19 April 2010

Set in Stone

Digitized photos printed on laminate and metal surfaces aren't new, but images integral to concrete? That's a very different—and fascinating—story. Customized aggregate blends and special pouring and curing processes yield these permanent pictures. heringinternational.com

6 comments:

  1. i would really like to see this in person, for it could be a bit of smoke and mirrors, or it could be one of the great advancements in the long historical process of integrating the building arts with what is often called the studio arts—painting and sculpture.
    then there is the age old question that never seems to be raised in these days of plasticized architecture: how will this medium age?

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  2. I would imagine that if used in an interior setting, it would age quite gracefully. Outdoors, exposed to sun and water and perhaps thermal extremes, would be more of a test, of course. The finished product does seem to have some break in the texture where the color changes. I'd say this is a question for the experts at concrete.org

    Thanks for your comments, Anonymous.

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  3. This IS an amazing technological achievement in architectural concrete. There are several companies that are working with this process as of late - it seems there are several approaches to creating this photographic effect. Sandblasting has been around for quite awhile. Another is an etching method, removing selected areas of the cured surface, very similar to fine art printmaking. Another very recent innovation uses special chemicals applied to the form in a pattern or image before pouring the wet concrete into the mold. These chemical treatments are called surface retarders, with carefully controlled rates of effectiveness; when the fresh concrete is released from mold after initial hardening, these retarders are rinsed from the relatively soft surface, taking with them shallow areas of the concrete surface and leaving behind a bas-relief texture. This technique has been around a long time (think commercial gravel-faced wall cladding), but the ability to micro-control placement and depth of efficacy to produce images of this resolution is very recent.
    The long-term durability of this treatment is probably very good. It is not a digitally printed surface image, as is seen with many new ceramic faux tiles. It is an actual sculptural (albeit shallow) texture; as with anything exposed to the elements, there will be eventual erosion in the very long term - probably similar to a sandstone or limestone.

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  4. Thank you very much for sharing your expertise on this subject, Rich Holschuh.

    KBCULTURE readers are a pretty sharp lot, if I do say so!

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  5. Leslie
    Thank you for spreading the word about photo engraved concrete.
    I would welcome you to visit my website at PhotoCrete USA to view examples of photo engraved concrete we have produced for projects in the US.
    We developed our system about 8 years ago and after being in architectural concrete for 30 years I still believe it is the coolest thing I have seen in concrete yet.
    Feel free to call if you have any questions about the process.
    Larry Vines
    PhotoCrete USA

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  6. I appreciate your calling out PhotoCrete, Larry Vines. You're right—it's a great technique.

    Thank you for reading and taking time to comment!

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