The Mud


Always read all safety precautions and warnings before using any product.

You will be using Portland cement which will burn. It causes a chemical burn that you will not feel happening until perhaps hours later and they can be severe. You will be working with silica powder which can harm your lungs. You will be working with lime which can be harmful to your health and you will be mixing dangerous ingredients with water causing splashes and sloping that has high potential of getting in your eyes.

Don’t let it ruin your day, it’s quite harmless with the proper protection. Just wear safety glasses a quality dust mask, rubber gloves and some long sleeves.


Concrete in the minds of most of us is the often grey colored hard stuff used for all sorts of useful and decorative purposes. Some call it cement which technically (I'm not a technical person) it is not. Cement is an ingredient in the mix used to create concrete.


Different mixes are often referred to with different names. Give or take a few additives or ingredients for different purposes.

Generally cement sand gravel and water is called “concrete“.

“Hypertufa” is cement peat moss sand and water although the sand is often at least partly replaced with a lightweight ingredient such as foam beads perlite or vermiculite.

“Shot Crete” is a concrete mix with lubricating ingredients for flowing through a line pump and being blasted at high velocity through an air nozzle.

“Mortar” is cement sand lime and water.


It can all get quite technical really but if you get confused you can just call any of them “mud”. In fact it can get so technical that some even have secret recipes known as "concrete designs" containing any number of ingredients.

I have personally experimented with many ingredients and mixes. I have even paid a premium $20.00 for an 60lbs. bag of specialty blended ingredients that was supposed to blow my artistic mind. Well it didn't perform as well as my secret design.

The results of my labor? My trial and error, the secret ingredients?

I’m not exactly sure of the exact mixture.  

It's because it’s not a consumable food, folks are not required to list all of the ingredients on their product.

But I can tell you exactly how to make up your own batch.

Buy a bag of “Type S Spec Mix” and add water.


Technically type S spec mix is a mortar officially tested to acquire the stamp “type S”

It’s relatively inexpensive and whatever is in it, it works well!

It does lists the main ingredients, Portland Cement, Lime & Sand.

Although if you look on the warnings, (as you should before you use it) you will clearly see it contains Silica which is why you should always wear a quality mask.

Judging by how well it works, I don’t doubt it has fly ash and polymers and who knows what else.

I use it for all of my textures over concrete base coats and I use it alone for small projects and sculptures.


1) lay out all of your tools etc.

Once you begin mixing the mortar, the timer starts counting down to the chemical reaction that eventually brings it to a solid unworkable state. Laying out and organizing everything you need in advance is a wise thing to do. Keep a bucket of clean water nearby where you can quickly rinse your hands or clean a tool or even place the ones your finished with so they won't harden for a later cleaning while you touch up and finish your work.

Creating a void

2) Dunk single sheets of newspaper in a bucket of water and pack them tightly into the interior tube of the top cap lid being sure not to leave any voids as this will be where the lamp shade fits later.

3) When it's full, place it paper side down on a hard surface and apply pressure evenly to the top. This will flatten the paper even with the bottom of the top cap lid’s wire.

4) Be sure you have the wire up and the open paper down when you apply the mud.