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Posted: 07 Aug 2007
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Hypertufa Garden Art--Mouth of Truth
Posted: 10 Jul 2007
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Posted: 09 Jul 2007

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Hypertufa Garden Art--Mouth of Truth

Category: Garden Projects | Posted: Tue Jul 10, 2007 5:17 pm

First I was inspired by Bethie to make hypertufa heads, with which I have really enjoyed experimenting. Then I saw the movie Pan's Labyrinth and I got inspired from the spooky statues.

One made me think of the large face from the movie "Roman Holiday", the Bocca Della Verita, Mouth of Truth. Do you remember it? Gregory Peck pretends it has bitten off his fingers?

The actual face is huge! It's over 5 ft in diameter!

I decided to make my own smaller one using one of my favorite new (to me) medium, hypertufa.

The hypertufa mixture I use is a little different, I ran out of peat so I decided to try and make it without. I use 1 part vermiculite to 1 part portland cement. I add enough water to make a clay like mixture.

First you need a mold and I've found that the oil drip pans you can get at the auto stores work great (also nice for a birdbath).

I've sprayed mine with nonstick cooking a cake pan.

Next you place your hypertufa mixture...patting each layer solidly down. Until you get the thickness you want. I'd say at least 2 inches thick.

Push in two eye screws into the setting hypertufa

so you can create a wire hanger later. You can do whatever you want here...even make a wire hanger stuck into the hypertufa.

Now you should let your hypertufa dry for at least 5 hours. It can dry more, but it might be a bit harder to carve, but will be less likely to break.

You turn out your hypertufa circle and this is what you will have:

You will need to have a sketch or print out of the actual Bocca Della Verita to help guide you.

Scratch out where you want his eyes, mouth and features. Use a knife and create eye holes and a squareish mouth hole.

Mix up a small amount of hypertufa and start to add a forehead, cheeks, nose, and build the hair and beard up a bit.

Allow to dry for a few hours and then go back and fine tune the features.

As he dries he will get lighter and lighter because the vermiculite weighs next to nothing.

Run a piece of wire between the eye screws to make a hanger.

Hang on a fence or wall! This one really freaks out the kids!

You could really create any kind of face this way. It was so easy that I really wanted to share. I can't wait to hang him on my back fence!

Last edited: Tue Jul 10, 2007 6:39 pm

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toni wrote on Tue Jul 10, 2007 5:45 pm:

Wow, thanks for giving us such good directions.
Yes I have seen that movie, that's is what I thought of when you first mentioned Mouth of Truth.


glendann wrote on Tue Jul 10, 2007 6:50 pm:

You dida great job.I could not do that.


hummingbird3172 wrote on Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:00 pm:

Thanks Toni and Glenda!

Glendann, of COURSE you could do it. It really was easier than I expected. It helps to find a very primitive piece of art to copy. Notice I did NOT use a Michaelangelo? ;-)


Chitweed wrote on Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:12 pm:

Very nice!
It looks like you could make one into a bird feeder for the birds eat out of his mouth, or a fountain for a the water to pour out of the mouth.
One more post like this and you will have me convinced to make one.


hummingbird3172 wrote on Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:15 pm:

I think it would look incredible as a fountain. I'm thinking about fountian ideas but I'll have to get the solar powered pumps if I do it, so that's slowed me down a little. It is hard to look at that gaping mouth and not see a fountain isn't it? LOL


bethie wrote on Tue Jul 10, 2007 8:51 pm:

He WOULD make a great fountain or anything else. Hypertufa rules! It's a shame we can't all get together and have a hypertufa workshop. Think of all the fun and inspiration! Wonderful piece of originality!


Frank wrote on Tue Jul 10, 2007 9:09 pm:

I remember that famous scene in Roman Holiday, the face creeped me out ever since :) This is astoundingly crafty work HB. Thank you so much for the detailed directions, it really does make all the difference to pass on the knowledge to others.

All I can do is sit here and wonder what will you come up with next!

P.S Pan's Labyrinth was great.


hummingbird3172 wrote on Tue Jul 10, 2007 9:23 pm:

Thank you Bethie and Frank. Well, I wish I was totally original, it's kind of a cheap reproduction...a poor man's ancient art. I've also been making some hypertufa monoliths and carving them with celtic type designs. I really love ancient carvings and sculpture. It looks at home in the garden.

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