Advanced Faux Bois Sculpting

by Donald R. Tucker


Course Description


Faux Bois;( Pronounced Foe-'Bwah); French for "False Wood"


Faux Bois in Sculpted Cement is the very nearly lost art form that employs cement-based media over a steel framework or "armature" to create three dimensional representations of wood and wooden objects.


This intensive, three-day course focuses entirely on the use of a very unique cement-based sculpting media and nothing else.  The subjects of design, armature construction and the basic sculpting of traditional cement based media will not be addressed.  It is therefore recommended for those possessing a reasonable level of skill in these areas.


The media involved is a very demanding, modified neat Portland paste that is unlike any cement product that all but a handful of master craftsmen have ever worked with.  In the process of trying to learn this craft, I quickly discovered that absolutely no information regarding this “secret formula” existed and was forced to spend many years studying the media, existing works and the history of the craft to develop workable formulations and processes.  I had been told by various “experts” in the field, including a couple of PhD’s, that what I was attempting to accomplish was thoroughly “impossible” for a variety of reasons.  I had to correct them by showing evidence of work that had been accomplished nearly a hundred years before and which remains both functional and beautiful today.  It might fall into the realm of the impossible for them…but a tiny handful of highly skilled Mexican artisans had indeed cracked the code.  It is indeed difficult…but not impossible.


Unquestionably, the very finest examples of work employing this media belong to one Dionicio Rodriguez of San Antonio, Texas and were executed in the first half of the last century.  While his name may be virtually unknown in the art world, he has the much honored distinction of having eighteen sites listed on the prestigious National Register of Historic Places.   His total body of work is second only to the renowned Frank Lloyd Wright.  And with numerous other sites up for review, it is entirely conceivable that this “unknown” artist/craftsman may one day top that very distinguished list.


This course will cover the processes involved with formulating, mixing, modeling, sculpting, curing and finishing this very unique media.  And while it centers on the style, techniques and textures of Faux Bois, the media itself knows no limits.  It can be applied to any style of art you choose to pursue.


It is my sincere hope that yet another generation of artists and craftspeople will take what I have learned, continue to improve upon it, and move forward to create a whole new body of work that is even more inspiring, beautiful and enduring than what I and the others before me may have managed to achieve.


Thank you for your interest,

Donald R. Tucker


Course Overview


Faux Bois;( Pronounced Foe-'Bwah); French for "False Wood"


 Faux Bois is the very nearly lost art form that employs steel and cement-based media to sculpt three dimensional representations of wood and wooden objects.  The purpose of this two day Advanced course is to provide the student with the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully formulate, mix, apply, sculpt and finish works employing the neat Portland cement paste mixtures that permit the extraordinary level of detail associated with the historical masterworks executed in this unique media.


NOTE:  This course will deal ONLY with the advanced techniques involved with working in the neat Portland paste finish mixture described above. In order to get the most from this class, it is therefore recommended that the student possess a fundamental knowledge of basic additive sculpting techniques and armature construction as well as a reasonable familiarity with basic cement mixing and application practices. 


Course Outline:

Given the volume of information and the limited time available, we will strive
to adhere to the schedule below as much as possible.  Feel free to ask questions
at any time, but if the requested information will be covered in depth
during a session to follow, I may postpone any such detailed response in an
effort to keep the class moving forward.  I have also programmed in a reasonable
amount of time at the end of the final day specifically for reviewing the entire process
and addressing any questions you may have.


Day One, AM

1. History of the Art & Media Employed

2. Overview of Media, Materials & Sculpting Techniques

3. Formulation, Mixing & Application Methodologies


Day One, PM

4.  Formulate, Mix & Fabricate Several samples

5.  Basic Shaping & Sculpting Techniques

6.  Curing Practices


Day Two, AM

7.  Formulate, Mix & Fabricate Several More samples

8.  Additional Shaping & Sculpting Techniques


Day Two, PM

9.  Fine Detail Shaping & Sculpting Techniques

10.  Curing Practices


Day Three AM

11.  Coloring Techniques (on Day One & Two Samples)

12. Final Finish & Sealing Materials & Practices


Day Three PM

13.  Alternative Finishing Options

14.  Full Process Review & Q&A