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Woodstock resident makes creating hypertufa look easy

by: Merry MacKinnon Woodstock resident Catherine Failor holds a “hypertufa” planter that she made recently. As one of the organizers of the upcoming Woodstock Famers Market, Failor will demonstrate how to make hypertufa planters at the market, which opened Sunday, June 26.

It's inexpensive, and it's simple to make.

The only obscure thing about 'hypertufa' is its name…

A word derived from 'tufa', a type of volcanic rock, 'hypertufa' is an artificial stone made by mixing Portland cement, sand, peat moss, and water, and molding this substance into garden planters or sculpture.

'Hypertufa is lighter and more porous than concrete,' explains Woodstock resident Catherine Failor. 'So, it has a more natural look.'

Failor is founder of: www.GardenMolds.com - a local Internet website which features various plastic molds designed by Failor for creating decorative concrete garden stepping stones.

Experienced in mixing and molding clays and cements, Failor recently hosted a hypertufa workshop at her home, wherein a group of neighbors gathered on a Sunday afternoon in April to make hypertufa plant containers.

'I learned concrete work by designing garden molds for my garden line,' Failor explained, as she shoveled dry cement into a wheelbarrow, and then adds other ingredients, including an optional orange iron-oxide powder for color.

'When you're mixing this, it should be like crumbly cookie dough,' advised Failor. 'You don't want it too wet.'

At the end of Failor's workshop, after the planters had properly cured, attendees took home their hypertufaware to plant with sedums and other greenery. The remaining hypertufa containers were donated to raise money for Woodstock Farmers Market, and for the Woodstock Neighborhood Association's May 7 plant sale.

Held at the Woodstock Community Center, the plant sale's proceeds help pay for maintenance of the community center, explained plant sale organizer Terry Griffiths, who was among those who attended Failor's hypertufa workshop.

Several years ago, in order to prevent Portland Parks and Recreation, driven by budget imperatives, from closing Woodstock's well-used but small community center, neighborhood volunteers took on the responsibility of providing routine building maintenance. While relying on plant donations, the plant sale raises money for a maintenance fund, which pays for the community center's building supplies, additional custodial service, and some landscaping.

Other hypertufa planters made by Failor herself were displayed for sale at Woodstock Farmers Market on opening day, Sunday, June 26, in the new Key Bank's parking lot at S.E. 47th and Woodstock Boulevard. Proceeds from her sales there will go toward market operations, since organizers are trying to close a budget gap of several thousand dollars.

'We're having to raise $11,000, just to get this market off the ground,' Failor reflected.

She will also be present at the market this summer demonstrating how to make hypertufa.

Dates and times for Failor's hypertufa demonstrations will be announced later on the Woodstock Farmers Market new Internet website: www.woodstockmarketpdx.com .