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Old 01-04-2009, 05:15 AM
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Default Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

Okay so Christmas was good to me this year. I was able to snag an Exoterra 24x18x24 earlier this week. So the plan this time is to mount the rock wall onto eggcrate so that it can be removed from the terrarium and more importantly so that it can be built OUTSIDE of the terrarium. I plan on using a Velcro strip at the top of the rock wall on the back to secure it to the glass. This rock wall will also be incorporating a water fall. This is a first for me with the rock walls so we'll see how it goes. I plan on using a false bottom and already have that cut and fitted (i'll be adding the lifts later). On the left side of the tank I have created a pump box. I plan on lining this with nylon screen so that the pump does not become clogged. I am also planning on trying 100% Portland Cement for the concrete.








Here is the pump I plan on using.
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Old 01-04-2009, 05:19 AM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

Awesome! I just ordered that exact size exo Three days ago! I can't wait to see the final product
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Old 01-04-2009, 05:23 AM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

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Awesome! I just ordered that exact size exo Three days ago!
It's sweet! You won't be disappointed! I was pleasantly surprised by the thickness of the glass - it's all pretty heavy duty with the exception of the doors - not that they need any additional heft since they are not load bearing.
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Old 01-04-2009, 05:28 AM
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It's sweet! You won't be disappointed! I was pleasantly surprised by the thickness of the glass - it's all pretty heavy duty with the exception of the doors - not that they need any additional heft since they are not load bearing.
Great! I'm used to heavy duty glass. (my one foot cube has 4 mm glass )
Did I miss rock wall one? or was it #2 that I missed?
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Old 01-04-2009, 05:34 AM
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Did I miss rock wall one? or was it #2 that I missed?
This was #1
http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/mem...rock-wall.html

This was #2
http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/mem...tml#post291562
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Old 01-04-2009, 05:43 AM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

ah, yes. I remember #1 now. They are all very nice
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Old 01-04-2009, 05:44 AM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

Thanks! I'm pulling everything I've learned on the previous two into this one!
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Old 01-04-2009, 05:55 AM
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Thanks! I'm pulling everything I've learned on the previous two into this one!
Sounds awesome. What plants are you going for?
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Old 01-04-2009, 06:39 AM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

I'm really not even there yet in my mind - planting is where I kind of fall apart. I really want to get some colorful neos this time. I definitely want to ensure that the rock wall /waterfall are visible through the jungle this time!
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Old 01-04-2009, 12:54 PM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

Home Depot carries the industrial strength velcro. I used it on my 120g. It held up good on the side that wasn't very heavy but the side that has the slate rock GS'd into the background is pulling away. The adhesive is pulling away from the velcro. Going to have to re-do that eventually.

Can't wait to see this one done. Your tanks always look good.
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Old 01-04-2009, 04:33 PM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

I'm working on a very basic rock water bowl at the moment... My first attempt with fake rock work. I used a non sanded grout, and I really like the workability of it. I tried to use a masonry cement, but even with the really small amounts of aggregate, it left a weird bumpy look.

Does pure portland cement have any aggregate in it?
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:49 PM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

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Does pure portland cement have any aggregate in it?
I don't think so. It's very powdery....almost like dust. I'm having great results just using sanded and non-sanded grouts. If I'm going for sharp detail and cleved looks then I use non-sanded. For more eroded and boulder-like displays I use the sanded.
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Old 01-04-2009, 09:29 PM
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Does pure Portland cement have any aggregate in it?
Nope. It's the consistency of flour. It's the stuff that you add the aggregates to. It's very smooth. You can add sand to it if you want the "sanded" look. It's really cheap too. I actually have most of a 50lb bag left from a previous home improvement project. I'm going to do a test with the Portland cement and do a small boulder to see how it turns out. I'll post my results here as well.
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:06 PM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

What do you think of the strength, or hardness of the portland cement? I might redo my rocks because they aren't as heavy duty as I'd like them to be
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:18 PM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

In theory pure cement is not as strong as it is mixed with sand. Without any filler it also shrinks a lot more when curing and drying. When doing multiple layers this may not be a problem, though.

