This is all your fault! How Buddy Rhodes used clay and gunpowder to start the concrete countertop industry.

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This week’s episode is “This is all your fault! How Buddy Rhodes used clay and gunpowder to start the concrete countertop industry.” Get the inside story from Buddy about how he started as a potter in the 1970s, incorporated Buddy Rhodes Studio Inc in 1982, and with his avant garde and visionary approach spawned an industry.

Your chance to meet, learn from, and work alongside Buddy is coming up May 8-9, 2023! Click here for more information.

Join us LIVE every Wednesday! Click  here for joining info. To submit podcast topic requests or suggestions, click here.


Jeff Girard (00:00):
Recording in progress. All right, well good morning everybody.

Caleb Lawson (00:05):
Welcome everybody.

Buddy Rhodes (00:07):
Good morning.

Caleb Lawson (00:09):
I’m excited to have Buddy Rhodes, the infamous Buddy Rhodes on our podcast this morning because he is, he’s certainly not humble or anything at all. He’s going to not be embarrassed that

Buddy Rhodes (00:20):
I called. I love talking about myself.

Caleb Lawson (00:25):
And so welcome to The Maker and The Mix podcast, episode three with me and Jeff and Buddy. And we’re excited to have everybody in here and I’m interested to see who else joins as well. But I wanted to jump right in and get a quick overview of kind of Buddy’s, like a 30,000 foot view of Buddy, your beginning in ceramics and pottery and then jumping into this insane material we call concrete and how you kind of got there. Yeah,

Buddy Rhodes (01:03):
Well, good morning everybody. My story goes that I was kind of directionless in high school. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. Then I kind of put my hands in clay and felt really attuned to it. So I went to college, the Alfred University College of Ceramics in upstate New York and became a potter and just loved making cups and balls and functional wear of supplying people with things that they could use in their everyday life. And then opened up pottery and Ithaca outside of Ithaca, actually in the early seventies. And that wasn’t that easy to do to create a business or to get income from making cups and teapots and diaphragm jars, but honey jars actually. But I moved to San Francisco in 79 and started to take over their kilns, making my bricks. And instead of cups and balls, I was making bricks and other the things that you can make with clay.

Buddy Rhodes (02:31):
And I developed this, well, I started work with clay by pressing it against plaster molds to make these 12 by 12 by six inch hollow bricks. And that’s where this press technique kind of came from. And it’s a old packing dry pack in a way. And then I was used to making my own clay bodies at school at Alfred. So by mixing different dry materials and putting it into a mixer there, I had clay. But so I just tried to make a self hardening clay in college at the Art Institute and just pulled around with Portland cement and different sands and aggregates, and I started to get something that acted like clay. So from there I just kept on playing and playing and working with this material. And one thing led to another. I incorporated my business in 82, Buddy Rhodes Studio Inc. And just moved on from there. The phone rang and people asked if I could do this or that. And I also was in the Bay Area with Fu Tung, who is also doing concrete work, but he was approaching concrete in a very traditional way, wet cast heavy rebar. And I was coming at it through a pottery standpoint where I was just having a great time developing this product, this material, because that’s where I am now.

Caleb Lawson (04:27):
So you kind of came at it from the standpoint of I want something that acts like what I’m used to but does bigger. Right,

Buddy Rhodes (04:36):
Exactly. Yeah. I knew that I had to come up with my own style and pottery or art, and this was a wonderful way to do it. I just stumbled upon it basically, but it makes perfect sense to me. People noticed that it was something different. And I got into magazines and stuff like that. Different architects would use my product and I would take out ads in fine home building and me Metropolitan Metropolis, these weird black and white ads that kind of was more about the imagination than selling a product. And that really helped.

Jeff Girard (05:25):
And what year was that?

Buddy Rhodes (05:27):
That was 84, something like that. 86

Caleb Lawson (05:35):

Buddy Rhodes (05:37):
To remember

Caleb Lawson (05:38):
Fu Tung was already in concrete in the way that we sort of think about it. When you got started or were y’all around the same time?

Buddy Rhodes (05:49):
Well, maybe around the same time. Fine home building did a feature on me and doing a fireplace around. And I think from there he was interested and over and got a bunch of my samples, but I would also see his work in the Bay Area, or it was really a great thing that we could feed off of one another. I felt it was great.

Jeff Girard (06:17):
Your styles are so very, very different. They live in the same universe, but they’re very, very different galaxies.

Caleb Lawson (06:26):
Well, and I think just the unique approach of treating it like clay of material that you were familiar with and educated in is just such a unique approach to begin with. So I mean, that speaks to the artistry by itself, that you had that kind of initiative and wherewithal to say, well, I don’t know. This kind of behaves the way I want it to. Let’s see what happens. So that to me is just so inspiring, which segues me into the It’s Your Fault, I think, is the title of the episode

Jeff Girard (07:04):
Your Fault, buddy? That’s

Lane Mangum (07:05):
The title of this podcast. It’s Your Fault,

Caleb Lawson (07:07):
Fault. So it’s your fault, buddy. I think all of us can say that really at this point.

