Garden Art Creations: QuikWall in the Garden

Posted by @Boopaints on
Our garden art creation this week will both surprise and delight you. Beginners and pros alike will find this mini-tutorial easy to understand and fun to follow. Let's step into the Wisconsin garden of artist Chris Rentmeister, known at ATP as goldfinch4, and learn all about QuikWall.

Imagination has no limit for Chris Rentmeister. Five years ago she decided she wanted to find a material to make strong and beautiful leaves for her garden art collection. That decision took her on a new journey into the wonderful world of QuikWall.

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Chris told me that she originally started creating hypertufa garden pots for her sempervivum. Eventually she became bored making the hypertufa pots and decided to try crafting leaves. “After a lot of research on the internet, I decided to try QuikWall for the leaves because of its strength and the fact that it really picked up a lot of detail from the leaves,” she shared.

QuikWall is a surface bonding cement that is, according to the manufacturer Quikrete, “an alkali resistant, fiberglass reinforced, Portland cement based surface bonding cement used for construction of dry-stack cement block walls.” Technically, it waterproofs and strengthens block walls without mortar, but that is not what Chris had in mind when she began using it for her garden art projects.

Hosta leaves were her first attempt at leaf making with QuikWall. She admitted it took a little time to get the consistency right. Chris shared her beginnings with me:

“With my first few leaves I had it too thin and it kept sliding off the leaves.  Once I had the consistency right, I decided to try my hand at a rhubarb leaf. When making rhubarb leaves, I make them on a mound of sand to give the leaf some shape. My very first one I somehow ended up making "backwards," so instead of the leaf having a nice shallow dip in it, the middle puffed out. It looked pretty ridiculous. Lesson learned!”

Her QuikWall creations certainly have come a long way since that rhubarb leaf; it’s apparent she’s become a skilled artisan.

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Because Chris wanted height in her garden, she made this colorful, freeform piece she calls E5, using QuikWall, chicken wire, and PVC pipe. It rises to about three feet, not including the metal gazing balls she purchased.

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Chris covered these styrofoam balls in QuikWall. While the mixture was still wet, she placed real leaves into the mixture and painted the balls when completely dry.

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This eye-catching totem was made using styrofoam balls that were covered in QuikWall. Chris describes how she made it in a thread in the Garden Art forum.

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According to Chris, QuikWall is very easy to work with and it holds up well outdoors. She’s enjoyed creating a lot of whimsical pieces like these ants, fun additions to any garden.

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Chris says that you can form QuikWall around anything but that you may need to wrap the object you’re covering in a landscape tape or chicken wire. After drying the QuikWall project, she usually paints it with acrylic craft paints and brushes on a sealant called Wet Look Sealer that is designed for concrete. Even though she loves designing garden art pieces with QuikWall, she advises that it is a sealant and not suitable for making pots and containers. She continues to use hypertufa because of its excellent drainage factor.

Birds no doubt flock to these wonderful birdbaths that Chris made out of QuikWall. She made the white birdbath in two pieces and you can read more about it in the QuikWall thread. She told me that if an object is intended to have water standing in it (such as a birdbath), she doesn’t paint it because eventually the sealer and paint will break down. Quikrete also sells a tinting compound you can add to create several natural colors in your project.

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In a mini tutorial, Chris showed how she made the E-5 project, named by her husband for its Extravagant Five stalks. She first took chicken wire and made a free form cup.

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Next, the cup was attached to a PVC pipe that would serve as the post.

2011-08-03/Boopaints/08ba95Then the entire piece was covered in landscape tape, and the layering of QuikWall began. Chris added QuikWall in three layers with overnight drying between each layer, warning that “if you put QuikWall on too heavy, it will just fall off.”

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Chris is a great encourager and told me that when we try QuikWall, it's best to start on a small project. She said it’s important to get the “feel of what you can do with QuikWall, and then let your imagination run wild.”

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Because QuickWall comes in 50-pound bags, you might want to gather a few friends and try something with a group at first. Or, you might find yourself like Chris, who admits she became carried away with creating QuikWall projects. In order to make more (because she was running out of places to put everything), she realized she’d need to get rid of some of her work.  She held a garden art sale on her front lawn.  Her gardening friends, master gardening groups, and clubs, along with people who saw an ad she put in the local newspaper, flocked to her sale. Because she lives on a state highway in a tourist area, she also had a lot of drive-by business. Her first of many sales was a two-day event that she said totally exceeded her greatest expectations. Customers still contact Chris, and she donates items for fundraisers for several organizations. In fact, she is donating the next prize for the Garden Art contest that will be announced in the forum on August 15th!

Chris hopes to make a large QuikWall trellis next year. It might be her largest creation to date. In addition to QuikWall, Chris also creates objects for her garden with plain Portland cement and hypertufa. She also likes woodworking, designing birdhouses, and has begun working with polymer clay to make critters to tuck between her plants.

For more hints and photos on QuikWall, visit the Garden Art forum and check out the QuikWall thread. 

Maybe your imagination, like Chris', will have no limit and your gardens will soon be filled with punches of color and interesting creations!

 

Photos courtesy of Chris Rentmeister

 
Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Quikwall creations by getkent Jan 21, 2016 1:08 PM 2
Fascinating and fabulous creativity... by DavidofDeLand Jan 4, 2015 11:53 AM 1
So pretty by chickhill Dec 13, 2014 1:54 AM 8
Thanks! by LarryR Aug 9, 2011 12:45 AM 10
Wonderful by marti Aug 8, 2011 10:37 AM 4
Wow!! by Ridesredmule Aug 7, 2011 4:23 AM 33

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