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Concrete Faux Bois Up-cycled Chair

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This project is inspired by the very old art form (over 150 years old) of 'Faux Bois' which means Fake Wood in french. I have been working with concrete in many unique ways rather than the typical 'pour-in-a-mold' ways so this was just perfect to push the limits of concrete work even more, not to mention there is also an up-cycle component!

The details may look very difficult but it's more about the 'vision' than the technique...

Step 1: The Frame:

Picture of The Frame:
Concrete Faux Bois UpCycled Chair - 2.jpg
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I have always marvelled at some of the amazing Faux Bois furniture that has been built by artists. It does however usually involve a welded heavy frame; something that I don’t do (maybe someday!) yet. However I did save a couple iron chair frames that are sturdy and have lovely lines. I knew someday I would figure out a perfect use!

The Materials:
There are many ways to add some structure on the frame to hold the concrete. I chose to use whatever material I had on hand; wire (thick & thin tie-wire) metal mesh, plastic gutter mesh, hardware cloth etc and some filler like pool noodles and styrofoam. Only some basic hand tools like pliers, wire cutter, xacto knife, gloves are needed. I made myself a raised platform (few mild cartons) to be able to work easily as a table would be too tall and the ground too low.

Oh, and did I mention pool noodles too? I had some images of branches in my mind so the round shape would work well. They are hollow in the middle and cut easily to allow placing over the wires. You can even use some pipe-insulation. The rules are pretty lax here as long as you think branches and secure well.

It’s a Wrap!
Wrapping the mesh and filler around the frame was done with the tie wire. Here’s a tip; to give it a sturdy start make a hook that can be anchored into the mesh or styrofoam and then pull tightly.

jeanniel18 days ago
Truly great suggestion to use / cover materials with the concrete! The dry brush method and staining really makes the textures pop! Good job!
I remember seeing this a lot in gardens when I was a kid but never knew how it was made. Thanks a lot for teaching us. Your piece is simply stunning, by the way!
muadibe16 days ago
You have got my vote.That 'throne' is just outstanding, well done.
MadeByBarb (author)  muadibe16 days ago
Much appreciated!!! Although I'm not really thinking it's a throne, who knows?!
KellyCraig17 days ago
This is just WAY cool. Nice, and thanks for the ible.
elbeckham17 days ago
awesome
shylynchair21 days ago
Barb, you definitely have my vote!
How comfortable is it to sit in?/nate
MadeByBarb (author)  shylynchair21 days ago
Thanks! It's not bad. It's heavy though so you'd want to keep it in one spot.
hfartsworth22 days ago
Beautiful work! I love the Big leaves on the ground. I will be giving this a shot. Thanks for the great instructions.
MadeByBarb (author)  hfartsworth22 days ago
Those big leaves may be what started me on this concrete journey maybe 18 years ago! They are easy to make too! I have much 'concrete' on my site. The Stepping stones are here and here.
Dumbphone23 days ago
Your work is amazing to behold! Beautiful chair you have there...Wow.
MadeByBarb (author)  Dumbphone22 days ago
It's a lot of little details but I would think it's an easy project since perfection isn't really that important. Enjoy!

