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Below are a variety of concrete, cement paste & hypetufa mix formulas (or recipes, as they are often referred to), that are intended for use in arts & crafts.  If you have any notations, observations or comments you'd like to add to any of these,www.paneraiblog.com just Email them to Admin & we'll figure out a way to post them for the benefit of all our members.   Likewise, if you have your own special concoction, send that along too with your use & findings and we'll credit each contributor.  Like many areas here on TheGardenArtForum, the Mix Menu will likely remain "a work-in-progress" that members are encouraged to contribute to, as well as use, for a long time to come. 


NOTE: All of the concrete mixes below are based on the industry standard method for expressing these formulations.  See the note below as taken from the "Glossary of Terms for Cement, Concrete & Hypertufa" on this site.  And keep in mind that nearly all of the formulations shown here are based on different individuals experiences, experimentation and personal observations.  They are meant to serve only as a basis for creating arts & crafts projects and are NOT intended for construction use where standardized or mandated regulations are to be met.

"Concrete Mix Ratios  The numerical values of basic concrete mix components as expressed in relative parts.  These relative values should always be expressed or stated in the following order;  Cement first, then Sand, then Gravel (or Stone).  Example:  A "standard 1-2-3" mix consists of One part Cement + Two parts Sand + Three parts Gravel (or Stone).


Concrete Formulas:


Basic "1-2-3 Concrete Mix":

Dry:

1 Part Portland Cement

2 Parts Medium to Coarse Sand

3 Parts Gravel or Rock

Wet: 

Water.  The water content can vary greatly depending on the application.
NOTE:  Use only clean, potable water in any concrete, cement or mortar mix.  If it's not clean enough to drink, it's not clean enough use in your mix.

This combination yields a very strong & proven product as  long as the water content is kept within reason.   It is by far the most widely used formula for foundations, sidewalks, driveways and the like.    Limited use in casting due to the large aggregate.  Good for artwork or sculpture as a base material where extra strength is needed, but difficult to form or sculpt to any level of detail due to the presence of large aggregate.

 


1-0-3 to 1-0-6 No Fines Concrete: (often actually contains a very small amount of sand)

Dry:

1 Part Portland Cement

3-6 Parts Large Gravel or Rock

Wet:

Minimum Water - Just enough water to ensure that very little paste settles to the bottom during placing.

Used primarily as a filler or backfill on large projects and is intentionally porous to facillitate drainage.  Lacks the strength of conventional mixtures due to inherent voids and limited surface contact between the stones & cement.  Only useful where drainage is needed around larger works or sculptures.

 


Tango's 1-4-0 Base Sculpting Mix:

Dry:

1 Part Portland Cement or Rapid Set/High Early Strength Cement

4 Parts Torpedo Sand

Wet:

18% to max 24% Total Liquids - (comprised of water containing 10 to 25% combination latex bonding agent/admixture) Keep water as low as possible for a stronger mix.  Admix adds a little "stickieness" & aids in bonding layer to layer.

Other Admixes & Additives:

  • Short poly fibers, about a fistful for each 10 pounds of cement.
  • Superplasticizer (Amount depends on Mfgr's. specs)  To improve workability at low water content levels
  • Accelerator/Optional (Amt. varies by maker) - Used to achieve a quicker set in order minimize set time between layers.  Another option is to use the Rapid Set/High Early Strength Cement mentioned above in place of standard Portland
  • Retarder/Optional  (Amt. varies by maker) - Used to delay the initial set and allow extended workability.

This is definitely a "high fiber" recipe, but the extra fibers aid in bonding to the armature & other early layers and also help prevent early onset cracking.  Good for quickly building up base layers to create form, but that need little detail.

 

 


Tango's 1-4-0 Fly Ash Base Sculpting Mix:

 

 Dry:

1 Part Cementitous Mix* - (A combination of 65% Portland Cement or Rapid Set/High Early Strength Cement and 35% Fly Ash)

4 Parts Torpedo Sand

Wet:

18% to max 24% Total Liquids - (comprised of water containing 10 to 25% combination latex bonding agent/admixture) Keep water as low as possible for a stronger mix.  Admix adds a little "stickieness" & aids in bonding layer to layer.

Other Admixes & Additives:

  • Short poly fibers, about a fistful for each 10 pounds of cement.
  • Superplasticizer (Amount depends on Mfgr's. specs)  To improve workability at low water content levels
  • Accelerator/Optional (Amt. varies by maker) - Used to achieve a quicker set in order minimize set time between layers.  The other option is to use the Rapid Set/High Early Strength Cement mentioned above in place of standard Portland.
  • Retarder/Optional  (Amt. varies by maker) - Used to delay the initial set and allow extended workability.

