Every time I produce a new book I learn something new. Usually, this new thing is a handy trick for tight registration, or a hard lesson about the perils of printing on a slick plastic surface, or a weirdly specific new jig system for edition binding. This time, however, my learning curve is steeper and my materials are weirder. For your pleasure, blog friends, I’d like to invite you into my basement, where I am currently learning hard lessons (ha!) about casting cement.
Concrete? Cement? Concrete? Cement is a powder of lime and clay which is mixed with an aggregate such as sand, marble dust, or gravel, to make concrete. When I say there is concrete in my box, I am actually lying to you. I’m casting pure cement. I say concrete half the time because my mouth and brain are lazy, and I am playing fast and loose with the English language.
Full disclosure: when faced with the prospect of building molds and pouring concrete*, the first thing I tried to do was get someone else to do it. I tried to get someone else to do it so hard and for so long that I almost ran completely out of time. In mid-October, with a December shipping deadline and absolutely zero shapes and zero molds, I stopped by to see my friends Brandon and Amy (furniture makers, factory owners, building-materials-knowledge havers) in Geneva, NY. And you know what happened? A concrete* miracle
Up until this point I had been sure I’d need to make multiple silicon molds, each in two or three parts, to cast the platonic solids that I needed for this project. Brandon and I even ordered some silicon to mix and play with. But because we are dumb, and maybe because we ordered that silicon late at night, we neglected to realize that it would take more hours to set than we had together. We were about to give up, about to shrug our shoulders and move on with our lives, when we hit upon something huge. The biggest thing to happen to platonic solids since Timaeus. ** A bold new equation:
Publix supermarket place mats + packing tape = reusable, collapsible mold.
And so began a new stage in the project: The part where, you know, I could actually finish the project.
There are always more questions. I am working them out as I go, often with the help of friends. Q: What kind of concrete* should I use? A: Hydraulic CEMENT for stopping leaks. Q: How fast will it set? A: Wayyyy faster than you think. Q: How do I vibrate the bubbles out while the cement is setting? A: Order something really special from the internet. Q: Do I want a variety of surfaces? A: maybe. Q: How do I get a variety of surfaces? A: I have no idea, but it is happening anyway.
Here is another equation: 9 shapes per box x 50 boxes = 450 shapes. I better go.
Over and out.
**This is the most obscure joke I will ever make in my life. Scout’s honor.
Always enjoy your post and your work.