Buddy Rhodes (07:15):
Well, thank you Buddy

Jeff Girard (07:16):
Has some very, very broad shoulders because a lot of people are standing on them.

Caleb Lawson (07:21):
Absolutely. Yeah. So Jeff, if you could just again, with a 30,000 foot Absolutely. Of how Buddy inspired to start and what that led to. Cause I think

Jeff Girard (07:32):
That’s so

Caleb Lawson (07:33):

Jeff Girard (07:35):
Back in the old days post after the timeframe that Buddy’s been talking about mid to late eighties, early nineties and all that in the mid nineties Lane and I lived in California, in Southern California. I was working for the US Navy doing research to support the CB’s and other people in the Navy. And there was a time where that was great then. But because we’re both east coasters, we decided to move back east. And so in 1999 we moved to back to North Carolina’s Lane’s from North Carolina. And

Lane Mangum (08:23):
Interestingly, we never once heard about concrete countertops while we were in California.

Jeff Girard (08:27):
Nope. They were big.

Lane Mangum (08:28):
So here we go back to North Carolina.

Jeff Girard (08:31):
Back to North Carolina. That’s a good point, man. I didn’t have a job and

Lane Mangum (08:36):
I was a software developer,

Jeff Girard (08:38):
So you had umpteen million job offers.

Lane Mangum (08:41):
It was the dot com days.

Jeff Girard (08:42):
So I was like, okay, we bought our first house and I was going to maybe focus on putting our touches on it. And one of our grand schemes was to remodel the kitchen. And in the course of meeting our new neighbors and kind of getting settled in, one of my neighbors, he was clearing out his garage because I did woodworking and he did, he dabbled in woodworking. And so we kind of had some commonality there. And he is like, Hey Jeff, I got all these magazines and you’re talking about remodeling your house and doing this and some of these might be helpful. And one of those was this magazine, this old house from December, 1998, and this is the copy he gave me. And in this episode or whatever issue, issue was this article, lemme hold it up so everybody can see about this guy in California who did crazy things with Concrete.

Lane Mangum (09:47):
And look, he’s pressing it. He’s pressing it right there in that picture.

Jeff Girard (09:51):
He’s pressing it. There you go. I don’t know if he can see it, but that, that’s a slightly younger buddy in that photo, because you might recognize this. So the article talks about him and it mirrors a lot of the things Buddy mentioned. Oh, there’s your Henry.

Lane Mangum (10:12):
Oh, Henry.

Jeff Girard (10:14):
Yeah. So it talks about the material as a clay analog. And what struck me is here’s this material being used in a way that I have never ever seen. I’m an engineer, we don’t actually make things with concrete. We make cylinders to break, we make beams to break. We test the material because we design with numbers and the numbers are representations of the materials. Somebody else builds things out of bridges, buildings, roads, dams, things like that. So my experience with Concrete, my personal experience with concrete was about the same time Buddy was doing his fantastic things. I was in high school making a shed foundation with my dad, went to Home Depot and bought bags of whatever. And I’m not even sure Home Depot existed back then,

Lane Mangum (11:21):
I don’t think they did.

Jeff Girard (11:22):
It was a local hardware store, I’m sure. And it’s just basically we borrowed his uncle’s concrete mixer and three shovel fulls of this and some squirt water with a hose and pour it. And as far as I know, the shed’s still there. But that was my experience with concrete. It was this mysterious stuff that you added water to actually got hard and it was gray and that was it. And it was kind of heavy. And here in this article, I’m going to go back to the article on the very first, it’s might hard to see Buddy is putting his paste in a giant sphere of multicolored, multi shade grays. We still all want that planter buddy. Yes.

Jeff Girard (12:16):
And then here’s, here’s concrete that’s not gray. And this was the very first time I had ever become aware that concrete could be something other than gray, that it could be something other than the utilitarian material that we all experience. And somewhere in the midst of whatever, I got this inspiration that, hey, I want to do this. And we needed new countertops and we couldn’t decide what we were going to have, whether it was going to be Corian or laminate or whatever. And granite was a little outside our budget because remember, I didn’t have a job and we had just paid to move ourselves across the country. And by the way, we bought a house. So Oh yeah. This was like, wow, I want to do this. And you, it’s all your fault, buddy. You inspired me to do the first one. And because this article is not a do it yourself, here’s how it’s done back then.

