Monday, July 29, 2013

No Way In H%@# Martha Made These

There is no way in hell Martha Stewart made these:

My friend Phoebe and I had seen an article in Martha Stewart Living the year before about how to make these beautiful concrete hypertufa pots.  What a great idea, we thought, and it looks so easy!
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ha!
Boy, were we in for a surprise.  I always crack up at the pictures of Martha in that magazine, and yes I have a subscription. She and I have a love/hate relationship.  That brilliant little bitch sure knows how to come up with some amazing ideas, and she is probably the best in the biz when it comes to marketing and branding yourself.  But, do you honestly think she has participated in every project that she is pictured doing?  I believe she participated in posing for that project, but partaking is completely different.

In case you are wondering if we followed the instructions correctly, we did.  To the "t".  Here they are in case you dare to defy our "Martha Fail" and prove us wrong.  Don't say we didn't warn you.

The Martha Stewart Show, January 2010
Make beautiful garden containers that will last for years with this wonderful hypertufa technique. The term "hypertufa" refers to a type of artificial stone, and is a conglomerate of the words "tufa," a natural volcanic rock, and "hyper," a prefix meaning excessively or extremely; hypertufa are extremely rock-like containers.
You can use almost anything that has an interesting shape for a mold, such as an old tub, bin, or nursery pot. Keep in mind that this mixture is an approximation, and not an exact science -- you can play around with the measurements.
This recipe will make really light pots; if you want heavier, sturdier pots, simply add more cement to the mixture.
  • Rubber gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Perlite
  • Peat moss
  • Portland cement
  • Cement pigment (optional)
  • Acrylic fibers (if making larger-size pot)
  • Plastic tub
  • Water
  • Spray cooking oil
  • Mold (Martha used a nursery pot)
  • Small wooden dowel (optional)
  • Plastic bags
  • Wire brush or sandpaper
  • Buttermilk (optional)
HYPERTUFA POTS HOW-TO1. Wearing rubber gloves and a dust mask to avoid breathing cement dust, mix 3 parts perlite, 3 parts peat moss, and 2 parts Portland cement in a plastic tub. If desired, add cement pigment for color. If making a large pot, add acrylic fibers for strength.
2. Add water to tub, a bit at a time, until the mixture has the consistency of moist cottage cheese.
3. Spray inside of mold with cooking oil. Push a handful of wet hypertufa mixture firmly against the bottom of the mold. Repeat until you have made a bottom base that is approximately 1 inch thick. Push handfuls of wet hypertufa mixture firmly against the sides of container approximately 3/4 inches in thickness. Continue until rim of mold is reached. Press bottom and sides firmly to remove air pockets.
4. Create drainage hole by pushing finger or small dowell through the bottom of mold so that it penetrates the hypertufa mixture.
5. Cover with plastic bag, let dry for about 48 hours.
6. Take off plastic bag and remove pot from mold (pot with be slightly wet). Using a wire brush or sandpaper sponge, rough up the surface of the hypertufa for a more rustic appearance. Let sit for 2 to 3 weeks to dry completely.
7. If desired, coat pot with buttermilk and moss; the moss will grow around the pot.

This concrete bag is rediculously heavy.  Thanks to Jesse for saving our backs on that one.

 Here are the molds we chose:

 Talk about doing things right, of course we had a Blueberry Thyme Collins to ease the work load a little bit while covering our baskets in duct tape.

 We did everything very precisely, we measured and mixed and poured exactly according to instruction.

 Lily was an excellent assistant.
The mixing was the absolute worst part.  It was heavy and tiresome.  We had to keep switching off because our arms got so tired.  This project was way more labor intensive than we had anticipated.

 Despite all of our good efforts and precision, our pots didn't make it.  The instructions stated to let them dry for 48 hours before handling, it was weeks before they were dry enough to handle.  And by the time we were able to handle them, they had cracked and broken apart.  I didn't even get a good picture of what they looked like.  So if you see an idea like this and think it might be fun, be ready to sweat, lift, and cuss.  Was it worth it?  I'd personally rather purchase a nice pot than go through that again.

The pots did not survive, but we made it through! Now we are spreading the word about this "easy" Martha project, hoping to perhaps spare even one poor soul who might dare think of attempting this concrete/pete moss monstrosity.

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  1. I'm so glad you spoke up! I had this exact project pinned. Thank you!

  2. You are a brave woman to even attempt something like that. I don't try her projects.I would like to try the garden stepping stones I have seen as a DIY but making pots is a bit too much for me. Good for you to try it, fail, and live to tell the tale!


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