I would like to hear the tricks of the trade when it comes to carving in the heat of summer. What should a guy do to prevent certain things? Should I cover my work by using some type shade or is it OK that the sun beats on it? I heard someone say to add ice to my water that I mix the mud with? Is that true? I look forward to hearing what every one has to say. I have stated a project that is in the direct sun all day and it is 90-100 degrees this next week.
Dion, that is a brutal condition for vertical. Good luck, especially if it has been dry out. Most mixes will retain the underlying moisture for a decent period of time(if thickness permits) but the surface is the most delicate. Draping plastic as to go certainly helps, although it can be a hindrance for you visually. Light(LIGHT) misting of the surface helps. Light means not to the point of runoff. If you have a surface evaporation retarder, that will also help and will not affect your surface. Getting your carve design in quicker can reduce the surface cracking as well. Each carve cut serves a control joint and reduces the pulling stress on the surface.
I'm sure others will add plenty more here.
Good info from Don.
Ok, so you do all you can to keep the annoying little cracks from happening and you still get a few. I make them look purposeful by carving them. The mix is hard and you gotta dig pretty good to get a cut but I think it looks better than a random unwanted crack. I use a utility knife blade and scrape the wiggly little line a bit straighter and deeper.
I've been working on a waterfall recently and to prevent the cracks I covered the textured rocks with an old bed sheet soonb after texturing. I then misted the sheet with water and covered over that with a piece of poly. It worked great and didn't do anything to the texture.