Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Papercrete Process.......

To begin making our signature papercrete containers we begin by running newsprint through a strip cut paper shredder. We stuff the cut strips into five gallon buckets until the buckets are well filled.
We then fill the buckets of strips with water and allow the strips to soak for at least a day. Many times these buckets will sit a few days before we get around to turning the soaked paper back into pulp. We have found that thoroughly soggy strips are easier to pulp.
We try to keep several buckets of strips soaking at all times. These have been soaking for over two weeks but they cannot be over soaked.
Well soaked strips are then turned to pulp with an electric drill and a small paint mixer. Five gallon of well soaked strips only take three or four minutes of mixing to get the results one needs for good pulp.
The resulting pulp will be to soggy to use as is. We have a few buckets that over time have developed leaks so I drill lots of quarter inch holes along the sides and bottom of those old buckets. These buckets when filled with the soggy pulp will in twenty four hours time allow the pulp to drain to almost the exact consistency of moisture for proper mixing of the final recipe.
 Five Gallon of finished pulp
We then have three gallon buckets we use to make individual recipes of papercrete mix. This bucket is ready for the addition of portland cement and perlite. We then use the same drill and mixer to mix this thoroughly. Once mixed it is ready to mold into whatever shape you have a mold for or can dream up!
Mold filled and drying.
Finished containers sitting in the greenhouse drying. Having just experienced record cold these containers might take as much as two weeks to completely dry. Once dry we will knock off the rough edges with sandpaper and place on pallets outside to weather until sales season begin early next year. We are expecting bumper sales in 2015!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pots on Stands

We have two choices for this one......find it a new home or build a miniature landscape in it then find it a new home!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Indoor Miniature Gardens.........

As temps start to fall and Autumn days begin to shorten we deconstruct our unsold gardens and consolidate the non hardy plant material into gardens that will tolerate indoor conditions. Today was the day to accomplish that chore. We grabbed some smaller papercrete containers and had fun combining older plant material and new accessories. The pots that have developed some patina over the season will be protected and used again next Spring. We always do our best to maintain the patina since it takes time to happen and many customers gravitate to the "old look".

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

New Colors...........

If you will scroll back through this blog you will see many containers of various color. Those containers were the result of using concrete colorant mixed into the paper pulp prior to adding the other ingredients of the recipe. I am always looking to expand my offerings and color was one way to fulfill that desire.

While the natural color has always been the best seller for us I'm sure there will be a demand for whatever color we can create. I am excited with results of this new finish process and only time will tell about the durability of this new finish. Winter's harshness will be the best test.

Small containers with finish applied, miniature patios installed, and ready for plants and accessories!


Friday, August 1, 2014

Miniature Garden............

My wife and I built a papercrete trough four feet long and sixteen inches wide. No plan just winging it as we went. I had built the mold late last Fall for a custom build project. That project was a success but we had not had time to reuse the mold.

One thing I had been wanting to try was to add feet to a project and with this being a larger project I needed substantial support. One pallet later the garden would have plenty of support and the feet I desired.

After the trough was dry and sanded it was time to add the plant material and accessories. I had set back a few items just for this garden I had been planning to build.

All finished!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pots on Stands.........

Pots on stands! I was sitting at a show just listening to customers compare notes about their gardens when a couple of ladies were discussing pots on their decks. One lady was complaining about water spots left on the deck from pots placed against the wood. Both ladies agreed that plant saucer under the pots took away from the display. But the juicy tidbit to come was that one lady said she liked to use plant stands under the pots which allowed any moisture that ran through when watering to dissipate naturally. We will now offer plant stands at each show and pass along the hint.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

We Like Plants Too........

We began out papercrete journey to fulfill a need for a specific type and size of pot. Journeys begin with a destination in mind but the side trips along the way provide all the fun! While loading the truck for an event this morning I ran across these two containers and decided to do a little planting. I think they will add a little spice to the booth this week.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

One Week of Production.......

A week ago today Peggy and I had an inventory of zero. Knowing that we had two well attended events to vend at this week production went into overdrive. It was a blessing that we had plenty of pulp already soaking and ready to use. I just finished sanding the last pieces and put them on the pile this morning. I will be vending at the University of Tennessee's Summer Celebration in Jackson, Tennessee Thursday July 10th and Peggy will be vending at the Butterfly Festival in Springfield, Missouri on July 12th.

We have presented our product at events in eight states since the first of March. We always have our ears open to what customers might want and those conversations have given us lots of ideas for new designs. Looks like it will be a fun few weeks away from the vending circuit before the Fall craft show circuit starts. The rest of July will be spent drinking sun tea and sitting in the shade trying out new things. 

One new event of note was an invitation to come to Fort Worth, Texas for the Tarrent County Master Gardener's Yard Art Extravaganza on October 25th. Peggy and I will be teaching the "Art of Papercrete" and vending at the event. Watch our Upcoming Classes page for more info on the event!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Custom Build..........

When we have building time and sometimes when we do not a request for something custom made is called in. A majority of the time those requests are made during our busiest times of the year and we just say when we have time but this one was for a special customer and I'm sure it is a project that might open lots of doors in the future. 

I found the metal stands in a flea market some time back and liked their looks. At the time I did not have a purpose for them but that changed quickly when someone needed a tall display. The bowls atop the stands are to be planted with miniature landscapes for display and the customer wanted something taller than normal to make the presentation a little closer to eye level. I was quite pleased with the results and I hope the customer will be also.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Trying to keep up.......

We had hundreds of pieces ready for sale in February and thought we had a good start on having enough ready for Spring sales. It's nearing the end of April and demand again has exceeded our inventory. While I'm pleased that folks like our product I'm again overwhelmed with my lack of ability to manufacture product fast enough to meet demand. We are popping pieces out of the molds daily in hopes of having enough to at least satisfy most of our customers wants!

Part of our problem is that we keep finding new molds to play with. When one has thirty plus different shapes and seven colors to play with the offerings can be as varied as the weather here in Southwest Missouri. Then we started making some items with two colors of mix which compounds the variations drastically! My latest project was a hanging basket and it sold before I had a chance to capture an image.........

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spring has Sprung..............

Winter was long and the snow it fell,
but Spring has sprung and it sure is swell,
now the sun is shining and all is fine,
because to me it's Fairy Garden Making time!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

February Mini Gardens.......

February is the beginning of the show circuit for us. While most of our plant material is still asleep we still gather enough to build gardens for each weekend show. Winter seems to be hanging on with extra vigor this year but the last weekend in February brought customers to a show in force. Folks are anxious to garden and were ready to begin gathering supplies to do so. The mini/fairy gardening phenomenon is steadily growing and it is our aim to do everything possible to fulfill our customers wants in that department. First we build the containers then we fill them with our signature little gardens. Both the gardens pictured above found new homes over the weekend. Time to build more!! 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A New Class........

We will debut a new class for our papercrete students in 2014. The new class will be using the same recipe as our basic class but will include a shell mold and hints on advanced molding and finishing techniques. We began making these bowls in the Fall and they were an instant hit on the craft show circuit. We have had fun building some fairy gardens in a few and always get compliments on the finished product.