How do I make a Hypertufa Totem?

stella1952January 1, 2013

QUESTION I want to make a bead totem, really badly. I'm also not sure if the mixture needs to be more pourable than packable. I was going to do the sand casting method. Could I use a quickcrete mixture recipe?

ANSWERS Here are two "recipes" used by members


1 part Portland cement

2 parts perlite

2 parts play sand

a handful of fibers (fiber mesh)


1 part Portland cement

1 part sand

2 parts peat moss


Since the beads I made were cast in molds, I made the hypertufa mix wetter than usual, somewhere between pourable and packable.

Quikrete sand topping mix should work for making beads. Your beads will just be heavier than ones made of lightweight concrete or hypertufa. I say give it a try.


The Quikrete 'tufa recipe should work fine. And, as small as most beads are, even using Quikrete sand topping mix straight should give you beads that aren't too heavy to handle. I think you'll like the texture of 'tufa beads better though.


In sand casting make sure your sand is nice and wet so it doesn't pull out to much of the water in the tufa mix.

Mixing the cement

· 1 part portland cement

· 2 parts Perlite

· 2 parts play Sand

· Fiber mesh

· Color

Molding the Beads

· wet the sand ~ using spray bottle of water

· mold in sand using ball, bottle or anything you want

· press beads gently into side of sand mold

· use finger to poke for a dot or make a swirly in sand - anything you want to have protrude on the completed bead

· coupling in base, cap in finial and 1 rod for height

Let Bead sit for at least 20 hours

Un-Molding the Beads

· gently lift bead from mold

· remove excess sand

· rinse in bucket of water

· use rasp to file edges smooth and any other flaws

· sculpt anything you want at this time

· rinse and set aside to dry

Painting the Beads

· oxide/portland cement and water

· techniques vary

1. paint

2. paint and spray for mottled look

3. Dry Brush

4. Imagination



Are the tubes coated with anything special before putting them in the center and when did you pull them out? Someone said she "cut" the hole out after a couple hours, but her molds were solid and I don't know that cutting would work in sand.

How thick was your mixture? It looks as if some of them have been molded on the top with a form; Is that all freehand?

Do embellishments really stick or primarily just make an impression to be glued in place later? I'd probably want to stick shells, marbles, etc.

Do they need to be cured or just left to dry? I haven't done 'tufa yet and there is the whole spraying and wrapping aspect, or is that mainly for planters?

Do you...

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