (about two weeks).  Voila!