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Art Made Concrete - Creativity

One necessary component of creativity is resistance. It is the impetus, the signal to make or not make art. Great resistance can shut a good idea down, too much resistance causes stress and eventual disintegration of your energy, and tolerable resistance creates strength to overcome obstacles. Creativity becomes an option because there are obstacles.

The creative artist, as in a meditation, enters the unconscious state to lift what is there to awareness, an inspiration, a solution to a problem, the need to fill a vacuum. The practice is not without risk. Brought to mind, that surfaced idea causes an awakening shock you will meet with your own resistance. When the significance of that idea takes hold your enthusiasm drives you forward to create. Ah, hah! moments are usually accompanied with laughter. If you feel a chill consider this a sign as the right direction to take.

Creativity requires determined force to use your stress or tension to lure an idea into the real world. I know how stress impacts me when I'm finished. Was the pain worth it? I prefer tension for I feel a good kind of tired the next morning. I may ache a bit, but when I've seen what I've done I'm invigorated.

Look to your enthusiasm, respect the shock your work will have on others, and don't create anything less than something reflecting truth or beauty, or something unimaginably better.


Nest – Redwood roots, balloon, eggshells as molds– 7 x 9 inches – ferrous sulfate stain, 22k gold leaf

This Year's Birdhouse - 14 x 14 x 10 inches - concrete veneer of flowering kale over pine branches adhered to plywood box

Table of Contents


Full color, FREE fourteen page opening and introduction to:

The CONCRETE Gourmet's Cookbook - Solid Recipes, the first of four books by James Maxwell is a hands-on, how-to, twelve-chapter, full-color recipe book with projects using cement/concrete as a fine art material. Each chapter provides clear instructions on how to use the recipes in projects ranging from ancient-looking garden planters, faux stone paths, and sculpture mixes to stylish containers and innovative food-safe dinnerware. Photo-illustrated, the procedures are shown in progress and as the finished project's applied use indoors, in the garden, or art gallery.

Includes Maxwell's Recipe for a concrete with mud planter and step by step instructions how to make one using a cardboard carton as a form.

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Mud Planter Mud planter with moss

The Gourmet's Concrete Cookbook

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Chapter 1

Recipes for Liquid Mixture – with photographs of work.

A good space to work | The tools you need | Storage containers | Hints to relate preparing food to mixing concrete | Using small batches | Measuring by volume | Water with bonding agents affect the quality of concrete, and slow the curing time | Photos of working with related tools and materials | Recipe #1 – The Liquid Mixture with Bonding Agent | Choosing aggregates in relation to the size and the purpose of various projects | The handiness of plastic food wrap.


Please allow for a three to five day processing time. You will receive a conformation of purchase along with Chapter 1 as an attachment. Save this PDF. The body of the e-mail will contain the passwords necessary to open view, and print out the content of this 2.7 MB PDF



Newly Edited
Nasturiam Jar
Jar seven inches tall for cooking tools

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Chapter 2

Recipe for Fossil-like Concrete Stepping Stones – with photographs of work.

A note about the language of earth | Planning a path | What you need to proceed with this project | Preparing the dry mixtures and storing them before beginning the process. | The wise move to embed steel wire and why | Recipe #2 – Concrete Stepping Stone Mixture | Setting up the work space to accommodate and prepare the mold to receive the wet concrete | The choice of leaves to make fossil records | Step by step procedure to do and finish the work | Listing of finishing sealers and their uses.


Please allow for a three to five day processing time. You will receive a conformation of purchase along with Chapter 2 as an attachment. Save this PDF. The body of the e-mail will contain the passwords necessary to open view, and print out the content of this 3.3 MB PDF




NOW AVAILABLEFossil-like Stepping Stone
Eighteen inch stepping stone

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Chapter 1 & Chapter 2
Now available for purchase together

Please allow for a three to five day processing time. You will receive a conformation of purchase along with Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 as attachments. Save these PDFs. The body of the e-mail will contain the passwords necessary to open view, and print out the content of both PDFs.



Chapter 1 & Chapter 2
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Chapter 3

Recipe for an Organic Interlocking Path – with photographs of work in process.

