Reactive Stain on Concrete

Additional dye strata. This worker is flashing with orange-brown dye to create two hard torn-paper edges.
Additional dye strata. This worker is flashing with orange-brown dye to create two hard torn-paper edges.

Day 2
Stain and dye concrete
Spray-flash orange-brown acid stain (such as Colormaker’s Amber) along torn paper edges. Tear paper in 2-foot to 4-foot lengths for ease of handling. Sometimes flash along a single edge and then ease out. Sometimes flash along a double edge for more defined strata. Step inside or outside the paper, or move to a new location and reflash with a purple brown stain (such as Colormaker’s Ebony). Consistently spray the entire floor with a first coat of purple-brown acid stain.

Sporadically apply Ironite lawn fertilizer. This produces interesting rusty spots and is graphically similar to the sporadic negative “wormholes” in natural travertine.

Spray the entire floor with a second coat of orange-brown acid stain. Apply less, then more of this to increase color variability. This second coat will encourage additional “melting” of the fertilizer granules. When the surface is dry, or mostly dry, repeat stain flashing with torn paper edges. The first round of flashing and the second will be either visually softer or crisper, depending upon their order. Respray the entire floor with water, if required, to encourage additional “melting” or a looser, more watery graphic. When dry, or mostly dry, thoroughly rinse using a hose with a trigger nozzle, a 17-inch floor polisher with a soft brush, a double-bladed neoprene squeegee and a wet vacuum. Go home, enjoy a good meal, a glass or two of wine and a good night’s sleep. You’ll have earned it!

Ironite granules melt and deposit color as acid stain is applied.
Ironite granules melt and deposit color as acid stain is applied.

Return the next day, when all is dry, and repeat the process, less the spotting, wetting and rinsing parts, replacing stains with dyes (such as Colormaker’s Deso Dyes in combinations that produce orange and purple browns), diluted in either water or acetone. If using acetone, pay particular attention to proper ventilation (acetone is not only flammable, but explosive) and to potential softening and bursting of sprayer hoses. These dyes contribute to interesting controlled spot variegation with overall better field consistency.

The idea here is to create layers of serendipitous variegation that combine to produce a consistent, rich fabric. Tight craze cracking and screening to accent troweled highs and lows were the original concrete components of this layered fabric.

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