The construction of the field of spheres was spread over a week because of the nature of cement, our experimentation and other obligations. We started small with a 18' and 24" sphere, then went to the big one and then on to four at once. Here are some discoveries along the way....
We used corrugated cardboard and created collars to help hold the cement. The goal was to maximize the area we could cover in a single application. This was on the spheres that used the 1/4" mesh hardware cloth. We found the collar wasn't necessary when we changed to the 1/2" mesh. In the above photo we applied the cement down to the collar. We let it set from about 30 minutes, removed the collar and chipped off the ridge. After doing both sides it looked like this.....
Kind of scuptural as is. We then filled in the equator in several apply/set steps. We had to keep the balls wrapped in plastic and wet between applications because the weather stared getting very hot. We wanted to slow the curing process down so the two first balls were wrapped and ignored for several days as we tackled the big ball.
Ideas we applied to the big ball were as follows:
1. We wrapped it in multiple layers of plastic film hoping to be able to reuse the ball but also to skip the taping of the edges step. This was a mistake. We couldn't get the ball out of the sphere and the ball did get punctured. We kept a compressor nearby and kept filling it up until the first layer was set.
2. We moved our work area into the woods near the final location because we don't think this big ball will be easy to move once complete. This was a good choice because we were out of the sun and the final ball is about 400+ lbs we estimate (based on the number of bags of concrete we used- 8 for this one ball). It was a better work area and we stopped filling the lawn with concrete droppings. Just don't wear crocs to work in the woods!
3. We tried a modified collar supported on five gallon buckets. While this worked well on the smaller balls it didn't on the larger one. It caused a fairly large ridge that we couldn't remove later. The ball has more imperfections in shape because of it.
It was better just working the ball without the collar and applying the cement in sections.
4. The cement worked well into the 1/2" mesh. The little stones in the cement fit better.
It is really looking impressive and quite round in spite of the lumpy ridge we made with the collar. It is so round that we had to prop it to keep it in place.
As we worked the biggest ball, our two first balls were happily curing in their plastic bags. Finally, we loaded them onto a cart and wheeled them into the grassy glade to get a first peek.
Very cool. We knew we needed more. So another trip to Lowe's, more of everything and some more experiments.
At this point family members were starting to call for regular updates and stop by to get advanced peeks. They all get into the spirit of Sculpture Week - and acknowledge that we are wonderfully weird! More to come....
Previous links of interest:
- Sculpture Week 2011 - Part 1
- Sculpture Week 2010
- Sculpture Week 2009
- The Balls That Got Away
- Balls in the Garden
©2011 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy