This composition is called the Power Point Observatory and Light House.
It has been achieved by composite construction and it is part of a larger whimsical garden theme.
Part 1: How to make: The Cone Head
- The square bottom of a basic orange safety cone was cut off. This safety cone could have been lifted off our highways but it was purchased instead at Home Depot for $ 10.00.
Studies of the cones at Home depot proved that the dimensions of the cone would have worked well in the grand scheme of things.
- The base of the cone was cut off carefully so that eventually the conical form would stand up as straight as possible. The texture of the cone shown was achieved by spraying a lot of the release agent which consisted of a butter flavor cooking spray and the spraying was not a fine mist but rather sporadic and chunky.
- A doubled up plastic bag was wrapped around the smaller hole and fastened with rubber bands.
- The cone was placed in a deep container, small hole down, and towels used on the side to hold the cone up straight while the concrete was poured.
A slender classic white plastic waste basket worked fine.
- The cone was filled with ready mix concrete. When almost to the top of the base, a flat bowl was placed on the top of the safety cone base to just about cover the big opening.
The flat bowl placed around the cone base fit just right and when the cone was eventually flipped with wet concrete, it helped stop the migration of water.
- Holding the bottom of the waste basket with one hand and holding the bowl over the bigger opening over the cone with the other hand, the cone full of concrete was flipped. Then the waste basket as well as the plastic over the small hole was removed.
- The square bottom of the cone that was cut off earlier, with teeth up, was pushed down from the top over the cone all the way down to the flat bowl.
The idea was to hold the cone from migrating upward.
I was able to find a thick and tough Tupperware lid from the old days which was used at the base of the cone. This prevented the concrete at the bottom from running everywhere. Small bungee cords were wrapped around the base of the cone in and out of the teeth of the loose cutout square base and were hooked to the Tupperware lid.
- When secured, more concrete was poured from the top into the small hole. As the cone was shaken gently to let the concrete inside stack, the cone migrated upward releasing some concrete at the bottom on the bowl. More concrete was gently poured through the small hole at the top but the concrete sunk again. It was a give and take situation but the cone was topped off in the end. The total migration of the plastic cone upward was probably about an inch at the base but that was ok because it was to be used to anchor the cone to the next piece of the project.
- A large marble was inserted on the top and tapped down gently until it submerged about a hair beyond the equator. This was to be the light of the light house.
- Since the cone had very minimal surface area from which to release its moisture, it was left to cure for 2 days.
- With a lid remover for one gallon paint cans, the bottom was pried gently all the way around. The cone slid off easily once the seal at the bottom was released.
The concrete cone head was left in the sun to dry but misted with water every couple of hours.
The making of the cone head sounds like a big job but it is all about planning your moves.
Part 2: How to make: The Light House
- The concrete cone was placed in a flower pot saucer but before that the base was soaked with water for a little bit.
- This prevented the cone from rapidly absorbing too rapidly the water from the concrete that was to be poured. Attention was also paid so that the saucer and the concrete cone were level.
- The saucer had previously been sprayed with a release agent.
- A bit of concrete was poured under the cone and then all around its base. Given the situation, the round cap of a detergent jug leveled and compacted the concrete around the saucer in a flash.
- With a credit type card, indentations all the way around the cone were made to resemble water.
- With a trowel more concrete was delivered around the base of the cone to symbolize rubble.
- Marbles were placed as desired and tapped gently down a hair above their equator.
- The composition was left to dry and the saucer mold removed 24 hours later while paying great attention to corner edges. Depending on the job you might want to use binding compounds to ease the adherence of dry to wet concrete.
The cone heads by themselves with crystal balls embedded at the tip would capture incredible reflections and make very interesting unique garden sculptures when dispersed tastefully in the garden.
The sun’s rays will penetrate the crystal balls making them look like they are on fire and their light would seem to be coming from down deep within the cones. Guaranteed!
Safety cones come in different sizes and proportions. Some, like the ones on the highway, are really pointed and part of the tip with the small hole might have to be tailored.
