Perserverence Leads to Impressive Stone Grotto Project

The Faux Finisher by Patrick Ganino - 04/01/2009

Anyone doing walk-ins on new construction? We have had much luck with this over the years. It is not for the faint of heart so tighten your belt and keep moving forward.

scan0022.jpgay morning I was driving down main st. in Middletown. I noticed a new restaurant under construction. It had all the typical promos with paper signs saying coming soon. I decided to walk in and give it a pitch.

Visualize a half done restaurant, wood paneling not stained and two gentlemen to the right cutting tile. I asked them
if the owner was in and they said no. I then asked what the owners name was and if they had his number. They proceeded to ignore me.

(I could have left at this point and no one would have been dissappointed, I mean heck I gave it my best effort)

I didn't though. I looked to my left and saw the carpenter. I ask him the same questions and he told me the owner was down the street at the granite and tile shop he owned. I didn't even know that there was a granite
and tile shop down the street (shame on me).

(Second chance to go home, and all would be well in the world)

I didn't though. I figured at this point I have started something and I am going to follow it through. So I drive down the street and bang a right down a side street I have never been before. I park and walk into the shop. In front of me is the receptionists desk with the owners wife(which I did not know at this point) and his daughter. He is standing on the opposite side where I am. Now, I am the poster boy for salesmen at this point as I wear my long black biz coat with black gloves and portfolio under the arm. I pretty much loo
k like I am selling advertising.

With a stink eye they ask if they can help me and I reply that I am looking for the owner. He is pointed out and standing directly to my right now. I explain that I just came from their restaurant and that it was beautiful. (stink eye being magnified to full capacity)

I go on to tell the
m that I paint murals and do decorative painting and ask them if they would mind looking at my portfolio. As2585_1126041149168_1171327636_406438_8134755_n.jpg they flip through my portfolio they start to become interested in what they were seeing and ask questions. This opens the door for me to start conversing and transffering my excitement about what I do. With the contageousness of my excitement I can start to see the wheel spinning in their minds and their excitement increasing. We chat for a while and I ask them if they would mind bringing me over to the restaurant to see if we can add something to it with our artistic flair. (also I dropped the line that most restaurant are rated on how good their murals and decorative painting are)

One of the ideas that they had was creating a giant stone grotto behind the bar.  Coincidentally, we had just started learning and working with vertical concrete and this seemed like the perfect portfolio piece to get started with!  My foreman Mike and I brought in Bruce from Thalman Designs to create a design layer (pic 1) and local decorative painter Holly Whiting jumped in to help.  Not to mention Marco from Massachusetts who we correspond with on which is our online forum for artist to chat and learn from one another.  SO I had my crew together and just needed a product to use.  I called my friends at ProFaux who have come out with a new line called Ecrete (  They hooked me up as only they could and we got started. 
First the house carpenters constructed a base on the wall of plywood and framed out the structure. (pics 2-5).  Once this was complete we covered the surface with metal lathing (pic 5) which costs about a $8.00 a sheet.  When that was complete we had to tackle the task of getting this concrete to continue onto the ceiling without any liabilities but still being built out enough to create a rough surface.  We used foam to put under the lathe on the ceiling area and a ton of screws and washers to hold it to the plywood.  (pics 6-7)
This created our base structure to work with (pic 8).
Mike, Bruce and Holly worked diligently covering the lathe with the Ecrete.  Being sure to wear protective glove as the lathe is pretty sharp stuff.  A scratch coat covered the entire surface.  This was left to dry over night and then a thick coat of Ecrete was applied after we primed the surface with the recommended primer . (pic 9)
With this thick coat applied we waited for it to set a bit and then used our stamps to create the rock like texture needed.  Using a spray bottle we would spray a release agent on the stamps before applying them and removing them.  (see pics 10-11-12)
After letting it dry overnight we were able to start coloring the structure.  Using our colorant in a spray bottle as well we would spray the surface and use a sponge to give a mottling effect.  (see pic 13-15)
Once dry we sealed the concrete and added some other unique features made of concrete like old wood beams and wine caskets.  (16-18)
When finished I think the owner was almost as impressed as we were!  This was a great project to be able to do and has opened our horizons to the world of concrete.  Since then we have sold a few more jobs using concrete and feel that the sky is the limit with what one can create with this vertical product!  Happy troweling!

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