Comments from students who attended previous FC courses:
I just wanted to thank you for putting together the laminated fc workshop and the
class on fc sinks and counter-tops last year. After years of experimenting, reading,
and yapping about fc, these classes really put the learning curve ahead for me. Now
I am in the midst of starting a business in decorative ferrocement like garden
furniture, outrageous planters, garden art, counter-tops, etc., that revolves around
the information garnered from the Ferrocement Network's classes. I'm betting that
those classes turn out to be the most valuable investment that I've ever made.
Thanks again, Chris Glasspool
After participating in last summer’s FC courses organized by Paul, I’d intended to contribute some heartfelt comments to this list about my experience. It occurred to me this list undoubtedly includes many readers, in addition to the regular contributors, who, while intrigued by the possibilities of Fc, are finding it difficult to commit to building their skills meaningfully toward progressively more complex projects.
It was about a year ago that Paul announced the laminated FC and the sinks & countertops courses. Instinctively, I realized there was no way in hallabutz my good wife would allow me anywhere near the kitchen or bathroom with live mortar in the bucket, so I was to be a laminated man from the get-go. This actually coincided with my interests, as most of my FC projects have been destined for the landscape (not the landfill! I mean retaining walls, garden steps, small utility enclosures and such). Colorado being the course location, however, and being a relatively long way from Illinois, it seemed best to grab all the Fc expertise available on the one trip. So I signed up for both courses, which proved a smart decision on several accounts.
Most relevantly, the content of the courses were so complimentary, I could almost believe Paul had intended it that way. The laminated course was of course principally about building for structure, while the sinks & countertops course was all about treating surfaces (color, texture, etc). I’m not speaking authoritatively for anyone other than myself, but from this perspective, I came away from Montrose with a significantly elevated confidence over how I could approach an extensive variety of future projects, as well as how to shore up my ongoing bridge project.
In addition, the instructors, Colin & Rob, presented complimentary approaches to their work, which was instructive in itself. The basic idea of Colin’s technique is not overly complicated. The materials he applied were few and his procedures methodical. He stressed planning and preparation with a well-proven technique. That’s a tremendous confidence booster for anyone who has searched through and tentatively tried some of the many, often conflicting FC techniques advanced on the net, in articles and books. How many of us have the time and patience to proceed with scientific rigor, testing and taking detailed notes of slight variations in mixes and procedures? Individuals demo their successes freely throughout the net, often with more photo’s then info, seldom documenting their failures. But what specifically do I need to do to succeed beyond the point of publishing a series of pretty pictures? It’s a serious question for people with serious concerns and Colin offers a solid answer to it. He provides the technique; we go home and practice and adapt it to our needs. It’s not the only way, but it’s one with a history of success to lean on.
Rob, on the other hand, drove up like a gypsy hauling a trailer loaded up and down with equipment and materials, most of which he spiritedly employed mixing and matching for all manner of effects. He showed us how to get a feel for their properties and their suitability for a variety of requirements, and provided guidance to our efforts in learning to ‘dance’ with them.
Both of them responded eagerly to questions and suggestions that came from all over and throughout the spectrums of interests and understanding. For me, that’s where the heart of these courses could best be found. I’m sure my experience in some ways differed significantly from what others took away. Once or twice I’ve read on the FC listserv comments Chris Glasspool made about some item or another he took away from either of the courses and I thought, “O yeah? And where was I?” Well it happens, he possesses a much deeper understanding of some of these issues, and may have interpreted some comments more broadly or pursued the subject altogether within a smaller group that formed to temporarily work on a separate aspect of one of the projects. In both courses, smaller groups often formed and merged back together into one and then formed again into different configurations as circumstances and happenstance allowed. A comfortable fluidity in the comings and goings encouraged anyone to join any snatch of interesting conversation overheard, either lending a hand to, or simply observing, the work that triggered it. Incidentally, I found Chris was as much a revelation with his hands in mud as he is in print. And that, I think, represents one of the most striking aspects of these courses. Among the participants in each of the courses a wide range of experience and knowledge served to enrich both their spirit and content. The wide variety of intentions people brought with them from architectural design or utilitarian construction to artistic expression tended to open up possibilities for everyone, rather than compete for precedence.
These courses really are hands-on and best serve those with ideas of what they mean to do and questions about how to accomplish them. I won’t deny I found them to be both instructive and fun, but only because in my own private and mostly modest way, I’ve set myself up for some serious construction and the courses built on my understanding of how to employ FC as a means to accomplish much of this. Anyway, the whole point of this ramble was to suggest to those gripped by the possibilities, though not committed, or bowled over by abstractions from some of the more abstruse debates, these courses offered by Paul are an excellent remedy for doubt and a valuable opportunity to determine whether, or how, FC can be an appropriate technology for you to sink your hands into.