Normal fine grout contains portland, filler sand (grain size smaller than 0,1 mm) and coloring.
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Old 01-05-2009, 01:42 AM
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have you guys ever used cement stains for coloring the rock features? I started out using the powdered cement pigments, but if it doesn't mix in completely it tends to rub off, it's also pretty hard to rub off to get that shadows in the cracks look. I've got some non toxic, acrylic craft paints that I'm going to experiment with next.

I'm also going to try to find some more colors of grout. I'm going to have to find a tile supply store or something like that because the color selection at the hardware was pretty limited.

I was curious about the concrete staining because I saw someone do a cement counter top and made it look very interesting with different shades and swirls like a random piece of rock might have. Just curious!
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Old 01-05-2009, 01:47 AM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

i can't wait to see this one!!
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Old 01-05-2009, 01:59 AM
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have you guys ever used cement stains for coloring the rock features? I started out using the powdered cement pigments, but if it doesn't mix in completely it tends to rub off, it's also pretty hard to rub off to get that shadows in the cracks look. I've got some non toxic, acrylic craft paints that I'm going to experiment with next.

I'm also going to try to find some more colors of grout. I'm going to have to find a tile supply store or something like that because the color selection at the hardware was pretty limited.

I was curious about the concrete staining because I saw someone do a cement counter top and made it look very interesting with different shades and swirls like a random piece of rock might have. Just curious!
Hi
I use stains coloor for my main structure for a paludarium I had before and I also used colors for land areas for scale trains (if you know wha I mean, sorry but I not sure how do you call that hobby), I used surface bonding cement and I mixed with concret bonding additive, I also cover the structure with concrete sealer, to stop any leaching for concret AND TO KEEP THE PH for the water in a normal level, you can check me journal here is the link: http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/beg...m-proyect.html
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Old 01-05-2009, 02:04 AM
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have you guys ever used cement stains for coloring the rock features? ... I've got some non toxic, acrylic craft paints that I'm going to experiment with next.
I've never tried it - i've only ever used the non-toxic acrylic paints. Cool site!
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:44 AM
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Melas, that is a great idea. I would be very wary of that ZM pump. I like alot of thier products, but we have a substantially higher return rate on the zoomeds small pumps than most anyother brand. The impeller shafts and wells are very low tolerance. They dont like running dry. Just a tip, not trying to be negative. If your ever looking for another tiny pump, the Maxijet microjet is a sick little guy that cannot be killed. I like our eggcrating, it is nice and neat. Making the wall outside should be so much easier, Im going to have to steal that idea for my next build, if you don't mind.
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Old 01-05-2009, 03:48 AM
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I like our eggcrating, it is nice and neat. Making the wall outside should be so much easier, Im going to have to steal that idea for my next build, if you don't mind.
I've done the eggcrating background on my last 4 builds. It is so much easier to work on and complete when you have full motion. You'll never go back once you try it.
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:53 PM
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Melas, that is a great idea. I would be very wary of that ZM pump. I like alot of thier products, but we have a substantially higher return rate on the zoomeds small pumps than most anyother brand. The impeller shafts and wells are very low tolerance. They dont like running dry. Just a tip, not trying to be negative. If your ever looking for another tiny pump, the Maxijet microjet is a sick little guy that cannot be killed. I like our eggcrating, it is nice and neat. Making the wall outside should be so much easier, Im going to have to steal that idea for my next build, if you don't mind.
Yeah I wondered about this pump - got it at That Pet Place - with my wholesale discount it was like $6 so I figured I'd give it a go. It actually says on the box that it can run dry for 30+ hours . . . haha! I'll keep an eye on it - I don't expect it to ever run dry as I'm planning on having several inches of water above the pump at all times - thanks for the heads up! I guess you get what you pay for! haha!
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Old 01-05-2009, 06:55 PM
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I've done the eggcrating background on my last 4 builds. It is so much easier to work on and complete when you have full motion. You'll never go back once you try it.
Yeah I suspect it WILL be much easier though it is somewhat limiting of the design - my last rock wall incorporated all 4 walls of the vivarium - something extremely difficult to pull off with this method - we'll see how it goes!