The triangle shown can draw perfect free hand lines from point A to an exact point B.
It has been beaten against some hard surfaces and at times shaven a bit with a utility knife.
The free hand edge offers speed, consistency and accuracy.
By shaping the edge and by the line weights applied, the level of the free hand look is custom managed by the user.
The triangle is easily portable and when used with a T-square that has also been altered to look free hand, will speed up the sketching process by reducing the erasing of some lines.
These are handy tools for textures such as shingles that require repetitive lines.
The edges of an adjustable triangle treated this way would speed up free hand isometrics.
A wooden ruler altered as a free hand edge would be a nice portable tool but not offer the versatility of the triangle and T-square. Being softer however, it would probably generate more pronounced squiggles.
A few of these free hand edges on hand, maneuvering the pencil and line weight would help not making these lines look totally alike.
The Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball writing instrument available in different ball sizes, can be refilled with water proof India ink and with no mess.
Use it to write in distinguishable jet black ink or use it to sketch.
• India ink
• The pen
How to do it:
• With the pliers grab the nib as close as possible to the barrel.
• A gentle twisting and pulling action will remove the nib and the inner core which are attached.
• It will leave the barrel ready to be filled with ink.
• Wash away with water the ink that came with the pen.
• Use the eye dropper to fill with ink.
• Return the nib and core back to the barrel.
• Wipe nib with a small piece of paper towel.
Create this India ink pen in about 10 minutes or so.
• These pens have proven not to clog easily but if abandoned
for a long time clogging may occur.
Next time you buy India ink, try Pelikan Fount India which
does not contain the shellac that causes the clogging.
• Red pen and black ink?
The two sketches were done with an altered felt tip marker.
By altered it is meant that three incisions through the wide felt tip and toward the barrel were made with a utility knife. This generated the triple line brush type look.
Take the amount of lines you see in parts of the sketches and divide by 3. Those are the number of strokes that produced them.
The sketches have been taken a step further:
1. Photographed in black and white.
2. Developed over 8×10 negative film which means that what was black on the paper became transparent and what was white became black.
3. White and red paper, as well as copper simulated film were applied to the back of the negative film for color.
The technique allows a single as well as multiple colors or even a texture to be used in back of the film.
If the negative film of the swamp had red paper in the back, because of the luster of the film, it would look like red ink.
One can easily take a Flair felt tip pen and give it a chisel point either by using a utility knife or a pair of scissors.
One can also alter the felt tips in other creative ways, even getting a spongy effect when they are way too butchered.
Some chisel pointed felt tip pens are out there for the purchase but the methods above can customize to suit needy situations and will not be found in the school supplies section.
If nothing else we could say “I did it my way”.
As the name might imply, this is a byproduct of a Tupperware mold. In this case a bowl.
It can be used by itself or with another piece making it an artistic garden composition.
There is a tile in the middle of the saucer under the tupperoid.
If the tupperoid is removed, the saucer can still be interesting by itself.
Refer to the ‘concrete for the home’ category for tips on concrete, tools and molds.
Also referred to as the Bald Pyramid within a small circle of friends, this is another variation of the Helical Pyramid.
This time an old slide projector lens was used. This pyramid also belongs to the sweating fountain type since the depression of the saucer will hold some water even when the saucer becomes totally dry.
The pyramid will remain wet, drying eventually from the top down.
It is called the Oculus Pyramid because, like the Pantheon in Rome, the structure is wet on the outside and dry below the oculus.
Refer to the ‘concrete for the home’ category for tips on concrete, tools and molds.
A flower bed with a natural slope and tendency to shed to the left with heavy rains and watering, thus creating ponding over the walkway.
A low stepped retaining garden wall made of concrete shells with an enclosure to trap, manage and celebrate the water that otherwise would be a nuisance.
Groundcover will control erosion and keep the concrete shells cleaner from dirt.
The garden wall as it formed and things fell into place, suggested a whimsical composition titled Bay of Pirates. It was a procedure of patience and lots of tinkering.
Eventually it became suddenly obvious when the overall composition was complete the way it was.
