Make Hypertufa

Handmade Projects for Beautiful Gardens

Garden Molds the Hypertufa Way
Whether heavier cement or lighter Hypertufa, enjoy the stone look for decades.  So, look everywhere for molds.  Plastic forms are the easiest, most popular, inexpensive, and reusable.  Find great shapes in your own kitchen, at yard sales, Goodwill, and discount stores.  The four plastic bowls to the left were Big Lot specials for $2 to $4 each.
Think mold containers: buckets, waste baskets, bowls, kids' beach pails, cardboard boxes, wooden boxes, a Styrofoam ice chest, trash cans, or even dig a hole and fill it.  But, avoid sticky stainless steel.
Brick Mold

 Wood Molds
Wooden molds can take longer to make and may require special tools but are very sturdy and reusable long term.  Of course it's a challenge to build rounded lines.  So, use wood for your pedestals, square concrete stepping stones, and making concrete blocks and bricks.
Consider using a router or quarter rounds and left over trim boards on the inside for interesting lines.  
I like using sheet rock screws to join the structure and then unscrew the pieces for release of the mold.  As for all molds, lining with plastic garbage bags aids release and the folds give the stone a more realistic look.
To make bricks. . .
  • Make an 8 foot long ladder like mold, using 1 x 4's. 
  • Dado slots for thinner wood to use as cross pieces and ends.
  • Use wood such as 1/4" wood subflooring or paneling for the cross pieces, making them the length and width of your desired bricks -  not too long please. 
  • Make the bricks 2.5 to 3 inches thick for strength. 
  • Place the ladder like mold on a flat surface that has a release agent on it.
  • Use a release medium like 10w motor oil, Vaseline, mineral oil, or plastic bags on all contact surfaces.
  • Be sure to allow the bricks to set for 2 to 3 days to avoid breakage.  
  • Optional: Add different cement color pigments to various batches for a checker board effect in the finished project. 
Styrofoam Projects
A favorite flexible molding medium is foam board.  Create a design and cut Styrofoam in layers that map together for the taller creation.  Hot wire foam cutting is easy and can be very creative.  The hot wire cutter makes a clean cut that sears the Styrofoam.  No mess, no stickiness, no burn marks, no little balls floating around, just easy cuts.  
Plastic Molds
Plastic containers are plentiful and come in a myriad of shapes and sizes and thus are favorites of Hypertufa enthusiasts.   Some guidelines include:
  • Use tapered forms.  Straight vertical forms are impossible to release.
  • Avoid ridges or indentations that will trap the mold.
  • If the ridges are deep consider cutting the side to just below the ridges and duck taping to use.
Holes in the Ground
To construct stepping stones, cut out a form 3 inches deep in the ground.  Line it with plastic and fill it with Hypertufa.  Cover it and leave for 3 days.  Then carefully dig it up, texturize the stone's surface with a wire brush, and cure it for 30 days.
You can also cut Styrofoam into creative shapes.  Place them on a board, line with plastic, and fill as usual.
Leaf Molds
  • Find leaves in several sizes that have lovely veins showing on the back side.   Rhubarb and Hostas leaves work well.
  • Make a graduated pile of damp sand 1-2 inches high to support and mold the entire leaf which you turn upside down.
  • Mix 1:1 Portland cement and fine sand to a frosting consistency.
  • Spread a release agent like Vaseline on the leaf.
  • Spoon the cement mixture over the backside of the leaf beginning down the middle vein and then down the sides.  Allow 1-1.5 inch thickness and dry for 3-4 days in the shade before you turn it over.   Place a plastic cover over the project to protect it and keep it moist.
  • Carefully peal off as much leaf as possible.  Use picks and toothpicks to pick away at the leaf.  Or, let it rot and wash off.  It can be difficult so be patient.
  • Let it cure, keeping it hydrated for 30 days.
  • Paint and seal, thinning the paint with water for a colored wash effect.
See our leaf casting video found on YouTube.
Clean Up Tips
Clean up all molds and utensils immediately if you want to reuse them.   Be careful not to touch the outside of the mold while you are filling it.  The cement will harden and become difficult if not impossible to remove.   Don't let the children rinse the hypertufa mix into your plumbing system.   Dig a hole and bury it.   Or let it settle in the bottom of a rinse bucket and spoon it out into an old carton later.





Hypertufa Manual


Hypertufa Molds, Steps, Recipes, Projects, Tips, Curing, Texturing . . .
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