Alex Camacho
Crosby, TX, United States
Born in Houston, Texas and raised all over living the life of an Army Brat. I Went to eight different schools (three elementary, one middle school, four high schools) and have one little brother who’s not so little anymore. I’ve been married for nearly fourteen years now to a woman who rocks my world and I've been blessed with two wonderful children. Our dog, Sally, is a big black lab saved from a local shelter.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Balls!!

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With Lana at Passion Parties Convention 2009 I find that I'm just restless. It happens every time and I have to find ways to keep busy. With a toddler it really isn't too tough but I have to always give myself just a little more work.

I decided it was the perfect time to try my hand at some Ghetto Greenhouses. Thanks MrBrownThumb! I used my bandsaw to cut em in half cause I can, popped the drain holes with my soldering knife, and planted away. Most of the stuff I planted was stuff me and Lana planted already, a few days earlier. Banana Peppers, Chives, Rosemary, Tomatoes, plus some snap peas. I was curious to see if they would sprout faster and didn't want to waste seeds. I can't believe it but it looks like some of them are already breaking through despite having been in their for only a few days! The ones Lana and I planted in the large pan are just now starting to come up even though they were planted earlier. I think we might have too many tomato plants by the time it's all said and done. Or so I'm hoping. I'm quiet skilled at my ability to kill a plant but I'm hoping to change that.

Something else I started to kill time? I cleaned the three car garage and decided to make a few planters. I'm not sure about the huge hypertufa pot I made. I think I did something wrong in my mix since it came out so dark and isn't quite setting up the way I would like. I'll give it few more days. I think it's stuck to the table too despite applying Vaseline to the table top. I'm going to ignore it for now even though it mocks me every time I go in the garage. It's lopsided to boot. If it doesn't pop off the table, I'm going to have fun breaking it to pieces.

The other thing I did was make a sphere planter mold. I saw it done on Gardenweb by the folks there using basketballs and figured I'd take a whack at it.

I decided to use Olivia's ball. She did not approve and was very upset when she noticed me with it.

Sphere Planter Mold

This mold is going to be used to create round fiberglass balls that will be drilled and cut into hanging plant pots. After an issue with using old fiberglass resin and improperly preparing my mold, I had to to make a new one. This one is a two part mold design that will make one half of a sphere. Cast twice and combine to make whole.

(Note: my first mold was a single half mold but was ruined when I used the wrong mold release, then further made worse by using old fiberglass resin that wouldn't cook. Fiberglass has a shelf life of six months and MEKP loses it's catalyst power when exposed to light. Store in a dark container to prolong it's life. All news to me. Now I know better and so do you...)

Things You'll Need

 

  • Buckets
  • Body Filler (Bondo)
  • Bungee Cord
  • Clay (small amount)
  • Plaster
  • Plastic Cups (use thicker cups - cooking resin melts the thin ones badly)
  • Fiberglass Cloth

 

  • Fiberglass Matting
  • Fiberglass Resin
  • Pam Spray (or some other aresol mold release)
  • Rubber Ball (whatever size you want to make)
  • Sand
  • Sand Paper
  • Scissors
  • Vaseline



Step 1

spheremold01The first thing I did was steal Olivia's favorite ball. She tried to take it back a few times but I'm bigger. I used an a large container and filled it with play sand. I leveled it off as much as I could without getting too anal about it, dug a hole in the middle and dropped the ball into it, burying it a little less than half way. To be on the safe side I put the needle hole in the sand in case I needed to release the air to get it out of the mold. I also made sure the mold line going around the ball was not in the sand. I'll use this line as a guide when trimming the fiberglass pieces pulled from this mold.I do think ahead sometimes.

Oh, remember to spray down the ball lightly with a mold release in a can like Pam. I recommend not using Vaseline here only because any lines created with your hands or a brush will be reproduced in the mold. I honestly don't think a mold release is necessary with this type of ball, but I wasn't taking the chance of having a raging toddler on my hands.

Step 2

spheremold02I mixed up a batch of plaster. Remember to add plaster to water, not water to plaster. Otherwise you'll end up with inconsistent results in your plaster strength. When the water will no longer absorb any more plaster and it just sits on top of the water, you're done. Now just mix well. I recommend the best tools nature provided you with, your good ol' mits to break up any clumps. Remember that the warmer the water, the faster the set up time with plaster.