Jeff Girard (13:18):
And probably this is going to resonate with you, Buddy. Everybody had their own techniques. Fuun had his methods. You had your methods. They’re probably what a handful of other folks doing this, all independent of each other, or everybody was aware of each other, but they kind of did their own thing. And it was all centered, mostly in California. There’s somebody Soup Can in Chicago and get real and a couple other folks. But this was very much an isolated, independent endeavor. These are all personal creations. So what I took from this was, okay, here’s this idea, this concept, but I am going to, hang on, I’m going to mute, mute, mute a couple folks here that are in the way. Okay. So I didn’t know how to do what I’m going to do. I didn’t know how to make concrete different colors. I didn’t know how to make it look like what Buddy was making. But what I decided to do was to take all my textbooks, reinforced concrete design, mechanics and materials, other things, and treat this just another engineering pro problem. The issue was it took me about how long Lane, eight months, eight or so, eight months from this idea to

Caleb Lawson (15:02):

Jeff Girard (15:03):
Finally have kitchen countertops because I had to figure out, well, how do you build these form kind of things. And I had nothing. I had nothing. I didn’t know where you got things. And I didn’t know how do you smooth concrete, how do you smooth it? I didn’t know anything about diamond tooling. So it took a lot of legwork and a lot of slow methodical testing. But in the end, I got there and I got there because of buddy inspiring me. And I think

Buddy Rhodes (15:37):
I did my job. You

Jeff Girard (15:38):
Did your job and you continue to do your job.

Caleb Lawson (15:42):
So have, I have two observations that I’d love to interject. And the first one is something I noticed in that article and a couple other places is most of us are involved in primarily making concrete countertops. But Buddy, in the eighties you had already, I mean certainly you did them, but sort of transcended that into furniture, which furniture and planters and things like that, which is really the direction all of us are taking at this point anyway. And so it’s fascinating to me that you had that foresight in the eighties to say, this is actually where this industry should go before it was even formed, which is brilliant. And then the second thing I wanted to note that I find kind of funny is one thing I’ve noticed in kind of culture in our western society right now is that there is one person that I’m aware of that is somewhat ubiquitous. Everybody likes her, nobody dislikes her. And that is Dolly Parton. Does not matter what your beliefs are, what your political affiliations are. And I would say,

Lane Mangum (16:41):
What does she have to do with concrete?

Caleb Lawson (16:43):
Well, I would say the same thing about you in our industry is what I was getting at is everybody likes Buddy.

Jeff Girard (16:47):

Buddy Rhodes (16:48):
Me and Dolly. That’s true.

Lane Mangum (16:49):
That’s true.

Buddy Rhodes (16:50):
That’s great. And Dolly with a name like Buddy though, I mean,

Jeff Girard (16:54):
How could you not like somebody named Buddy?

Caleb Lawson (16:55):
Buddy? I

Buddy Rhodes (16:56):
Mean, hey buddy,

Caleb Lawson (16:57):
This incredibly ubiquitous, wonderful person that is such an inspiration to all of us who also had the foresight to know where the industry was going to go before it started. So I just think that’s a really cool,

Lane Mangum (17:08):

Buddy Rhodes (17:08):
Pretty amazing. I had no idea I was creating this industry, but I just love this material and that it can do it. You don’t have to just pour it, you can and work with it. And that’s what I want to bring about.

Jeff Girard (17:23):

Buddy Rhodes (17:24):
And there’s so many different things. You can troll it, pour it, gouge it

Lane Mangum (17:30):
On, but particularly coming up in May, you’re going to be focusing on pressing and working with their hands, with concrete. I mean there’s, like you mentioned, there’s so many different methods, troweling and pouring and spraying G F R C.

Buddy Rhodes (17:49):
And that’s why I pressing, I just settled on a mix, one particular mix, and then I just took off from there because I knew that the shrinkage rate, I knew that it worked, it got hard, so I didn’t have to come up with a new design mix every project.

Jeff Girard (18:08):
That’s actually a really good point that I share that philosophy, that material philosophy is why have something, why have five or six or seven different specialized materials that are very narrowly focused for a single purpose. When you can develop, maybe you’re using somebody else’s material, maybe you’re using something you created, but when you only have one material to work with, you become really attuned to it, what it can do, what it can’t do, what you are able to do with it. And you can develop and hone your skills to be really good at achieving the looks and the creations that resonate with you and your customers. And that’s kind of a very good way, a good philosophy, a good mindset to have with when you’re doing anything that jack of all trades master of none. And that sts, that’s only a part of the saying, and I can’t remember the rest of it, but when you are able to focus on becoming good with one thing, you become really good at it and you become really efficient at it. And for those of us who are running businesses, that’s sometimes in opposition with the process of creation. The process of creation is something that involves a lot of passion, a lot of emotion, a lot of trial, and it takes time and patience. And sometimes our customers don’t have that. So when you are really attuned to the material you’re working with, you are, when you are the master of your material, then the process of creation can be more spontaneous, but also it can perhaps be more quick. And that’s good for business.

