Monthly Archives: August 2010

Faux Bois Step Two

I started the second coat of concrete on top. I had to make it level, first of all, then begin forming the bark around the edges. I had several pieces of oak firewood for reference. There is a sharp contrast between the dark bark and the heart of the tree.

I then began going down the sides. I brushed the acrylic latex compound onto the scored cement first, then began laying on the second coat. I had to use a trowel and press it on; otherwise, it would just fall of the side onto the table. I used clay-sculpting tools to make the furrows, followed by a wet brush.

You can see the first layer of scored concrete on the right, with the furrowed bark on the left. When I had done this much of it, I wrapped the stump with plastic until I come back to layer the rest of the bark. Real bark would be rougher than this. I have brushed the concrete smoother, since bark would compress or crumble, if rubbed, but rough cement would just feel prickly. It seems to me that a rough concrete piece would be undesirable. It may also be difficult to stain.
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Faux Bois Stump

Faux Bois is a French word for “artificial wood.” It refers to the art of creating structures like furniture, bridges, and gazebos that look like wood, but are really sculpted and stained concrete.
I am making a Faux Bois Bench for my husband’s gravesite. It will be in a forest clearing at the juncture of three logging roads. I want it to be natural-looking, durable and beautiful.
In order to do a practice piece, get the feel of sculpting in concrete and learn how to stain the created bark without overdoing it, I wanted to make a practice piece: a stump that will function as a stool.
First I cut out styrofoam disks with a jig saw, stacked them to a desirable height and thrust two rebar stakes through them to hold them together.

The next step was to layer the styrofoam with diamond lathe, a rigid metal netting that can be hammered to bulge where you want a tree burl or a root. The lathe was wired together in pieces.

Diamond lathe.

When that was finished, I was ready to layer the armature with the first coat of concrete. I used a very plastic mix (at the suggestion of my concrete expert friend, Andy), one part concrete, three parts silica sand, and sufficient amount of acrylic latex mixed with water to make the concrete easy to thrust through the wires. When the negative spaces were filled in, it looked like this (see also above). I scored the surface everwhere to make the second coat of concrete adhere well.
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