Steinzel22 days ago
This is awesome! I voted for you!
MadeByBarb (author)  Steinzel22 days ago
Thanks so much!
Chimonger23 days ago
Bet one could use concrete colorants, or even paint-powders used for kids’ school projects, and add a bit of glue, like WeldBond (known to improve lifespan of ‘crete, and, helps waterproof it some).
On a different project, I made a mix of Portland + slaked lime+ onsite dirt, mixed with water + WeldBond, as a “plaster” over straw ales, which worked very nicely.
The batches were small-ish, only a 5 gal. bucket at a time. Once done, it was clear that the relatively tiny bit (about 1/4 cup per bucket of mix), was more impervious to rain, yes still breathable. Might use something like that, only without dirt, coating the straw completely, and packing it into a framework to set. Could even use that to make insulated garden buildings.
MadeByBarb (author)  Chimonger23 days ago
You sound like a thinker too! I have added small bits of paint and acrylic to the Rapidset Cementall but reacts instantly and almost coagulates, as it's not as simple as portland cement. Here's to experimenting! Great tips!
TeresaM723 days ago
This looks amazing! Number 1057 on my "To Do In The Garden" list. LOL! But how comfortable is it to sit in? Or is this ornamental only? Either way, great job :)
MadeByBarb (author)  TeresaM723 days ago
It's not too bad to sit it, not soft, but nice round logs there. It could be even flatter seat, but any place that holds water will tend to freeze/thaw in winter.
Holy mackerel! That is absolutely awesome! I have some old and rusty wrought-iron patio chairs that could stand this treatment. Hmmm.....
MadeByBarb (author)  PeeDonkeyPit23 days ago
A good way to imagine is taking a picture of them and then using Photoshop or something similar to see (and draw on) how you can 'rid' the original lines more.
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Brilliant! Good tip!
MadeByBarb (author)  PeeDonkeyPit23 days ago
Thank you
This is just stunning, and you definitely have my vote in the contest! I have a question, though. I don't have any metal frame chairs. Is it possible to use chicken wire over a plastic garden chair for the frame or to construct a frame with pallet wood or say, cattle panels or some other heavy gauge wire fencing materials, or something similar? (sans welding, of course!) One would obviously have to change up the "free form" of the limbs and vines with a differing structure...any suggestions would be appreciated. I'd love to do this!
MadeByBarb (author)  OutofPatience23 days ago
I like to keep the forms out of things that will not get wet and absorb water as then they will expand as they freeze, esp here in our Canadian north. I don't think plastic chairs will hold up. Wire frames could work if they are strong enough for the weight and then get enough concrete to hold their shape. I am hoping to do a similar method for some waterfall that is hollow and light, so will pull out the 'guts' afterward.
doing2much23 days ago
Barb, you are a GENIUS! I have been researching Faux Bois and wanting - no, threatening - to make something like this forever but just did not know where to start. Something as simple as the fact that one needs to start with a pre-welded frame for maximum strength is a secret that eluded me until now... Thanks for getting me one step further to realizing a long-held dream! And you sure got my vote!
MadeByBarb (author)  doing2much23 days ago
HAHA, yes it was the same for me. Now every forlorn piece gets eyed for potential, even maybe a hack with a hacksaw!
satosi23 days ago
This has got to be the most beautiful chair I have ever seen! I'm blown away by your talent in working with this medium! So much detail & natural texture! I've been wanting to incorporate many different methods of shaping & creating a base & textures for my own sculptures, but wasn't sure where to go from my usual route. Your project gives me so many more ideas!

You've just provided me, and many others I'm sure, with a massive amount of inspiration & hope for my own pieces. I've got about 5 on the go, unfinished, which are nagging at me to finish, but I'm having issues getting to a certain point, then becoming stuck.

Thanks so much for such an amazing post! My mouth is still gaping open! I've voted for you, hands down winner!
MadeByBarb (author)  satosi23 days ago
Wow, such kind words! I understand how it gets in the middle of projects! As an artist and painter it sometimes id hard to push through the middle stages as they are not as fresh and exciting as the beginning. It's a typical dilemma I even discuss with some of my students. I do love crossing the borders/fine lines of typical practices to get even more unique.
jvincent123 days ago
This is amazing, great work! My only question is how much does this thing weigh?
MadeByBarb (author)  jvincent123 days ago
I'd say it weighs about 125 -150 lbs. It would be heavier if not for the styrofoam.
anjoze23 days ago
Beautiful!
Mimikry23 days ago
well that chair looks lika a very decorative throne :)
I've got an old single chair in my garden that is falling apart - I now know how to rescue it....
one more planned thing to do - it's already a long list ... but someday :)
thank you for the well written instructions!
MadeByBarb (author)  Mimikry23 days ago
Awesome! Just make sure it can handle the weight. It weighs about 125lbs now! Happy making!
I just love this! It really is amazing :D
MadeByBarb (author)  Penolopy Bulnick24 days ago
It's one of the more forgiving art forms as nature is not so perfect either.
attosa24 days ago
WHOA!!! That is my jaw down there on the floor next to your beautiful chair. You have my vote, bigtime :)
MadeByBarb (author)  attosa24 days ago
Oh, that's very much appreciated! Who knew that all that great time hiking and looking at nature actually sinks in!
sana38324 days ago
Absolutely Stunning!
MadeByBarb (author)  sana38324 days ago
Thanks! Any votes much appreciated!
BigEdB24 days ago
Outstanding Instructable.
Did you know that the Japanese have been using concrete to "fake" wood products for a very long time. I learned the art which is called "Giboku" when I was in Japan in 1980. Some of the forms the Japanese make are fabulous (I.E. Polished wood!!) We used concrete colourant instead of external paints
Again, fantastic job!
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