This is also a "high fiber" recipe in which the extra fibers aid in bonding to the armature & other early layers and also help prevent early onset cracking.  Good for quickly building up base layers to create form, but that need little detail.

The inclusion of Fly Ash is dual purpose.  To densify & strengthen the finsished product, and to achieve a more workable & sculptable consistency.

*IMPORTANT NOTE:  Any time that Fly Ash or any other reactive pozzolanic ingredients are are combined with cement in a mix, you must remember to use the total of the two as the "cementitous" figure in your mix ratio for all your calculations.  Don't think in terms of simply "adding" Fly Ash or pozzolans.  Think in terms of "replacing" an equal volume of cement.  Together they represent the total "cementitous" portion of the mix.  This is very important to remember because any other ingredients that are  portioned relative to the amount of "cement" in the mix (water, colorants, admixes, etc.) must in reality be measured against the total of all the "cementitous" materials...and not just the "cement".  This is a very common mistake made even by professionals and can wreck an otherwise sound formulation.

 


Tango's 1-2-0 Mixed Sand Sculpting Mix:

Dry:

1 Part Portland Cement

2 Parts Mixed Sand (half medium sand/half very fine sand or marble dust)

Wet:

15% to max 20% Total Liquids - (comprised of water containing 10 to 25% combination latex bonding agent/admixture) Keep water as low as possible for a stronger mix.  Admix adds a little "stickieness" & aids in bonding layer to layer.

Other Admixes & Additives:

  • Superplasticizer (Amt. varies by makerTo improve workability at low water content levels
  • Retarder (Amt. varies by maker) To extend the working time before setting hard

This mix is good for refining forms and capable of holding moderate detail.  I often use this as my final build up before applying the finish coat.  The two different sizes of sand make for a significantly stronger and more durable mix than will a single sand size.

 


Tango's 1-2-0 Fine Sand Finishing Mix:

Dry:

1 Part Portland Cement (Gray or White depending on coloring considerations)

2 Parts Very fine Sand, Marble Dust or Very Fine Blasting Silica

Wet:

15% to max 20% Total Liquids - (comprised of water containing 10 to 25% combination latex bonding agent/admixture) Keep water as low as possible for a stronger mix.  Admix adds a little "stickieness" & aids in bonding layer to layer.
NOTE: Higher concentrations of latex admix will inhibit and can even prevent acid etch color from penetrating or reacting with the cement.  For any "Finish" coat, be sure to use a Latex ratio that is compatible with whatever coloring techniques will follow.

Other Admixes & Additives:

  • Superplasticizer (Amt. varies by maker)  To improve workability at low water content levels
  • Retarder (Amt. varies by maker) To extend the working time before setting hard

This is the most basic "sanded"  finishing mix.  The level of detail possible is limited only by the fineness of the sand.  It is also very close to the mixtures employed on most historical or antique sculpture & Faux Bois.  The combination of high cement & very low water produce a creamier mixture that is relatively easy to sculpt & detail.

NOTE:  The majority of the antique work finished in similar mortar formulations often contained Hydrated Lime.  It yields a creamier, stickier mix but is NOT recommended for use by amateurs due to it's highly caustic and dangerous nature.  The use of a superplasticizer and small amounts of Latex admix will produce similar workability without the risk of severe burns or blindness.

 


Tango's 1-2-0 Fly Ash & Fine Sand Finishing Mix:

Dry:

1 Part Cementitous Mix*  (Combination of 65% Gray or White Portland Cement & 35% Fly Ash)

2 Parts Very fine Sand, Marble Dust or Very Fine Blasting Silica

Wet:

15% to max 20% Total Liquids - (comprised of water containing 10 to 25% combination latex bonding agent/admixture) Keep water as low as possible for a stronger mix.  Admix adds a little "stickieness" & aids in bonding layer to layer.

Other Admixes & Additives:

  • Superplasticizer (Amt. varies by maker)  To improve workability at low water content levels
  • Retarder (Amt. varies by maker) To extend the working time before setting hard

This is a modified sanded finish mixture that yields a much more "clay-like" formulation.  When the water content is kept to an absolute minimum it can be formed into a ball that will exhibit virtually no "slump" and adheres well to even the undersides of projects.  The sand content still limits the level of detail, but it's consistency allows for the production & retention of a higher level than the mix without Fly Ash.  The finished product is also much denser & stronger than conventional concrete or mortar.

