Ok, so this past week, we traveled a couple hours south to the outskirts of Atlanta to attend a Buddy Rhodes event called “Epic.” What’s Epic? Basically, it’s a three-day gathering of the world’s concrete artisans and makers to collaborate, talk, listen, learn, and push the envelope on what’s possible with concrete. I heard someone describe it as “A smaller specialized Burning Man for concrete enthusiasts”, and from what I experienced that might not be far off. One thing is sure; this creative world of concrete isn’t a boring place.
Pulling into the parking lot at 8am, there are already loads of people present. Most came in rental cars as they traveled from the far corners of the world, some as far as Australia. There are people standing in groups chatting, others already building molds for what I later learn to be concrete boats, yes, concrete boats. After a group orientation, the previous year’s project was demolished in a fitting send off. The concrete ramp of the 2015 Regatta was snapped in half, but not before we bet what weight the ramp would hold before failing.
Normal people would do what they could to keep custom built concrete from breaking; at Epic, we’re more interested in seeing just how strong our creations are before snapping them in half. Everyone enjoyed the wait as a 55 gallon barrel, attached to the ramp slowly filled with water (before we had to add 5 concrete blocks) to break the steel cable reinforced ramp. After seeing a 15 foot unsupported concrete structure take over 500 pounds before breaking, it’s easy to understand how modern concrete can support 2 foot overhangs without failing.
After the explosive opening, part of the group headed to separate corners of Delta Performance Products’ shop to start on their boat molds, while the rest congregated to begin making the largest mold in Epic history. A tree, read again TREE, was sitting waiting for hands to help apply the rubber for a mold. The purpose? To cast a tree in concrete to hold water (and fire) for our cruise of concrete watercraft!
Not all of the time was hands on; we also enjoyed time connecting with industry leaders from all points with no lack of conversation. We bounced ideas off each other and talked about past projects. There were plenty of brews to choose from as we talked up our craft with our closest industry friends. Our conversations went late into the evening before picking up where we left off the next day and day after that.
This is a photo of a single pour table, one of the more ambitious projects being worked on this weekend. The mold itself was a work of art. The top slab was only a ½ inch thick on the edge. It was unknown if the table would even work. With such a large mold, it would be ineffective to vibrate any air pockets out, so the mix had to be thin enough to allow the air to work its way out.
Enjoy some photos that we took over the event.
Filling a 55 gallon barrel with water to find the concrete ramp’s breaking point
Breaking point found
GFRC up close and in action
All hands on deck applying the rubber for the tree mold
All molded up
Concrete casting of our tree and its original together
Our tree filled with water, fire, and boats. Why not?
West Coast team spraying their mold
East Coast team spraying their hinged mold
West Coast team hand packing their mold
East Coast team pouring their table
West Coast team – Finished and assembled tensioned concrete table
East Coast team – Finished single pour concrete table.
Because we can. Why not?