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Old 01-05-2009, 07:27 PM
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Yeah I wondered about this pump - got it at That Pet Place - with my wholesale discount it was like $6 so I figured I'd give it a go. It actually says on the box that it can run dry for 30+ hours . . . haha! I'll keep an eye on it - I don't expect it to ever run dry as I'm planning on having several inches of water above the pump at all times - thanks for the heads up! I guess you get what you pay for! haha!
Hey, for $6 you can't go wrong. It would not suprise me if one our vendor reps told me it will percipitate golden nuggets....lol.
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Old 01-06-2009, 02:09 AM
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Hey, for $6 you can't go wrong. It would not suprise me if one our vendor reps told me it will percipitate golden nuggets....lol.
Haha! Yeah that's kind of what I thought . . . I've paid more than that for replacement parts on other filters I've owned . . .
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Old 02-04-2009, 02:59 AM
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Just a small update -

here is my temporary work area - a card table with a sheet of plywood on top


here's the foam - straight from the dumpster


some sweet sculpting tools i picked up at lowes


detail of the pump "cage" - there is screen around five sides - i'm hoping this will keep the pump from getting clogged - should be very effective as I used multiple layers of screen thus seriously reducing the size of the holes in the mesh





shot of the "plumbing"


more to come!
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Old 02-04-2009, 04:23 AM
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Trash picker!...Trash picker!
Jk, I cant wait to see this come together...I love the other 2 rock tanks you did but this one should be even better then the last 2 especially if its going to have a water feature.
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Old 02-04-2009, 07:42 AM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

Looks awesome so far! I work at an A/V company and I'll be setting aside a ton of foam to work on my own based on how successful you and others have been with this method.

Keep us posted and thanks for all your hard work so far!

Cheers,
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Old 02-04-2009, 12:00 PM
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Trash picker!...Trash picker!
Jk, I cant wait to see this come together...I love the other 2 rock tanks you did but this one should be even better then the last 2 especially if its going to have a water feature.
umm we prefer the term DUMPSTER DIVER!

Yeah I'm pretty excited about the water feature myself!

I need to get some more pics up of my current progress. I have two "ponds" on the back wall. The water will flow into the first pond and then overflow into the second pond (about an 8" drop) and then from there it will flow to a gravel pit. There won't be any standing water in the pit - I'm still kicking around whether or not I will have any standing water visible elsewhere in the terrarium. It should be pretty cool though! I'm planning on a having java moss and riccia growing on the rocks in this area as it should remain relatively wet. The rest of the terrarium shouldn't be effected though - we'll see as it's hard to predict exactly where the water is going to go!
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Last edited by melas; 02-04-2009 at 12:01 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 02-04-2009, 12:16 PM
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Keep us posted and thanks for all your hard work so far!
Haha! Thanks! You act as if building these is a selfless act! haha!
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Old 02-08-2009, 02:21 PM
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Okay more progress!



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Old 02-08-2009, 07:48 PM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

Really looking good so far! How did you get the rounded shape to each of the "rocks"? Did you individually shape each piece or is there a faster way than what im thinking of?

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Old 02-08-2009, 07:58 PM
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Looking good. I am going to be following this one!
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Old 02-08-2009, 08:09 PM
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Really looking good so far! How did you get the rounded shape to each of the "rocks"? Did you individually shape each piece or is there a faster way than what im thinking of?

-Matt
Thanks! Yeah I cut each piece one at a time - this point represents about 6 hours worth of work . . . no one said this wasn't a painstaking process! When I'm done I'll take a torch to it to get some more random pits and textures.
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Old 02-09-2009, 02:40 AM
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Its looking good Matt...Reminds me of mine RIP lol
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Old 02-09-2009, 11:37 AM
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Its looking good Matt...Reminds me of mine RIP lol
Haha! Thanks! Yours will be resurrected soon enough! The foam is in the mail!
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Old 02-10-2009, 02:20 AM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