Caleb Lawson (20:07):
Yeah, I mean, when you understand what you’re working with, it’s a lot easier to play and a lot easier to test your boundaries and things like that. I’m curious everybody who’s in here, if anybody has any questions for Jeff or Buddy, Buddy being the guest of honor here. So I’d love, since this is a live kind of format, I’d love for anybody who has questions to ask them.

Buddy Rhodes (20:39):
I have a question.

Caleb Lawson (20:40):
Sure. Yes.

Buddy Rhodes (20:43):
Jeff, when did the white Portland Cement product come? Do you know? Cause you’re right, everything was great.

Jeff Girard (20:51):
That’s a really good question. I don’t know when white Portland cement was first developed. That’s one of the few things I don’t know about cement. I’m going to guess that it was probably, let’s see, when did they start making swimming fools out of concrete? Back in the thirties,

Lane Mangum (21:11):
Brandon, do you know

Brandon Trudell (21:14):
My supplier told me that they used bleach to make white Portland cement.

Lane Mangum (21:19):
Oh, okay. Wow. Perfect.

Brandon Trudell (21:24):
That’s where I’m at in the world. So I don’t know.

Lane Mangum (21:26):

Jeff Girard (21:28):
So white Portland cement and gray Portland cement are made in exactly the same way. But the difference is with white Portland cement, the raw materials that go into it, the limestones and the other things that are the raw chemical foundational elements. The two elements that make gray cement gray are iron and manganese. So rocks and things like that have higher iron contents and higher manganese contents will make the concrete gray. And that’s why different brands of gray cement and different sources of gray cement have different shades and tones because the raw materials that feed into the making of it have different levels. And those different levels are, there’s some very broad limits that are placed on those ingredients or those elements that, so they don’t affect the strength or the set time or anything like that. But by and large, it doesn’t matter what the color of gray cement is because it’s not important.

Caleb Lawson (22:37):
So Buddy, were you using white or gray Portland at the time?

Buddy Rhodes (22:41):
White. Yeah, white. I was three times as much, but I could do so much more with it. Not that I don’t like a gray Portland cement. I love it. But you can’t get the colors and the consistency that you can with white. Yeah,

Jeff Girard (22:58):

Caleb Lawson (22:58):

Jeff Girard (22:59):
Colors everything to us. And

Caleb Lawson (23:02):
Especially really blue.

Jeff Girard (23:03):
Yeah, blue and consistency. In terms of repeatability. I want to get the same shade of yellow or the same blue. Well, I can’t get yellow at all with gray cement, and I can’t have a consistent color if my gray cement is constantly changing and I have no control or no idea what it’s going to be like until I start using it.

Caleb Lawson (23:27):
Well, and that’s one thing that I would touch on just as an aside, is when we’re selecting our ingredients as artisans, that’s one of the things I care most about, is this thing going to be the same color every time I buy it? Whatever that might be. Whether it’s, and I’ve actually noticed recently that I use VCAS as my pozzolan, and I’ve even noticed that my VCAS is a slightly different shade of white lately than it has been, which has had, I mean, I’ve had to adjust my colors. So paying attention to those things. And Buddy, I think it’s brilliant that the pressed method also enables you to have so much variation that there’s a little bit more room for character.

Buddy Rhodes (24:12):
Yes. That’s a good way of putting it.

Caleb Lawson (24:14):

Buddy Rhodes (24:15):
No, it’s very forgiving and yeah, it’s a great thing. Then you can always backfill the voids with the same color, getting a monotone.

Caleb Lawson (24:27):
Well, it’s a tone on tone. I mean, you can get that

Buddy Rhodes (24:31):
Tone on tone.

Caleb Lawson (24:33):
Yeah, I love it. Yeah.

Buddy Rhodes (24:35):
And it stains kind of get hidden within that. Or if it chips, you can fix it.

Jeff Girard (24:41):

Caleb Lawson (24:42):
So you end up actually getting something that’s perceivable perceived as far more durable than even theoretically it is because you’ve, there’s so much visual movement. You’re actually able to then hide a lot of after the fact imperfection. So when it’s in somebody’s home, if they, like you said, damage it or standard or whatever, it’s hidden. And so you end up with something that, I mean, again, the unknown forethought that you had, it’s very impressive.

Buddy Rhodes (25:18):
Thank you.

Jeff Girard (25:19):
Do you remember how we first met where we first met?

Buddy Rhodes (25:23):
Well, I think I met you in Las Vegas. I think I had a walk around with, yeah, Lane, you and

Lane Mangum (25:35):
I walk around with me actually because I went to the world of Concrete by myself,

Buddy Rhodes (25:39):
By yourself

Lane Mangum (25:40):
Time. And I walked around with you and Susan, and we looked at those black and white striped columns at Sephora store in

Buddy Rhodes (25:47):
Vegas that I had done. We went to that art gallery in

Lane Mangum (25:52):
One of

Buddy Rhodes (25:52):
The hotels.