Wait for the plaster to set up some. This is all about timing. It needs to be thick, somewhere between pancake batter and a really thick milkshake. Now grab a handful and start rubbing it onto half the ball carefully. I used a wax pencil to mark a guideline onto the ball. Make sure you have a good layer of it before you begin adding it on thicker. Go thin at first to insure you have no air bubbles and make sure you go all the way to the sand and under the ball as well. Once it's had some time to warm up and cool down, do the next part. Try to make your edge as clean as possible. I removed it and flattened the edge up with a Surform Shaver, then put it back.

Use Vaseline on the entire edge of the first half to prevent the two halves from sticking to each other. Now just do it all over again for the other side.

Step 3

spheremold03The two halves were ready for casting after just a few hours. Keep in mind that they have not fully cured though and are brittle while the cure on the inside. So if you're impatient like me, be careful. I recommend waiting for them to fully cure. I didn't. You've been warned.

The ball popped out pretty easily with a squeeze. Carefully pry the two halves apart to insure they separate. Clean off the ball before returning it to the angry toddler.

Since my mold didn't have a flat bottom, I placed it in a bucket. I wrapped a bungee cord around the two halves, applied some clay to the mold line to make a seamless mold line, and rubbed on a healthy coating of Vaseline on the inside as well as the outside edge. To make the brush strokes/fingerprints/hand streaks disappear, take a heat gun or blow dryer to the Vaseline until it melts and smooths out. Let it cool.

Once you've insured that your fiberglass won't ruin your mold, you can now put down a layer of milkshake to insure a sooth surface.

Once the surface is no longer tacky, you can start laying out your cloth and glass.Once it's cooked long enough to harden up a little, pop it out and do it again! You now have to sphere halves!

Step 4

spheremold04spheremold05Now that the two halves are complete, only thing left to do is join them. I put a small bucket on top of one halve and traced the circle with a pencil. Use whatever size hole makes you happy but make it large enough to fit your hand into with some maneuvering room.

Use a Dremel to cut the circle out, trim the edges of both pieces, and join them together as best as possible. Duct tape is horrible for this. It hates fresh milkshake coated lightly with Vaseline. I used my old Velcro Army boot blousers. Once done, lay some glass around the inside edge and let it cook. Remove whatever it is you used to join the two halves, and Bondo the crack and any surface blemishes. Sand for a smooth finish and your done!!

Now just add a few holes around your edge, paint, and add some rope to hang!! I'll post our finished pictures when I get the last one done and they're all painted. Do ya like my balls? ;)



So there you have it. Go make some balls! Lata!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Springing Back

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With Spring only a day away officially, we decided it was time to get the yard whipped into shape. We got our grass cut before a nasty gram, Lana got our blueberry bushes planted along with our seeds for all our tomatoes and herbs, plus I got most of the dead tree in our yard torn down thanks to a borrowed chain saw. All while I'm sick.

It wasn't too bad really. All this stuff kept me busy and medicated up. I have been putting off uploading my photos though mostly because I just didn't feel up to staring at the computer screen for any length of time unless I had to. Since I edit all my photos in RAW these days it's a bit of a task to sit down and go through over six hundred photos. There's culling out all the crap (LOTS of photos never make it past the first step), correcting white balance sometimes, final touch up in Photoshop (filters and whatnot), then the last step, convert to jpeg for Flickr upload. Like I said, it's something of a task when I get behind.

I had lots of photos to go through too since I had recently gone to Houston Arboretum & Nature Center, the Galveston Oleander Cemetery, and a night out to a Bob Schneider concert at Mucky Duck.

I wasn't very happy with the cemetery photos so I'm just going to make a day of it and reshoot all of em again. Hopefully next time it won't be before a heavy rain and thirty minutes before the gates close. Better planing...

Anyway, I'm feeling really good about Spring this year. Normally it would just mean warmer weather for swimming, some time at the river, time at the parks but now that I'm hoping to help Lana in the yard more it means gardening! I think I finally kicked this damn cold, seeds are planted, our backyard is nearly cleared of the dead tree, and I think working together we're going to have an awesome yard when stuff starts blooming! We've got seed packets scattered all over the house. Some in the kitchen, on the back porch tables, and there's even some planted. It's going to be fun I think. I'm hoping Marcel will get as excited as we are about it. Olivia loves it too since she gets all the mud play time a toddler could ask for.

Well, off to fix some dinner for four kiddos.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Last Push!

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Okay, I thought I'd post about this one more time since it's now down to the last day. Lee's got twenty four hours to get as many votes as possible. So reset your routers and vote from all your computers, vote at work, make your momma vote, log in at the library computers, and vote, vote vote! You see a computer? Vote from it!!

So here we are down to the last mile for one last push...

VOTE 5 STARS and SHARE WITH YOUR FRIENDS!!!