When we sculpt new pieces things need to be done in a certain order. First we need to make sure we have enough sand and cement powder at hand and in the shop. The expanded lath needs to be carefully checked to make sure it is all tight. Trowels and carving tools need to be handy as do rubber gloves, brushes, brooms, shovels, step stools, buckets and ladders. Then the mixing starts. The fiberglass reinforced concrete needs to be applied as fast as possible, starting with upside down areas which will have to be done in two thin coats. Then the rest of the feature is mudded, starting at the top and working towards the bottom. All of the concrete needs to be in place by noon or we'll be working overtime. Then we wait, doing other tasks while the concrete sets up. From time to time we test an area. Too wet and the carving detail doesn't hold - too hard and it becomes a race to finish before it gets rock hard. We are looking for the sweet spot, where its easy to sculpt and the detail holds well. Then the trick is to carve the concrete at the same rate as we applied it previously. There's no going home until we are done and the cleanup is finished.
Today we sculpted the rockwork on the small trestle and the water tank that will sit high above. Things went well with Jenessa setting the pace as she was lead concrete person. Brando was the mixer man. Kendra was also applying the concrete. We got a little bit of a late start because the whole crew brought in two yards of sand I had just picked up from town. (That works out to be twenty-five incredibly heavy tubs) Then we had to run to the local lumber yard for the cement powder.
Today, the wet concrete wasn't ready to carve until after two o'clock and then the race was on. At first Janessa and I did the sculpting and as it became harder everyone stopped the other tasks they were doing and pitched in to do the job. It turns out Jenessa was a teeny bit greedy for a half hour of overtime was necessary by a couple of the crew to polish things off. But it was no problem and the result was well worth the effort.
The water tank is now sculpted as is the trestle rock work. Two more beautiful pieces are ready for paint!