Lane Mangum (25:54):
It was the one in the Wynn.

Jeff Girard (25:55):
Yeah, it was September 28th, 2001.

Caleb Lawson (25:59):
Why do you know that date?

Lane Mangum (26:01):
Oh, Jeff, you did meet him before me.

Jeff Girard (26:03):
Steve Rosenblatt’s house.

Lane Mangum (26:05):
Yeah. Yeah.

Jeff Girard (26:06):
The first summit, concrete summit. Do you remember?

Buddy Rhodes (26:10):
Yeah, that’s where we met.

Jeff Girard (26:11):
Yeah, that’s where we met. You were there. And I was very excited because you were the only one I knew. I wasn’t even aware of Fu Tung, but he was there. That’s when he presented his first book before it was published

Lane Mangum (26:27):
In a slideshow. That’s

Jeff Girard (26:28):
When everybody got upset. But yeah, that was the very first time we met. And that was really interesting to me as I literally was still working out of my garage. I kicked Lane out of the garage and that was my shop, and we had a park in the driveway.

Caleb Lawson (26:48):
Oh, car here.

Jeff Girard (26:50):

Buddy Rhodes (26:54):
Well, that conference was so great to bring everybody together to realize we all had the same problems and the same ups and downs. And so I love meeting people that way. Good job guys.

Jeff Girard (27:12):
Really. And

Caleb Lawson (27:12):
You really don’t realize how many people have the same problems until you get ’em all together. And the fact that we are probably all having the same problems still is validity for continuing to get together. Yeah,

Jeff Girard (27:23):
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that meeting of being able to see people when, again, this was, the internet was different. It was exi, it existed, but it was different there. We didn’t have this kind of social media presence. Social media, none of that existed. It was emails, message boards, things like that. Almost a hundred percent text face. And websites were a lot more primitive and simple back then. But sitting at a table and talking to somebody face to face and seeing them as a person brings a level of humanity and civility to any kind of interchange of ideas. And you behave a lot better. And I think seeing people in person, and especially, I mean, we spent all day, we had lunch, we had dinner, we went out to that restaurant where Steve served the wine. He grew and made, he has this villa that looks like it’s out of Tuscany. That was really special to me, especially because a lot of, to me, a lot, I think there were, what, 10 or 11 people there, most of them knew each other. You knew. And I think Fu Tung knew Steve. Did Steve personally, Buddy?

Buddy Rhodes (29:07):
No, not before then. Yeah, not before you knew of me of my work. Right. Yeah, that’s right. That summit in Napa.

Jeff Girard (29:14):
Yeah, right.

Buddy Rhodes (29:15):
It was wonderful. I mean,

Jeff Girard (29:18):
Yeah, having that little tiny community, this little, tiny, tiny, tiny community of these makers, these visionaries, and here I am, just some guy who nobody knew of. I’m working on my garage and I got invited. It’s like, wow, I’m standing amongst giants here and seeing the huge body of work that they’re doing. It’s, there’s immediate level of respect when you see people’s accomplishments and they’re all very different. And that also was very inspirational. It’s like there’s not one way of doing something. There’s not one solution. There’s not one answer.

Caleb Lawson (29:59):
Well, and I think that brings to light for me, the times that we’ve kind of gotten together. I know I’ve had one very small and one very large alumni gathering, gathering of artisans, and they were CCI alumni gatherings at my shop. And then just super excited to plan this non-alumni gathering. I mean, it’s a full on thing, just because every time I’ve gotten together with people I respect in the industry, it grows me as an artisan. And I think that’s the big, for me anyway. And I mean, there’s the projects we’re doing and having buddy teach his techniques, I mean, these are mega points of interest for me. But I think ultimately where I get the most excited is meeting more, meeting more artisans and being able to spend real time mean when you go to dinner with people, when you make stuff with people, when you spend all day with people for five days in a row.

Caleb Lawson (31:07):
I mean, that’s when you get to know them. And to me, having the opportunity to do that is such a gift because that’s when you grow the most, when you are spending time with people who are doing things differently than you and able to draw on the experience of people who have been doing it for far longer than you. To me, that is the, and so I am going to plug the event in May because, or the class in May, because I’m just so excited about the opportunity to hang out with the people that are coming and make stuff with the people that are coming and eat with the people that are coming. I, and the time that I got to help teach a class with Jeff and Buddy back in, I guess it was 2019, it was my first time meeting you Buddy. And again, the chance to just hang out and chat. And I mean, to me, those are the biggest growth moments.

Buddy Rhodes (32:03):
I agree. It’s fine.

Jeff Girard (32:08):
So talking about the event in May, this is not necessarily a plug or anything like that, but for those of you who may not know, buddy has a brand new book that he put out, and this is my copy that he sent.