I was curious about about your curing process, if you were to do a desert themed terrarium using your techniques for say leopard geckos, would you still need to cure the rock for just as long? Just curious because it would be dry and not nearly as humid obviously and i did not know if the curing process was necessary because of the water leaching out harmful things and/or raising the ph? Thanks and any inputs are very appreciated...
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Old 02-10-2009, 02:49 AM
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I would say that no matter the application you'd want your concrete to be as hard/strong as possible so that it would be durable enough to last for years of enjoyment. Curing is merely the hydration process - this is necessary for the concrete to come to full strength. This I would recommend as it is done for sidewalks, walls, floors, etc in regular construction. What you will not need to do is the pH neutralization - ie: the vinegar solution as your Geckos do not have semi permeable skin like the frogs and their environments are much less humid! Just keep your concrete wet during the process and it will become quite strong - even as a relatively thin laminate. . .

here is a post that i described this process in detail - please let me know if you need additional information!

http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/par...tml#post308465

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Curing is one of the most important steps in working with concrete, because proper curing greatly increases its durability and strength. Concrete hardens as a result of hydration: the chemical reaction between cement and water. However, hydration occurs only if water is available. During the curing period-(five to seven days for conventional concrete) the concrete surface needs to be kept moist to permit the hydration process.

Neutralizing the pH of the concrete is especially important when using it in an amphibian enclosure. Portland cement (the binding ingredient in concrete) has an exceptionally high pH 13-14 and is very alkaline. When fully cured the pH tends to be more like 8-9 which is still way to high considering this is a logarithmic scale! The vinegar finishes the job by neutralizing the carbonates still in the surface of the concrete.

So they are related but are really performing two different functions. Curing = hardness and vinegar (acid) baths = pH neutralization.

Basically you need to keep the concrete wet for the first week. By combining the acid bath with the curing you can reduce your "down time" while working with the concrete.


http://www.dendroboard.com/forum/par...tml#post322797

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Hydration and hardening of concrete during the first three days is critical. Abnormally fast drying and shrinkage due to factors such as evaporation may lead to increased tensile stresses at a time when it has not yet gained significant strength, resulting in greater shrinkage cracking. The early strength of the concrete can be increased by keeping it damp for a longer period during the curing process. Minimizing stress prior to curing minimizes cracking. High early-strength concrete is designed to hydrate faster, often by increased use of cement which increases shrinkage and cracking.

During this period concrete needs to be in conditions with a controlled temperature and humid atmosphere, in practice this is achieved by spraying or ponding the concrete surface with water, thereby protecting concrete mass from ill effects of ambient conditions.

Properly curing concrete leads to increased strength and lower permeability, and avoids cracking where the surface dries out prematurely.

That said - I'm not sure how the the polymer mix would be effected by waiting until the first week of "wet" curing is completed to allow the concrete to dry out.

Depending on the polymers added, the curing time should be greatly reduced - polymer modified concretes can reach near full strength in a matter of hours - I don't know what you have exactly but it is probably okay for the application . . . it definitely wouldn't hurt to continue keeping it wet for a while even after you've allowed it to dry out. As a side note - I used a polymer modified floor leveling cement for my rockwalls - I kept them wet/damp for the entire process and my concrete is HARD!

Matt
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Last edited by melas; 02-10-2009 at 02:54 AM.
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Old 02-10-2009, 03:54 AM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

Thanks, that info was very helpful. I am picking up laticrete tomorrow and i will post pics later this weekend when i have something to show... I have three D. Reticulatus coming arond the first of March and in order to convince the girlfriend to lett me have more frogs, I promised her i would start on a new upgraded home for her two leopard geckos. They currently are in an 18x18x18 exo and will be moving into a massive 36x18x24 exo. Thanks again for the info, saved me a lot of time
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Old 02-13-2009, 03:23 AM
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Default Re: Rock Wall #3 - Now Modular!

Okay I'm done gluing pieces of foam. My fingers have been thanking me as the hot glue burns have not been agreeable as of late . . .haha. I still need to take a torch to it to get rid of some of the hard edges and add some pits.





Next step is the concrete! Woop woop!
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