I had an idea, quite a while ago, about a different way of using my 3D letter templates, and then I got some emails recently that prompted me to do something about it.
The first email was from the Crafts Council of Ireland and was about some garden designers who were looking for handmade items for the Bloom Garden Festival. One particular designer needed letters made from stone, wood or metal for their garden. It got me thinking... and then I got a message from another Etsy Ireland team member, Mollie of Spleodar, saying that she got the same CCOI email and that she thought of my letters when she saw it.... so I decided it was time to conduct a 3D letter experiment!
I found some very cooperative helpers, my nieces Anne and Grace (proprietors of Muddy Little Paws on Etsy) who were on their Easter holidays, and we did some research into making a type of artificial rock called hypertufa. The mixture we used was one part portland cement, 1.5 parts perlite (to make it lightweight) and 1.5 parts peat moss (this washes away when it dries out giving the piece a rough texture). I made two moulds, the letters A and G, by modifying my 3D letter templates slightly. Portland cement has lime in it so we mixed up the ingredients very carefully (with gloves on!), added water, filled up the moulds and left them to cure.
The curing/drying process took just over a week in total, but after a few days I was able to take them out of the moulds. They were solid but still quite wet and very peaty looking. After a few more days they were much lighter and made a hollow sound when I tapped them which meant they were fully cured.
So the experiment was a success! I rang the garden designer, Mark O'Loughlin of Sanctuary Synthetics, to see if my hypertufa letters would be suitable for his design, and the answer was yes! I'm making them this week so that they'll be ready for Bloom at the Phoenix Park, Thursday 2nd June to Monday 6th June 2011. "Ireland's biggest garden festival" don't ya know!
The garden has an Alice in Wonderland theme and you can find out more on the Bloom Wonderland Garden Blog where Mark will be sharing his experience and counting down to the festival.
Keep an eye on Milo's facebook page too for updates about our garden letters!!