Caleb Lawson (32:21):
It’s awesome.

Buddy Rhodes (32:23):
It’s fantastic. Yeah, it’s great. Actually, it was published in 2008.

Jeff Girard (32:27):
Oh, okay. But

Buddy Rhodes (32:30):
How are we

Caleb Lawson (32:30):
Not, well, it’s great,

Buddy Rhodes (32:32):
But I think it really covers a lot with the material and by working it up vertical surface and yeah, 2008.

Jeff Girard (32:44):

Caleb Lawson (32:45):
This is, well, thank you for the copy. I read it through a couple of times and it’s really, really cool.

Jeff Girard (32:54):
This is one of the, thank you. This is the project we’re going to be working on with you. And I thought that was a brilliant idea to have, essentially, let me get it in frame here, step by, not necessarily a step-by-step process for the attendees or anybody else, but it’s something where if you have foreknowledge of what’s going to be done in terms of the grand scope of things, and then you actually immerse yourself in the process, at least for me, I’m speaking for myself, is if I know that what the big picture is going to look like and I start getting on a small tactical level of doing the nuts and bolts, if I already know where I’m going, it’s a whole lot easier for me to understand what’s happening, why things are happening, and it makes it easier to get to where I’m going achieve that beautiful look. And this is going to be a great opportunity for folks to get in there and start doing. You’re going to be showing your hand press technique, and you’re not going to be doing the whole thing. They’re going to be doing it too.

Caleb Lawson (34:06):

Jeff Girard (34:07):
And that’s really, that’s

Lane Mangum (34:08):
A pretty big piece.

Buddy Rhodes (34:09):
I need the help.

Caleb Lawson (34:11):

Lane Mangum (34:12):
It’s pretty big.

Jeff Girard (34:12):
There are three big pieces that all have to be done simultaneously.

Lane Mangum (34:19):
And yeah, hold the book up again, Jeff, because

Caleb Lawson (34:23):
I’ve already got the

Lane Mangum (34:23):
Cut sheet, like multiple sections to this. Yeah, we have the cut sheets ready, but, and the vertical part is going to be the pressed part, right? And then the top part is actually going to be GFRC. So we’ll be covering two totally different techniques in the

Jeff Girard (34:39):
Class. See? See if there’s a photo of the finished piece.

Caleb Lawson (34:45):
I think it’s on the back,

Jeff Girard (34:47):
Back part,

Caleb Lawson (34:48):

Jeff Girard (34:48):
There’s sort of a closeup of it. That’s your wheat, wheat color. And then we’re going to do ash for the countertop. So it’d be this gray,

Lane Mangum (35:03):
And we might have some wine or some beer.

Jeff Girard (35:05):
Might have some wine in the

Lane Mangum (35:06):

Jeff Girard (35:07):
Finished. Exactly. Yep. And

Caleb Lawson (35:09):
Coast happens to be a bourbon aficionado, so maybe there’ll be some of that.

Lane Mangum (35:12):
There may be some bourbon.

Buddy Rhodes (35:14):
Yes, that’s right.

Jeff Girard (35:16):
Yeah. And there is a brewery, more or less

Caleb Lawson (35:20):
Distance, less than a block.

Jeff Girard (35:21):
Less than a block. So yeah, there’s not going to be any shortage of tasty libations for

Buddy Rhodes (35:30):
The people who we’re going to need it after we we’re

Caleb Lawson (35:32):
Going to need it. Right, indeed. Well, I do not by any means need to cut this short. And if y’all want to keep going, great. But you’re also going to, if you come, you’re going to meet a very pregnant version of my wife, and we have an OB appointment to get to. So I need to go. But I’m just super excited about the chance to talk to you buddy on the podcast. And so thank you for joining. Yes, thanks us. And like I said, I’m not ending. Yeah, thank you, Buddy. But I do have to go, but just so excited to hang with you in May. Oh, thanks. Hopefully my shop is not too much of a disappointment. Well, it’s going to be fun. Oh, we’re excited. Thanks for

Jeff Girard (36:12):
Joining us, Caleb. Well,

Caleb Lawson (36:15):
Y’all have fun and I’ll see you all in may.

Jeff Girard (36:19):
Definitely. Definitely. All right,

Lane Mangum (36:21):
Thanks Caleb.

Jeff Girard (36:23):
So one of the things that I think is important and why I’m super happy you are here with us, Buddy, and the reason why I think it’s important for you to be at our class and show this method is that it seems just looking at the broad scope of the body of work everybody is doing, every folks all around the world are doing this, which is fantastic. I

Caleb Lawson (36:57):

Jeff Girard (36:57):
It’s so

Lane Mangum (36:58):
Exciting. And we do have people coming from Australia,

Jeff Girard (37:01):

Lane Mangum (37:03):
There’s three from Australia, one from Singapore, one from Switzerland so far.

