Spiral herb garden progress

Well I’m finally back to ferrocement, in Gisborne now based at Dreamspace gallery and workshops, 61 Carnarvon St. Main focus in the ferro: ‘dreamhavens – cabins you only dreamed of’… see www.dreamhaven.nz  . (formerly hobbithaven – this was lost in cyberspace when my old email peter at eutopia disappeared with eutopia.co.nz – sigh!)

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The Tairawhiti Environment Centre here asked me to make a herb spiral for them, and a garden path edging. Here are some photos. The spiral was a challenge as it is a complex shape to bend steel to – a spiral of steel rebar becomes a giant spring which needs strong framework to hold it. I put it over a ‘christmas tree’ frame specially made for forming circles and sprirals. But next time I will try welded joins – tied ones slip and the spiral twists… So, welding learning curve next… Also note the colour – hybrid of some ‘marigold’ oxide in the final coat and a wash of iron sulphate (used in lawn care for moss control) within a day of last coat and carving of it. Also note the black non-woven weedmatting for protection while the plaster cures – we got a 4 metre-wide roll of the thick felty stuff from Permathene which works well as it is wettable, doesn’t flap about, and won’t tear or fray like woven does. Raewyn will help fill the spiral and plant it. We are donating it to the cause – good advert I hope!

The garden edging took a lot of bending over and joining up 6 metre lengths, but it is very strong. They plan to fill it with smooth pebbles.

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Hobbits happy

And so will I be! I’m embarking on a new venture, which has its own blog/website: https://hobbithaven.wordpress.com/ – a new enterprise all about making a new line of hobbitholes, cabins, tiny homes, etc., all in the Tolkien spirit and incorporating Elven and other influences as well but focusing on (licensed) hobbit structures (human sized of course). Click the link and follow the journey!  I will still post here the more technical stuff as before..

The cabin in the woods the making of which inspired me to go hobbit building:

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The answer is spinning in the wind

Mobile ferrocement sculptures? Combined with follies for the recluse or the children? Look no further; here;s the concept model in plaster of Paris anyway. It happened to be blowing hard yesterday when I made it and I found it spun quite nicely considering it hasn’t got any proper bearings or aerodynamic design…

I’ve been told do the hobbit cabins first – more practical… But I’ll put the model out there and if you know someone who wants this, contact me forthwith! Id love to make one. It would be about 4-5 metres high, giving a lifesized ‘vitruvian couple’…

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Dove project at the Herstory Ark, Kaiwaka

Nearly done! I posted more pictures at http://wizardofeutopia.com/2014/11/09/the-dove-sleeps-in-the-sand/ The oval ferrocement sign was easy – rotproof and strong, I think I’d do all my signs in ferro… even a street sandwich board sign – heavy enough not to blow over in the wind too…

Even though the fence ferro along the straight part of the wall wasn’t ideal, being baggy etc, it has firmed up well already with the plaster on, all but the second inside coat. I think it will flex but not crack under load eg from strong winds; but we’ll see… I think I’d definitely go for 665 square mesh as the armature next time. I’ll try it out for the raised beds I plan around the boat prow.

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The abstract ideals of Eutopia and the Shire meet concretely

My latest vision is to start a romantic Tolkienesque village based on the ideals of Love Beauty Truth and Freedom. The structures of low-maintenance ferrocement (with some wooden trim etc). This is a model of the cabin-cottages I have in mind. About 5 meters by 3.5. The central farmhouse would be much bigger and house all the cooking and washing and dining areas, like an Inn. The cabins are for resting reading sleeping etc.

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ferrocement birdbath fountain, carved

I did this (based on the cafe eutopia fountain we did 12 or so years ago now, still the centrpiece of the courtyard) the week we returned to Gisborne for the birth of our first grandchild (Bruno – he’s doing well, looking forward to seeing him play around the carved raised beds we made… As you can see, a few more sleeps before that can happen!).

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Anna wasn’t sure about doing water in it so I just made it as a birdbath for now. The ‘finished’ photo isn’t quite – it rained overnight and the paint wasn’t quite dry enough to do the ‘shadowing’ effect by painting on black acrylic paint then wiping it off – you can see the parts where I did manage to do it before I had to catch the plane back home!

the whole thing took about 2-3 full days I guess. Carved mainly with the tungsten paint scraper I recommend in the book Fantastic Ferrocement. http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/152684

I did make a smaller tungsten chisel for the fine details that were in deep inside the ‘tree roots’ where the scaper couldnt reach. I will post on that later – when I’ve perfected it!

Five 6mm rods were the upright reinforcing, with roughly 2mm soft wire wrapped around it to make a finer armature for the two layers of chickenwire (more than two counting inevitable overlap on the curves). Instructions in Fantastic Ferrocement stand – some minor developments, such as using straight rebar tie wires instead of bag ties for tying the rebars together.

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Note the whitish first coat – Resene Limelock to seal in the lime for painting before the plaster is cured. The twist going up the ‘trunk’ is all added – carved into the second thick coat of plaster. Also the ‘roots’ all carved from the extra thick plaster around the base.

I noticed again doing this how good it is to use plenty of plasticiser and mix in the concrete mixer longer than usual for the second coat, until the mix is aerated and wonderfully light and creamy to spread on. Also of course used plenty of fibre. These two things made it possible to get around a one inch  to two or three inch (25-75mm) layer near the base – in one coat.

A deep birdbath/fountain like this can be made safe/shallow for little children by putting gravel in it, I think.

It went so well, while my other stuff (more conceptual things like the Qor game, and my philosophical writing) has been falling on indifferent ears, that I’ve decided to take several people’s advice and do art for a change, sculpt and perhaps paint again, etc. And maybe make enough to keep bank, wife and kids happier…:) I did a little oak carving recently, in that spirit:

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Moonwit Dreams, from my fantasy epic the Apples of Aeden. I made a silicone mould for it too, and have tried some casting in plaster of Paris, oil-finishing the casts by dipping in hot linseed oil, then finishing by ‘shadowing’ as in the original above with dark acrylic.

For any ferro or carved work you want to commission, email me peter@eutopia.co.nz.