The wild concrete sink in this picture gets a lot of attention. It is very often brought up whenever someone mentions pieces they have seen on our website. This has been a bit of a surprise for me, because I have had a love-hate relationship with this concrete creation. Here’s how it started. I had just renovated my bathroom. It was tiled, painted, and pretty much finished—except for the sink. Now, when you’re in the custom concrete business, you can’t exactly go out and buy a standard sink and keep your reputation! This called for a custom job. I was excited for the project not only because I love the craft, but also because my wife was part of the process. On a Saturday we constructed the mold, and the following weekend we started casting. I was a little overconfident. I whipped up four batches of stiff concrete in blue, pink, black, and green and presented them to my wife. She was skeptical about the color combo, to say the least. But I said, “Don’t worry. It’ll look great!” When it came time to demold the sink I was so excited to get working on my masterpiece. But when I popped the piece from the mold, the colors looked hideous. My wife was right… Lucky for me, my mother is a watercolor artist and consequently pretty good with colors. I consulted with her and made some changes but nothing I did seemed to make it look better. Over the course of several weeks I tried almost every technique I could think of to modify the color composition. Color modification with concrete is quite different than painting. You use stains and acids that are much harder to control. After a lot of experimenting, the piece began to transform, and it became more and more interesting.
The first wild sink from de-mold to color modification:
Given all the time I spent pouring over the sink and making small changes, I wasn’t quite sure if it was done…but I had to stop. Working on it became a rabbit hole. When I presented the piece to my wife I wasn’t sure what to expect. She loved it. When we installed, it matched the bathroom perfectly. Now people who come to my house rave about the sink. As for me, I like how things ultimately turned out, but I cannot look at the sink without thinking about all the time it took to make. One day, about year after finishing that project, I got a phone call from someone who saw the sink on our website and loved how it looks. She wanted me to make a similar sink and vanity top for her. Even with the challenges of the original, I was eager to work on this project. I had learned a lot from the first one. So my immediate thought was to skip the unsightly beginning and make the new sink look as finished as possible right out of the mold. Then I realized that it was the process, and all those layers of treatment my sink had gone through, that made it interesting. So the only thing to do was make the same hideous colors from the start. I composed those same stiff batches and packed them into the mold. Again, fast-forward to demold time and BAM, I’ve created a piece only a father could love. Then began the work to recreate much of the tweaking steps, but with a bit more efficiency this time. After all the experimenting on the first sink I have a pretty good sense of which processes are important and which are not. One of the most important steps is to dissolve the surface of the concrete with acid to expose sand grains and provide a space for a new cement slurry to take hold. After setting, the slurry is then sanded and leveled with the tops of the grains. Here is the magic part: the hardened slurry layer can be acid stained with new colors, but it remains partly translucent, so that the original concrete colors are still visible from below. All in all, it was a long process—a classic blood, sweat, and tears affair. That’s much of what we do. There’s a lot of work and love in each piece we make. It’s custom. It’s unique. It’s concrete!