We use a wide variety of materials on our projects. Welded steel, sculpted concrete, epoxy sculpting medium, wood, various paints and a whole lot more. Each piece is made from the best choice, determined by many factors, including ease of working, size, strength, durability, cost effectiveness, and other factors. The challenge is to get the various materials to mimic the type of surface we want to portray. An old weathered branch in our project is most likely made from fiberglass reinforced concrete, sculpting epoxy or high density urethane. Most likely it has a welded steel, structural frame inside as well. The challenge we face is to make the material we use look like the real thing, and match some other material that is most likely adjacent to it playing the same role.
We get lots of visitors to our projects. Many say nice things which is always encouraging. Today a stucco contractor was working outside on the building. We were inside. As we worked he came inside to see what we were up to. He was a skilled man and had done a LOT of plasterwork through the years I'm sure. He watched intently as I troweled on the concrete - anything but flat for I was working on the twisted branch for the entrance welcome station. He asked me lots of questions - about the mix we use, how we carved it, the type of paint we finished things with and much more. I answered his questions. Eventually he wandered off to see all the other details we had worked on.
He stopped at the fireplace for a long while with his nose pressed right up against the piece. He was fascinated by the details we had carved in. Then he asked a question that was a huge compliment - without his knowing it. He asked just how we had managed to hand carve the lettering on the mantle so perfectly. It had been done with the help of our computerized router of course.
My concern when I was designing and building the mantle was how effectively I would be able to blend the machine produced parts made from High Density Urethane into the pieces we were hand carving from concrete. My goal was to have everything fit together perfectly in order for it to look like everything was created from the same material.
We had obviously succeeded in blending the styles of the various materials well - even though the features are only in base colors as of yet. By the time we finish all the blending, glazing and aging there will be no telling of what each part is made from - no matter who looks.. And to have the comment come from someone who knows concrete inside out put my fears to rest.