By Ted Uram
The Decorative Concrete Decision
When real estate was booming, all was well in the Battles household. But having two breadwinners in the same industry can sometimes backfire. In the case of Dion Battles, it hit home in a big way.
“Both my wife and I were in real estate,” Dion says. “Then the industry tanked. It came time for me to go out and get a job paying eight-dollars an hour or branch out into something new.”
With a prior background in construction, as well as airbrush work in the automobile industry, Dion felt it was time to make a positive change. It was time for something new.
“I’ve always kind of been an artist,” Dion says. “So we looked at our market, saw what we did not have, and decided to dive into it.”
What Dion dove headlong into in the small town of Nampa, Idaho is the field of decorative concrete. In Dion’s case, vertical concrete was the niche he decided to fill.
Vertical decorative concrete differs from traditional horizontal concrete (known as flatwork) in that it deals primarily with vertical surfaces. If you’ve ever been to Disneyland, or any other large theme park, you’ve seen lots of it. And in Dion’s case, he not only wanted to do vertical concrete, he wanted to do “themed” concrete.
Themed decorative concrete is bold and brilliant, often mimicking natural stonework, boulders and stressed wood. It is colorful and vivd, and when it’s done properly, it can be downright spectacular.
“This industry gives me an opportunity to create a positive change in people’s lives and put a smile on their faces,” Dion adds.
One such environment sits outdoors at the Nampa High School. What started as a request for a bid for a veteran’s memorial resulted in Dion donating his work.
“The principal of the high school saw me doing some work across from City Hall,” Dion explains. “He walked over and asked me if I’d be interested in doing a veteran’s memorial. Is this something that you could do?”
Dion worked with the school to develop a plan for something interactive, and that also served a purpose. The net result is what follows:
Dion welded up the armatures at home and then hauled them out and placed them on site. He used the mortar sprayer from MortarSprayer.com to apply all of the scratch coat. The carve coat was hand applied, shaped and then colored using a combination of waterbased stains. A final coat of protective UV sealer finished the job.
“They were really happy with the finished product.” The memorial was opened to the public and dedicated on Veteran’s Day, 2011.
Dion was, and still is, not completely alone in his venture. He has some folks to thank, in particular, Thom Hunt of Big Bamboo Studios and Nathan Giffin with Creative Rock Forming. Under their continuing tutelage Dion is able to hone his skills even further.
“Nathan works in Chicago and Thom works out of Nebraska,” Dion explains. “I was lucky enough to be able to work side by side with both of them, and I wholeheartedly believe that these gentlemen are two of the best in the world.” Dion is eternally grateful for their guidance, and still partners up from time to time. “I’m good friends with both of them now.”
Vertical Concrete Creations does a variety of vertical decorative concrete work in around Nampa and the Boise area. The majority of their work includes themed environments that incorporate rock and stone work, boulders, slabs and a variety of unique surfaces. Imagine transforming your home or business into an old world environment, an ancient ruin, a castle motif, or a rock-wall cave. Through the “carving” of his decorative concrete surfaces, Dion says he can achieve all sorts of looks you just can’t get anywhere else.
“No more looking down on concrete,” Dion says. “I want homeowners and building contractors to realize that there are so many different methods and opportunities to use concrete that no one’s even imagined.”
Keep an eye out for Dion’s work showing up in Boise, Idaho. You can visit his website or contact him at:
“Artistry in Concrete”
Vertical Concrete Creations, LLC.