Sunday, March 19, 2023

The Artist and the Engineer Find a Solution

It has been almost a year since we moved into our new home. Most everything was done at that time by Rainbow Valley Design and Construction, with a few small projects left for Mike and me to do. One of those projects had us thinking for all the next eleven months to come up with a good solution. 

The walkway leading to the studio from the house had need of a permanent bridge to go over the small creek we created during the rebuild of our new home. For the last eleven months we walked over these 2 by 6 inch boards which took a bit of carefulness to go the 51 inches from one cement walkway to the other.

What to do? So many ideas along the way, but none seemed just right. 

And then one day Mike threw out the idea of making cement planks. As an engineer, he had figured out how to make the two planks strong enough using rebar and metal mesh inside the cement.

And the the artist (me) said okay, but plain cement is, well, plain. 
Let's color the cement and figure out way to decorate the slabs.

Before you could say Jack Robinson, Mike showed up with bags of cement, cement dye, rebar and mesh. For me he included a bucket full of shiny black rocks.

After Mike built the forms (measuring twice, thrice, and once by me for a backup) we began a day of cement mixing, smoothing and decorating.

We borrowed a cement mixer from our local Blue River Tool Library (thank you, Antony). Mixing one bag after another, we dumped 900 pounds of dyed cement into the perfectly sized forms.

As one side settled, the second plank was poured.

 Mike smoothed the cement and I started placing and pushing in the decorative smooth black rocks.

Then there was the wait period, letting the cement strengthen for almost 4 weeks. Just before moving the 2 planks into place, they were sealed with a product designed to protect and add gloss to the cement.

But how in the heck do you move 900 pounds of cement the distance of a football field? No where was there room for a vehicle, so . . .

Remember that the Pyramids and the Great Wall were built by human labor!

Our granddaughter, Angelica called some young strong friends. Mike used straps with handles to create 3 spots on each side for a total of 6 carriers. With 4 young (stronger) people, Mike and me, we miraculously  managed to move not one, but two 450 pound slabs across the not quite flat terrain of our property.

The second miracle was that they fit like a glove.

We celebrated with a chili feed!