Jeff Girard (37:08):
Yeah, so far. So it’s going to be really, really excited. Too bad Yermek from Kazakhstan can’t come, but we could have the far West Asia, I guess you could call Kazakhstan. Most people it seems just from seeing things I I’ve seen on social media have, everybody has their own style, but by and large, I’m seeing a lot of more monolithic, solid pipe looks. And that’s nothing wrong with that, but I think it’s important to us and our industry to realize that that’s not the only look, that’s the only way of making concrete. And having the person who created this technique and who is still championing and still has such a passionate embrace about it, to show the press technique as a way of celebrating this material in a very, very different way, your original approach of treating it like clay, that didn’t need to be hardened.

Jeff Girard (38:24):
And in fact, in this article, in this article that was in this magazine from 1998, it said that the reason why you switched to using concrete was that you wanted to make pieces that were too big to fit into a kiln because you were doing sort of gorilla art sculptures. One of the things that that’s in here that struck me was you did at an art show, you erected a 25 foot long seven foot high brick wall. Do you remember this? Yeah. That had mortar that was laced with gunpowder. And then in front of the cheering crowd, you set the wall of blaze. Talk about,

Lane Mangum (39:13):
That’s very avant garde,

Jeff Girard (39:15):
Very avant garde, lighting your bricks on fire, letting a wall on, should

Lane Mangum (39:19):
We light something on fire and

Buddy Rhodes (39:20):
Just turn it,

Jeff Girard (39:22):

Buddy Rhodes (39:22):
Gun, let’s do

Jeff Girard (39:23):
It, gunpowder in it and then lit it on fire.

Buddy Rhodes (39:26):
I was crazy. I went to the gun store and said, oh, I want to buy gunpowder. And they sold it to me and I put it in paraffin. I don’t know why I didn’t blow myself up, but yeah, I was just trying to think outside the box and just, I love firing the clay. They were raw clay blocks, two foot by two foot by one foot that was this long wall. And so they were fired by the mortar.

Jeff Girard (39:55):
That’s fantastic. That’s like reverse process. Just build it first and then fire it in place.

Buddy Rhodes (40:06):
And who doesn’t like fire?

Jeff Girard (40:08):
That’s great. Absolutely. Absolutely. So absolutely, it’s that the passion and B, the creativity and C, the really left field thinking that lets you step way outside of convention, break the rules, ignore the rules, and create your own. And that really surprises great. Really impassioned me to get going. And I think having people see this, hear you become aware of you, maybe not. Some of the new folks are coming on board and they’re not aware of this rich history that goes back to the early eighties. So we’re talking, what, 40 years ago? This is not a new industry anymore. This is what,

Buddy Rhodes (41:03):
No, 10 years

Jeff Girard (41:04):
Ago the landscape was very different. 15 years ago, people just started using G F R C, but you were doing something radically different 40 years ago, and where are we going to be in 40 years? That’s the exciting thing is this is the ball. Ball has just started rolling. It’s just started to pick up inertia and momentum and where can we take it? And the things that have changed over the time have just helped things along. I know from my own point of view, way back when I got started in 1999, I had no idea, I didn’t even know white cement existed other than reading about it in your article. And I didn’t know anything about the tools or the equipment or the materials that we use on a day-to-day basis that we come to take for granted. Those were rare jewels you had to dig and hunt for. It was this grand archeological dig to figure out how the heck, where do I get these diamond polishing pads and what’s the machine that they go on? What is it called? And where do you get it? And all that stuff. Exactly.

Jeff Girard (42:22):
It was really hard. It was really hard. Back what? Back in the old days. Now we have, we’re spoiled for choice and we’re spoiled for choice for every single thing we need. And that certainly frees us from the burden of having to settle for maybe an inferior ingredient or do with a tool that’s not quite right. And it does let us focus on the creative aspect of things. And that I think is a very positive thing. I think there are some downsides to having a lot of cookie cutter supplies where everybody uses the same thing and everybody’s kind of shoehorned into the same mindset of, well, this material’s designed to do this or this tool’s designed to do that. So therefore that’s all I can do. And I certainly get a sense of that from talking with people is where’s that out of the box thinking?

Jeff Girard (43:24):
Where is that we’re going to bend the rules because I want to do something nobody else is doing. I, I want to see more of that. And keeping Buddy engaged with everybody I think is critical to that. Because you are a symbol. Not only are you the grandfather of all this, but you are a symbol of that very radical avant-garde thinking that I think is at the heart of what this industry is. We make concrete because we’re passionate about it. We make concrete because is because of what we can do with it. What its nature is we make concrete because it is not natural stone, it is not plastic, it is not mass produced, it is not fake

Buddy Rhodes (44:19):
Anything. And we can do it in your garage or you know, can do it by yourself. You don’t need a lot of equipment. And that’s what I like about it and that’s what brings it back to a potter doing his own thing and recycling. And so it is a cottage kind of industry. I’ve really enjoyed coming up with all this stuff to just coming up with my own craft. That was great that I did because I can’t follow rules. I don’t reads instructions. It just becomes blurry to me. But I do know, have an idea where I want it to go and then however I can get there. But yeah. Thanks guys.

