History and Material Investigation of Rustic Ferrocement Sculptures
Throughout the 20th century, the style disseminates throughout the US, with the contribution of several different artisans, generally immigrants. The forms became more complicated and detailed, creating intricate rustic landscape elements using a cement mortar. Structures include bridges, arches, ruins, benches and grottos seen in numerous landscape contexts, such as cemeteries, parks and estates. Although this folk tradition has been recognized in preservation circles, it is rarely recognized as notable in the study of material science.
With the help of conservators, I extracted several samples from three different sites (Michigan, Texas and California) in order to get a range of materials and systems used by artisans. By studying various examples with petrographers, using petrographic analysis and XRF analysis my intention was to reveal what the cementicious mix was, in order to inform its proper terminolgy. Although it is most likely a mortar, even specialists in the field argued about its proper terminolgy. Is it concrete? Cast? 3-d stucco? In fact, the findings vary from each location vary, hence "rustic ferrocement sculpture" to encapsulate each sample.