Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stone Faces: Don't Follow Directions

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stone Faces: Don't Follow Directions

Article excerpt

Byline: TOM SZAROLETA By ROGER BULL

USING REQUISITE THREE CUPS OF WATER CREATES 'CONCRETE SOUP'

By TOM SZAROLETA

The Times-Union

Here's a useful piece of advice for anyone working with the Make Your Own Stone Faces Kit. Take liberties with the directions. The kit includes everything you need to make a stone face you can hang on a fence or attach to a clay pot. Just add water, and you're in business.

If you follow the instructions and add the requisite three cups of water to the concrete mix, you get concrete soup, which dries into a brittle mess. Use 2 3/4 cups, and you'll get a fine mix that resembles - well - concrete and dries into a hard shell that should last pretty much forever.

Fortunately, my daughter and I made two of the Stone Faces. The first was a soupy mess that flaked and cracked when we removed the finished product from the reusable plastic mold. The instructions say you can mix sand or soil "that doesn't have rocks and gravel in it" into the soup to firm it up. All that was handy was some dirt from a nearby flower bed, complete with chunks of mulch. Once you start the project, there's no time to run to a store or playground for extra sand. The last-minute addition of flower bed dirt didn't create a pretty result.

For the second planter, we reduced the water and ended up with a perfectly solid face.

tom.szaroleta@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4548

ADDING SOIL TO MIXTURE THICKENED IT, BUT IT NEVER REALLY SOLIDIFIED

By ROGER BULL

The Times-Union

I followed the instructions. I really did.

Add three cups of water to the concrete powder mix, the Stone Faces instructions said. I measured it exactly, poured three cups into the bag and I had soup. It was way too watery. I could have sucked it through a straw had I been in the mood for some cement slurpage.

The instructions said: "If you accidentally add too much water (which I hadn't) and your concrete becomes too soupy (which it had) . . . add some sand or dry dirt to thicken it up."

OK, I had a bag of potting soil nearby and added a trowel full, then another, then another. Eventually, the mixture was thick enough to put into the mold, but the light gray cement had turned dark and muddy. …

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