Countertops were the name of the game at a recent workshop sponsored by the Institute for American Craftsmanship in Eugene, Oregon.
Taught by Beto Esquivel, a master craftsman from Buddy Rhodes Studio, the two-day workshop offered its participants valuable experience in making precast and cast-in-place countertops, decorative concrete tiles and even concrete stools.
“This class has been really informative,” said Joe Geise, a contractor from Roseburg, Oregon. “It opens windows for us, because we get to see all the tricks Buddy’s learned over 25 years that make him good.”
Attendees got hands-on experience in every step of the process, from creating forms to blending the thick, integrally colored mix, pushing it into place by hand, reinforcing, troweling for a smooth finish, and sealing with a penetrating sealer and beeswax.
One of the most important benefits was the chance to learn how to duplicate Buddy Rhodes’ signature veined finish. “It’s a whole different technique from what I already knew about countertops,” said Kenny Sides, a contractor from Olga, Washington. “That gives it a whole different look.”
Buddy Rhodes Studio manufactures a complete line of products with everything needed to create countertops, whether precast or cast-in-place. “You take the product and just add water and color,” says Jim Mason, sales and marketing director for the mix product division. “This product is designed to simplify the process.”
The company has recently launched its reformulated countertop mix nationwide, with improvements that make the mix accept color better and that create a more vibrant, rich finish.
Buddy Rhodes has also recruited some of the top names in decorative concrete as distributors and trainers: Bob Harris and Bart Sacco on the East Coast;Wes Vollmer, Dana Boyer and Tom Ralston on the West Coast. “We’re trying to align ourselves with the best people in the industry,” Mason says. “Education is so key to the success of our product.”
Indeed, as the class drew to a close, Geise said he planned to ditch the countertops that he had experimented with at home and start from scratch using the techniques he had just learned. “Using the mix would make a very consistent product,” he said. “With the techniques these guys showed us, you can get the same finish every time.”
He wasn’t the only student who was impressed with the product. “This class was presented real well,” Sides said. “I’ve already been asking, ‘Where do I get the product and how soon can I get it?’”