Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Paving stones

I'm in the process of redoing the front yard. I want to give it an area that is covered in paving stones like we saw in one area of the game "Myst 3 - Exile". It involves a bunch hexagonal stones that are a bit red.

I'm gonna tell you about my failed attempts first. Later you can see the stuff that works.

Probably the most important thing is that the concrete doesn't stick to things you don't want them to stick to. Which is really pretty much everything. I kept it from sticking to my card table by covering the table with plastic.

I then put down a brick and marked it's edge on the plastic. Measuring off 60° I put down another brick and marked it's edge. I did this until I got a hexagon.
The bricks were wrapped in more of the plastic and placed back in the hexagon.

This is what I had to mix concrete in. It doesn't hold a lot. It takes 4-5 refills to be able to fill the mold I made from the blocks. For the batch that will make up the very top I poured in a brick that I had pulverized.

I didn't want just sidewalk gray for the blocks. I wanted them reddish. So I took some old bricks from the yard and from under the house and smashed them. They were smashed with a hammer and then ground to a powder in a mortar and pestle. What you see above is brick powder being added to the mix. I ended up dumping a whole brick worth of powder in there.

After it was all poured I had this. See? Not gray.

When the concrete dried the plastic covered bricks came away fairly easily. I moved the block to a shelf from some bookcase that I wasn't using and took it outside to bake in the sun.
You can see the color difference between the concrete with no brick vs the concrete that has it.
You can also see the strange texture that the plastic left on the sides of the block. Not a problem for the blocks in the middle. Less cool for the ones on the outside.

After baking in the sun for a couple of days the block was tested. It held up nicely. I had to do this test because the very first block seemed hard but wasn't left to bake in the sun and broke in three pieces when weight was put on it.

At this point there are several things I wanted to work on. I didn't like the texture of the sides. I needed to find another way to prevent the concrete from sticking to the bricks... er, the mould. Brick powder wasn't as useful a dye as I'd hoped. And my hand hurt from working the mortar and pestle.

You'll find out what I did once I take more pictures.

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