Lori Hough
(231) 924-8056

Trout Armatures

Applying Concrete

Group Photo
Ferro-concrete is a technique that has been used in boat building. It is best described as a shell of steel and wire mesh plastered with cement or concrete resulting in a relatively light weight but strong structure. This is a technique that works wonderfully for exterior and public sculpture. It can be dyed, stained or pigmented to affect its coloration. Because the sculpture is not solid this makes transportation and installation less costly than heavy solid concrete.

One technique I use is to weld and form the general shape of the sculpture out of rolled steel wire. Layers of wire are pulled tight to the welded form and then "plastered" with a cement and sand mix. Dyes can be added to this mix or stains can be added later. The cemented sculpture must be kept hydrated ideally for 28 days for the concrete to reach its near maximum strength. A sealant is then applied to the sculpture. The result is a long lasting permanent sculpture.

Another method that I have used is to first carve the sculpture out of Styrofoam and cover this with wire mesh. A thin layer of concrete is then plastered over the entire structure. The result is a light weight decorative exterior sculpture where very long-term permanence is not required.

As a Group Project

One of the nicest things I have discovered in sculpting in concrete is the comaraderie formed by all the folks working together on "plastering" day. Each person, whether mixing concrete or applying it, became an associate creator of the sculpture. Because so much of the shape of the sculpture is accomplished with the armature, this makes a good choice for a group project. The initial armature/form can be sculpted at my studio then transported to another location where the concrete plastering can be done by a group of people with my supervision. A little artist ability is helpful but most important is the willingness to dig in, get dirty, have fun and work quickly. This might be a good option to get a community to feel more connected to their public sculpture.

Care and Maintenance

With ferro-concrete it is most important that the sculpture not dry out and be protected from being marred or damaged while curing. A sealant is then added to the finished sculpture. Periodic reapplication of this sealant will be necessary throughout its life. Some of the available sealants only need to be reapplied once every ten years.