I did my first carving today on a small practice board.  As I expected (coff, coff), Nathan makes this look a bit easier than it is once you get your hands in it. I understand now what you guys men by finding the best mix/consistency for you to work with.  I used Tru-Pak V with a bag of Sakrete masonry mix (Home Depot...I should've gone to Lowes and gotten the Quikrete...tend to have better results with their products).  I mixed it per the TPV instructions, but once I started putting it up on the wall, it seemed dry, compared to what I saw Nathan putting up on the wall in the "Basics" video.

I forged on, though, and probably put it on a bit thick for my first board (about3")  I had a bit of trouble with smaller tips of stones wanting to fall off when I was doing the clean-out. [note: How long should you let the mix sit between the reliefing and the clean-out?]

After I finished, I noticed that I really didn't take full advantage of the thickness of the product, and wanted to try to get a bit more 3-D on the 2nd board.  Anyway, here are two pics of the first board:

(The pics of the second board will be in another post, as I haven't figured out how to work this format yet)

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As I mentioned, I wanted to try to get more depth on the stones on the 2nd board, but I also wanted to wet the mix down more to make it more pliable.  I did that, but forgot to make it thick, and instead wnated to see how much more coverage I could get by going a little less thick....which hurt me, because I ended up getting to the scratch coat before I wanted to, and had to really work to get the depth effect that I missed on the 1st board....oh, well, live and learn.

I like the results of the 2nd better, as the stones don't look so rounded, and I did get a little more depth effect, but will know to go as thick as #1 next time.

Anyway, give me some pointers if you would....I know you guys can pick up on bad trends and traits better than I can myself.  Thanks!

hello john!! these sample boards are great for first trys! i have to say i also like the second board a bit better for stone shape but remember that is more of a personal preference type of thing. again as you stated the thickness of the 1st board is what you need but you realized that so .... my pointers for you would be on the first board there are some very rounded stone and i mean that in shape not just edges this to is not necessarily bad in its self just that many of the other stones are square /rectangle  so the round ones create kind of a focal point instead of a flowing purposely picked wall of stones that interlock so to speak. as for the second board it is definitely a better more flowing group of stones but the middle large stone has that big round top and creates that focal point again. one more pointer that i know you have heard nathan say on the vids is watch for long running lines/seams you have 2 onthe upper half of the 2nd board it just kinda grabs the eye a bit.

please please please do not take this as me bashing your work.... i am not nor do i mean to sound like i am criticizing your work i am simply trying to explain what i am seeing that will help you crank out top notch work! believe me when i tell you these first attempts are WAY better than my first attempts you should be proud !! i hope this helps!

again all in all great job!


I understand exactly what you're saying, and I appreciate the input.  I see how the stone shapes can be an addition or a deduction based on their consistency.... I will definitely work on that.  I know all of Nathan's rules...especially about the lines, and well, damn.  There are BAD lines through both boards!!  ugh.  The design aspect is tricky....I didn't even notice that until you mentioned it.  Oh, well, that's why I practice.  :D

Thanks for the kind words!

no problem john! yes design can be very tricky but like you said plenty of practice makes perfect and i commend you for asking for others to take a look and give pointers its not always fun to hear what we did wrong but i tell you it really helps you see and correct things before they become habits! cant wait to see lots more!

and i usually wait almost 2 hrs before doing cleanout.

John, sometimes it helps to sketch out your design and stones before hand. You'll catch all the strait lines and 4-ways. It also takes away the on site design frustration, unless you're really good on the fly.
Great point. I will do a lot of that.

I noticed on the 2nd board there are 2 triangle rocks, you really have to watch that. It is tricky but something to keep in mind.  I personally like the 1st board myself. But your definately getting there throw up some more and get at it. Take what everyone says as pointers not criticism it will all help you in the future. I personally still have my first piece i ever did it's by my bathroom,I see it everyday and it lets me know how far I have come. And believe me every time you will get better, just keep throwing and carving. Good luck

Like that first one as well, John.  How many bags did it take per board?  Am really chomping at the bit to try this but, countertops are keeping me busy right now.  Got to pay the bills and pay for supplies, ya know?  Looks good, bro!

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