Saturday, May 21, 2011

Brick by Brick

Between building my cemetery pillars and remodeling my basement, space has become a premium in my garage. I got 14 sheets of 5/8" sheetrock for free from a Yahoo! group called Freecycle and they're stacked to one side of the single-car space while my columns take up the middle. While I'm slowly making my way through the sheetrock, I figured if I'm really ever going to open up any room in the garage I'm going to have to get these columns done and put into storage.

So after lots of procrastination I began work on them again. The one column had the rigid foam insulation already applied while the other is still just the frame. Since I don't have space just yet to go get and store more insulation to skin the second one, I figured I'd do the design work on the first and at least get it out of the way.

Of course, working without any clear idea in mind as to the exact effect I want is difficult, but I decided that rather than brick it would have something of a stacked stone look. After laying out how big I wanted the courses to be, I measured and scored them, then began the laborious process of using a wood burning tool to make the mortar lines.

While that was actually quick enough, I didn't want neat, sharp lines since these are supposed to be aged pillars. So after making the outlines of the stones I wanted using a straight edge (the stones would have been straight and orderly when initially set), I went back and began "aged" them by rounding off corners and generally "unsmoothing" the neatness. That was the time consuming process.

Once that was done, I used a technique I had seen on a vlog by Steve's Haunted Yard where you spray water onto the foam and then hit it using a heat gun. It gives the foam a stone look almost instantly. Very cool! (I looked for but couldn't find the link to the exact video. Sorry.)

I only finished two sides of the column and will complete the other two today (hopefully). The second side took a little bit longer than the first because it was the side I have my access panel on and I wanted to disguise its presence so there are a number of smaller and misshapen stones there. While I think it hides it fairly well for the most part, it took a lot more time to do all those extra stones. But it also underscores why I built my foam-cutting tools: the score-with-a-razor technique left a lot to be desired. I'm confident my second column will come out much better using my hot wire cutters.

And while I probably don't have to coat them in Monster Mud before painting, I probably will anyway to cover up as many imperfections as possible. Then adding a bit of Drylok on top of that will give an additional layer of protection and stone-like appearance.

On a side note, it was actually odd using Drylok on a non-haunt-related project. While I don't have a problem of water leaks in my basement, since I'm putting up new walls on the exterior concrete block, I figured it was a bit of preventive maintenance to cover them in Drylok to inhibit any moisture that might want to work its way in after I put them up. Now that that's done, I'll be able to finish another corner of the laundry room. But that means it's almost time then to renovate the back stairwell which entails tearing down my old stairs and building new ones.

How the heck can I make Halloween props when my wife insists on me finishing the basement? That's the difference between doing the work yourself and hiring a contractor to come in. They'll be in and out quickly while I have the luxury of squeezing it in around skinning my cemetery pillars. I'm thinking though I may have to focus on getting the stairwell done quickly though. I might want clean clothes occasionally and I don't want to have to tell my wife, "Careful going to the basement, honey. That first step's a doozy!"


  1. those pillars are lookin' good and thanks for that tip using the water and the heat gun. can't wait to try that one!

  2. Procastination? You call that procastination? But it's not October 30th!


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