From three weeks to three years… a paving story

Elaine Schaefer Hudson

 

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You’ve probably seen the concrete forms that make cobblestones – well, not really make, ‘coz that’s your job but the forms help you to shape the cobbles. We saw the idea and liked it. I also wanted to build a nice patio in our new home. Being the ‘arty’ type, the idea of a cobbled patio really appealed. We discussed it and figured that we could do it in three hard weekends. Three summer seasons later, we finished!
“Coming Along” approaching the Mulberry tree. You can see the “fresh” stones in the upper corner…the wet cement looks darker.  The board is used to level the sand one more time, since we have assistance from cats, squirrels, skunks and who knows what. They all seem to love clean, smoothed sand.
“Sanding the Stones”    We discovered something called Sandlock from a company called Pavetech. (basically ground psyllium seed, I believe) It’s used to stabilize bricks and stones. Our application wasn’t exactly what it was designed for, but it worked very well the first year. The downside is that ants can chew through almost everything, and dragged weed seeds UNDER the pavers, and so now we pull lots of baby weeds (and maybe mulberry starts from the fruit of the tree).   We also tried some brick stabilizer from the local big box store, but it was a chemical stabilizer.  Works ok, but not organic.  Still have weeds after a season.  Also have to re-sand. Squirrels and chickens….
“Nearing the End”  Past the tree, and now it’s going faster since the width is narrowing. Whoo hooo!
“The Forms”  We built a pair of casting tables to make it easier on our backs.  Working directly on the ground was killing me, and by having the heavy stuff waist high, we could do more than just two bags of cement in a session. Discovered we could fit both of the forms side by side on one table, then after filling them and working the mix, could pull them and do another set or so.   Three bags of ready mix made about 3 3/4 fill of the forms.  Since our shape was not a perfect straight shape, we used the extra ones to fill in around the edges.  This also made it easier to sprinkle the cement color on top to vary the colors.
“Close Cobbles”.   This shows the variation in color we wanted. We used three different hues to vary the colors. One color would be used to put into the wet cement mix, and then when the cobbles were in the form, we would use all three on the cobbles them selves. There are nine in the form, so three yellow, three red and three brown.  As an artist, it was fun to do.

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