The fable goes like this:
Water sheds to the left reaching the Bay of Pirates where it is contained. When the dirt is hosed wet just right during dry weather, a steel rake can provide a texture resembling water, sort of like Japanese dry gardening.
When the Bay overflows it does so into the Golden Pond which has been made with a 24” concrete saucer. The saucer has a drain hole and a solar light.
Erosion is the sole contributor to naming it Golden Pond.
Above it all sitting on a large 24” concrete saucer is The Power Point Observatory and Light House.
Across the walkway eventually there might be Frog Mountain, a 3 foot concrete volcano with a toad sitting on a carpet of baby tears in the caldera.
The volcano and Golden Pond will anchor the entry to a small area dominated by a lemon tree. This is Lemon Land.Refer to the ‘concrete for the home’ category for tips on concrete, tools and molds.
Concrete at the price of $2.69 x 60lb bag would make the price of a concrete shell about $.34 if not less. All the shells together cost about $34.00. The total composition not counting tiles and marbles, the solar lamp post and the bird nest would be about $37.00.
This decorative concrete ornament is meant to hang and sway from a tree branch. It is about 12”x8”x1”+-
It took about half hour to make at a negligible cost.
The front has a rubble look with marbles embedded to catch the light.
The back of the ornament is slightly concave and in this case it holds a head made spontaneously.
This concave area is ideal for religious icons and statuettes.
1. Fill a plastic bag with desired amount of sand.
2. Place on flat surface with the extra plastic down under the sand bag.
3. Shape your form in oval, round, square or free form fashion.
Think of width and depth.
Notice the interesting texture above the head in the picture. It is from the creases of the plastic bag.
4. Pour the concrete over the sand bag tapping and shaping gently.
5. Tap with the trowel marbles, pebbles or anything else. Embed a hook at the end of the composition.
Let slow dry for a day in shaded area.
6. Flip and remove from the sand bag. Set the composition on top of the bag for protection and with a spray bottle spray water for adhesion where you’ll be placing the head.
7. Mix the concrete and shape a head.
Bungee cords are wonderful in the garden. The ones where the hook and the cord are separate pieces will allow adjusting of the hook so that the art work faces the desired direction.
• 20” tall garden clay pot. $20 each
• An inherited refrigerator glass shelf to add a touch of Dadaism.
• (2) continuous color changing night lights from Costco.
The lights fade from one color to another and bland two colors into a third. Chances to get them both red are extremely slim.
The lights can also be set so that colors do not change.
• An old CD.
• Clear marbles.
• Extension cord.
• Larger felt pads for the floor and smaller clear pads for the glass.
How to make:
1. Take white latex paint and dilute. Maybe 1 part paint, 4 parts water. White wash the interior to a desired shade.
2. Use (4) ¾” felt pads at bottom of the pot to protect the floor and to raise the pot enough to allow electrical wiring clearance.
3. Insert an electrical extension cord into the pot through the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot. The hole might have to be enlarged with a drill to allow the cord’s plug to go through. The extension cord should be able to receive at least 2 plugs.
4. Cut a slit through a CD to the hole and let the extension cord slide through the slit and into the center of the CD’s shiny face up.
5. Place clear marbles on top of the CD.
6. The CD and the marbles are for reflection. The CD is also to refrain the marbles from going through the drainage hole of the pot.
7. Plug 2 continuous color changing night lights to the extension cord.
8. Almost done!
9. Place a small clear rubber pad at each corner of the pot’s rim, gooey side up, so that the protection pads will adhere to the glass.
10. Connect the extension cord to the power.
The night stands (or anything you want them to be) will come alive in their elegance
during the darkness of night emitting very subtle color changes.
The pots come in different heights and could be
shocking focal points in outdoor spaces tastefully vegetated.
The night stand shown above would be very nice as a glass coffee table accompanied by a black leather coach and chairs while the inside could be orchestrated differently.
The energy and money used for this artistic furniture luxury is miniscule in relation to the many other ways we can save.
Please note these last pictures may appear much darker on some monitors.