What you need to proceed creating this type of path | Using a premixed concrete and mixing it properly | Recipe #3 – Using a premixed concrete/aggregate mixture for The Interlocking Path | Your team of helpers | Filling plastic garbage bags and plastic shopping bags with wet concrete as retaining molds for this interlocking path | How to place the bags to interlock | Allowing spaces for ground cover to exist and not effect the stability of your path | Placing rocks and design elements.



Path to visit the dog's final resting place.
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Chapter 4

Recipes for Tiles, and Fine Print Making – with photographs of work.

What you need to proceed. | Recipe #4 – Recipe for tiles, prints, fine details | The type of sand needed for this recipe, mixing the consistency of toothpaste | Preparation to make tiles, table tops | Steel mesh, embedding | Fine Print Making on concrete in reverse | How to prepare your concrete surface to receive a bonding veneer, and how to apply it.



Peeling geranium leaves from concrete print
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Chapter 5

Recipes for Sculpture Mixtures – with photographs of work.

What you need in preparation for concrete sculptures. | Tools | Scheduling working time by the window of receptivity concrete has in curing | Recipe #5 – Sculpture mixes | Using peat moss, pearlier, mud, and vermiculite | Application over rebar, aviary wire armatures | Carving a day old block of concrete | Coloring sealers, and indoor and outdoor sealers | Making bases for your sculptures.



The Olmax Head - sculpture mix #1
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Chapter 6

Recipe for Stucco structures, Making Your Garden’s Worm Bunker – with photographs of work.

What you need | Planning the structure to fit the garden space with your worm's need in mind | Using sheets of building insulation as the inner structure | Thinking ahead to create feet and lid before concrete is mixed |Using garden fencing to embed superstructure, aviary wire as additional support | Recipe #6 – Stucco ready to plaster.


Worm Bunker
The Worm Bunker - to compost food scraps
Recipe for stucco structures
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Chapter 7

Recipes for Preparing Surfaces to Attach Veneers – with photographs of work.

What you need | Tools | Recipe #7 – Bonding Agent as glue and the volume with liquid for making a veneer mixture | Working on an existing form | Applying aviary wire to bond form to veneer.



Bird House - fundraiser for Botanical Garden
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Chapter 8

Recipes for Birdbaths, Wet and Dry Fonts, and Garden Sinks – with photographs of work.

What you need | Recipe #8 – Concrete mixture that can retain and store water | Looking for the right size form to fill the function of a basin | Making forms from scratch | Preparing your forms for drain and plumbing | Using pre cast concrete for sink bases.



COMING SOONFree standing sink
Geranium leaves in freestanding garden sink
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Chapter 9

Recipes for when a Vase is a Vase – with photographs of works.

What you need | Recipe #9 – Mixture for a thin, more plastic than brittle, strong concrete receptive to veneers | How to make use of carpet tubes | Commercial building tubes for foundation columns | Plastic rain gutters | Concrete building forms | How to seal the inside of a porous vase to hold water | Turning a planter into a vase and vase versa.



Fluted columns as vases or planters
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Chapter 10

Recipes for Mixtures that Support and Attract Life – with photographs of work.

What you need | Where is the best placement in the garden for opportunistic life to alight | Using living lichen, mosses and ferns | Recipe #10 – Mixtures that makes use of cement’s natural porosity | Using peat moss, sawdust and wood chips, and potting soil | Several suggested baths for sculptures to invite moss, ferns, and lichen.



COMING SOONCat made with Saw Dust
Cement and sawdust ready for life
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Chapter 11

Recipes for Food-safe Serving Bowls, Platters and Plates – with photographs of work.

What you need | Japanese Lacquer-ware as the inspiration | How to use everyday existing molds around you | Using liquid latex to make a mold from large leaves for platters | Chapter shows how to make a bowl, platter, and plates | Photos of a selection of food safe ware.



COMING SOONfruit bowl
Food-safe Fruit bowl
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Chapter 12

Recipes for Leftovers – with photographs of work.

What you need | Using the wet concrete you have at the end of a day’s work | Filling children’s balloons | Styrofoam food packaging as molds or armatures. | Food and milk containers as bases for structures | re-mixing wet concrete to take lichen, fill balloons, start an on-going project with leftovers until that project is complete.