* See the note above (Tango's 1-4 Fly Ash Base Sculpting Mix) regarding Fly Ash & total cementitous content

 


Tango's 1-0-0 Modified Neat Paste Finishing Mix:

Dry:

1 Part Cementitous Mix*  (Combination of 50 to 65% Gray or White Portland Cement & 50to 35% Fly Ash)

Wet:

13% to max 20% Total Liquids - (comprised of water containing 0 to 25% combination latex bonding agent/admixture.  Latex admix must be minimal or eliminated if acid etch coloration is to be employed as this mix is extremely dense to begin with) 
NOTE:  The cement/water ratio for this paste is extremely low and difficult to properly mix.  Mechanical mixing is recommended and the dry mixing time extended to at least 15 minutes.  The resulting paste should be semi-dry, have little or no slump and be almost the consistency of sculpting clay.

Other Admixes & Additives:

  • Superplasticizer (Amt. varies by maker but use the maximum ratio for this formulation)  To improve workability at low water content levels
  • Retarder (Amt. varies by maker) To extend the working time before setting hard

NOTE:  This formulation requires practice both to make properly & to work, but can record extreme detail and very fine textures.  It is also by far the most difficult to cure successfully.  All neat pastes exhibit some tendency towards very fine microfractures on the surface during the cure.  Unless properly managed, this can become extreme resulting in very large overall fissures that render the product useless.  Hydration must be continuously maintained from the time of the initial set through full hard set (typically a week or more depending on retarder use & environmental conditions).  Air movement over the surface must also be minimized or totally eliminated, even while applying & working.  Even minimal air movement robs moisture from 3-dimensional work at an extreme rate and is probably the leading cause of failure when working with neat pastes.  The "rich" nature (high cement content) of this mixture also produces higher than normal heat buildup which contributes to rapid moisture loss and must be compensated for.  For best results, this work should be sealed in an air-tight containment that prevents air movement over the surface and retains adequate moisture to complete the entire cure.  Large plastic bags or heavy weight plastic sheeting that has all the seams taped securely to form a full enclosure will eliminate the need to be constantly misting the work 24 hours a day.  Additionally, if the work can be enclosed in Black plastic and left to cure in strong direct sunlight, the heat absorbed by the plastic will produce an excellent, high moisture curing environment within the enclosure and recycle nearly 100% of the moisture given up by the curing cement.  I call it "A Poor Man's Steam Cure".  Steam curing being a high-tech industrial technique for achieving a near perfect curing environment.  See "Tricks of the (Cement) Trade for more info on curing processes.

 

Here is a pic of what the consistency of this particular formulation looks like...

225565511_02e9d50d20_o_400

 

 

Hypertufa Formulas:

Because there are so many different materials used to make Hypertufa, no standardized method exists for expressing the mix ratio.  So, for our purposes here, we will simply define Hypertufa as any mix combination that includes both cement and peat...and call out only the ratio of cement to all other ingredients in relative "Parts".  That will at least provide an indication of the formulations overall cement content & strength.

Below are several of the more common mixtures in use, but please, share your own recipes, discoveries & observations here.  You can either E-mail them to Admin or simply indicate in any Forum post that includes a recipe a note that we may incorporate it.  Remember, we will never presume upon anyone who posts here or lay claim to any of your text or images.  Yes...we want to build a large & continuously growing knowledge base, but only from freely contributed & properly credited material.

NOTE:  As with concrete & mortar, the strength of any Hypertufa formulation will be determined primarily by its' cement/water ratio.  The addition of alkali resistant fibers and Latex admixtures will also improve the strength & durability of any of these formulations.

Basic Hypertufa:  1-3
1 Part Portland Cement
1 Part Sand
2 Parts Screened Peat


Hypertufa With Perlite:  1-3
1 Part Portland Cement
1 Part Sand
1 Part Screened Peat
1 Part Perlite

Hypertufa With Vermiculite:  1-3
1 Part Portland Cement
1 Part Sand
1 Part Screened Peat
1 Part Vermiculite


Hypertufa, Sand-Free:  2-3
2 Parts Portland Cement
1 1/2 Parts Peat
1 1/2 Parts Perlite

NOTE:  Here is a link to some very good basic Hypertufa mixing & trough forming info presented by the Chicago Botanic Garden.  It's in a handy & printable PDF format. Copy & paste the link below...

https://www.chicagobotanic.org/downloads/trough/cbg_trough.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

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