Lane Mangum (45:04):
Yeah, I love that you and Jeff have such different approaches. So I look forward to having both of you together. And I think that people are going to get a lot out of that learning from both approaches. Yeah, it’ll be fine.

Jeff Girard (45:17):
And that’s coming up, so

Lane Mangum (45:18):
We That’s coming up. Yeah. Do we have any questions from the folks on here? Or

Jeff Girard (45:26):
We got quite a

Lane Mangum (45:27):
Few people. Anything you want to touch on?

Matt Vieck (45:31):
I don’t know if it’s a question, but I do want to say, I guess going with the title of the podcast, Jeff, it would be your fault.

Lane Mangum (45:39):
It’s all your fault.

Matt Vieck (45:42):
So I’m kind of in a nice to meet you buddy.

Buddy Rhodes (45:47):
Nice to meet you, Matt.

Matt Vieck (45:49):
But I’ve looked a bunch of your articles. Obviously I’m buying your product now with using the white pre-mixed bag. It’s kind of worked out good for me. Luckily I’ve actually found a place that delivers it to me for free, so I can

Lane Mangum (46:05):
Excellent, excellent.

Matt Vieck (46:07):
Yeah, so that was kind of part of the thing. Whenever I started covid and ingredients and stuff were, seemed, the individual ingredients were harder to get in smaller quantities for where I was at. But it’s been a great, great experience. I guess I attended the class back in 21 and kind of running into the good problem now of shops too small and everything’s kind of

Lane Mangum (46:38):
Already, wow, that’s nice. Great.

Matt Vieck (46:41):
Learn more as, learn as much as I can going on these podcasts. Like Caleb said, the more you interact with people, the better it kind of is. So that was great. I kind of made that leap to go to the class and that was definitely a good thing.

Jeff Girard (46:58):

Buddy Rhodes (46:59):
Thank you.

Jeff Girard (47:03):
Well, I’m not going to reveal too much. So in the May class, which is coming up, like I said, in next month, next month, so the first two days are with Buddy doing this, that project in his book pretty much exactly like this. So I’ve taken all the plan, the diagrams and the plans, and I’ve put it into CAD and Caleb’s, he’s got a big C N C machine. We’re going to cut all the material out, C n C, so everything’s nice and accurate and precise and assemble it and all that. So that’s the first two days. This next three days after that is going to be a big project that I’m working on. And I’m conferring my design and I’m not going to say too much other than it’s going to be big and it involves, oh, where I’m all my lots of engineering calculations, lots of engineering calculations. And in fact, I had to order a new textbook to help me finalize the design of this. So that’s all I’m going to say about it. It does involve structural steel. It does involve a lot of concrete and it does involve a lot of precise forming. So if you’re able to make it, and

Lane Mangum (48:29):
It’s going to be GFRC,

Jeff Girard (48:30):
It’s going to be GFRC. Yes. That one. Yes. It’s going to be G F R C. So we have three days to make it and three days to celebrate it. So this is going to be a really fun and environment this the whole five days. The first two are going to be incredibly involving and stimulating with buddy there creating this. Cool. I think we’re going to want to set it up outside so we have outside, it’ll be a little outdoor kitchen, like a little serving bar and all that. So it’s going to be really cool. And then the other piece is going to be an interior piece that’s going to be inside. Yeah,

Lane Mangum (49:18):
Permanent fixture.

Jeff Girard (49:19):
Permanent fixture. Yeah.

Buddy Rhodes (49:21):
So I’m looking forward to it. Yeah.

Jeff Girard (49:23):

Lane Mangum (49:25):
We are too. So yeah, I think if there’s no other questions or Buddy if there’s anything else you want to say.

Buddy Rhodes (49:34):
No, just thanks for inviting me on and

Lane Mangum (49:37):
Thank you for being here. Yeah, thank you for everything.

Jeff Girard (49:41):

Buddy Rhodes (49:42):
Hey, you’re welcome. And

Jeff Girard (49:43):
It’s all my pleasure. Your fault.

Buddy Rhodes (49:45):
Oh, here’s my, take me away. All right, see you folks.

Jeff Girard (49:55):
Take care. Thanks, Buddy. All right everybody. Thanks

Lane Mangum (49:58):
Everybody. Thank you.

Jeff Girard (49:59):
See you next month.

Buddy Rhodes (50:01):
All right. Bye

Jeff Girard (50:03):