How to build monumental concrete sculptures : LUSENET : Public Art : One Thread

I am interested in exploring the possibility of creating monumental realistic scupltures of animals and humans. How viable is concrete or other materials for giant sculptures and what is the cost and technique involved?

Thanks for any information or leads!

-- Ken Favrholdt (, March 19, 1999


Hi Ken, depends on what you mean by 'monumental'. I am not an artist, but I know of the techniques involved. There is a cement sculpture of a lifesize rhinocerous near me: it has a tubular steel frame around which cement was built up. The surface was treated with four coats of lacquer to make it waterproof and extremely hard wearing (gives it such a different feel almost like a metal mixture): this seems a good idea. I think the concrete is quite expressive (you can work the surface with your hands I suppose). I hope this helps, Jeremy

-- Jeremy Beach (, March 26, 1999.

To make a monumental scupltures of animals you must first make a frame out of steel construction rebar to support the weight of the cement, with out the proper support the cement will break under it's own weight. The rebar frame must have the basic shape of the animal, depending on the size of the statue, depends the size of rebar you must use to support the weight. If the statue would be rather small life size animal, maybe the size of a cow, you could use 1/8" rebar, crossed over every 10" squared, if twice the size, 3/8" rebar must be use, etc.

Once you have the rebar support frame in the right shape, you cover the frame with wire mesh, this can be common chicken wire mesh folded over. The wire mesh will let you give more detail of the features of the statue, chicken wire mesh is easiest to use, because it can be molded more easily to more detailed shapes then other stronger wire mesh materials. Remember folding the chicken wire mesh will give more support to the cement's spreading/mudding.

Do use rubber gloves when working with cement, it does have acid/lime in it and it will eat at your hand's skin.

The cement's mix is about 50/50 percent of fine sand with construction/grey cement or portland/white cement. The mix should be thick like mud, it should stick together in clumps once mixed. Once the right thickness of the mixture is done it will cover the wire mesh right, too wet and it will fall into the holes of the mesh, just right will fill it in and hold it's on weight until it cures. Drying/curing stages are important when working the cement, the cement must be in a curing state that it is firm enough that your finger finds it firm, but it is still damp and can be worked on. When it is firm but still damp more cement may be added and more work can be done on the statue.

Portland cement is white in color and is sometimes prefered for making light colored statues because this can be mixed with colored mineral powder to give tints to the cement, even different colores to the statue. If you would like a marble effect, use regular construction cement for darker colors, lets say like making a green marble effect to the statue, mix 10% of green colored mineral powder to the construction/grey cement mix, then after the statue is done but still damp/wet on the surface, take a brush and brush in pure green/black powdered mineral powder in lines for veins on the surface of the almost finished statue, also use pure white cement to create white veins in the statue's surface to create a marble effect. A stone effect can be done this way with Portland/white cement using yellow/brown mineral powder. Once almost dried, a dry piece of thick foam rubber is used to take off loose sand and help to polish the surface.

There are a lot more tricks for cememt scuplturing but to explain them all, I would have to write a book about it to explain it all.

I hope this helps.

Sincerely, Eddie Ferrer Commerical Artist.

-- Eddie Ferrer (, March 01, 2004.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