Leftover mixture w/ lichen ready for life



Of Consideration:



Art Made Concrete

The responsibility of making good choices has never been so critical, nor has making time for creative play been quite so important. I’ve been a practicing artist/teacher for over sixty years. I‘ve drawn, painted, sculpted and later taught, lectured and performed my art; my sole purpose has been to express my joy of life, participate with those who make up my culture, and learn how I fit into the scheme of things. I call art my career. It is a good life for I find meaning in my work.

I choose cement as my media even though it provokes negative press in the context of global warming. However, I’m not deterred – I’m confident even. In art’s spooky, sometimes taboo current political stance, beauty hangs in there as the greatest art-argument for cement/concrete use.

Cement in mixture, can be conversant with all the solid language forms of our planet. In concrete we make contemporary fossils, rocks, flood-plains, sophisticated canyons within the middle of cities, and sturdy playgrounds for children’s swings.

On the practical side, cement is much cheaper than ceramic. Cement is fired only once; ceramics are fired two times or more. The price of clay and glazing materials, plus the price for high-firing temperatures together cost more to buy and use than concrete. One person’s output of cement objects vs. another’s output of ceramic products shows that the carbon footprint for ceramic is greater. “Green” soy-based sealers are an environmentally friendly and waterproof. With lacquer, like Japanese lacquer ware, concrete surfaces becomes food-safe. Chemists are looking into new and less harmful ways to produce more efficient cements that can sequester carbon and ash. In the future, cement will have to become new and improved – benevolent in relationship to our environmental concerns.

Have you noticed the price of paints and other art supplies? Watercolor, oil, acrylic or pastels – the pigments in our paint boxes have been produced with considerable amounts of carbon impact on the environment. Let’s not forget that some of those pigments are made using heavy metals and are quite poisonous. Industrial cleaning solvents are deadly, as are aniline dyes, which have hazardous warnings on pigments for commercial paints and fabric dyes that are made from coal and petroleum by-products. “First, do no harm” are tough watchwords.

When I found out that world-wide cement production causes five to seven percent of all greenhouse emissions, I weighed the cause and effect of my actions and returned to my job of bringing light to darkness, getting my hands dirty, and makin’ mud pies that may make a difference.

- James Maxwell

Birdbath – eucalyptus, white, gray concrete, cinder blocks, aluminum– 30 x 42 inches

Books in the Works

Cookbook II

Art Concrete – Landmarks in the Garden - usable Follies

Making Flexible Latex and Silicone Molds – Include the Concrete Mixtures with Coloring, Sealers, and Finishes

Concrete Projects to Enhance the Garden – Chairs, stools, tables, and follies - make structures from a solarium for the cat, to a manor for the dog - garden sinks, food smokers to solar ovens



- Top of page -






concerns - Mission Statement































This site promotes James Maxwell - multimedia artist and author.

Its contents supports the work of James Maxwell multimedia artist and writer. As a graphic designer his work consists of being a teacher of watercolors, oils, acrylic, and other graphic media. He is commissioned for paintings in private collections, and public venues. His print works ranges from etchings to glicee. Author of "The Concrete Gourmet's Cookbook - Solid Recipes" - the book consists of 12 chapter of how to make objects using the referred concrete recipes, cement recipes, using concrete as fine art material, cement as media. The how-to use these concrete projects range from making garden planters to food safe serving vessels, worm bunkers to sculptural mixes, and day to day usable objects to follies.

Names and words associated with James Maxwell are: artist James Maxwell, author James Maxwell, illustrator, Graphic designer, painter, watercolorist, sculptor, multimedia artist, writer, The Concrete Gourmet's Cookbook, cement recipes, concrete recipes, how-to mix concrete, concrete art projects, Along the Way - Travel Stories, he is co partnered with Mendocino Stories an online community of artists, writers, and musical artists, http://www.mendocinostories.com, he is one of three coauthor, and the graphic designer, of Along the Way Travel Stories.

© James Maxwell 2010 | P.O. Box 2627 | Fort Bragg, CA 95437 | jasmax@mcn.org