Every so often we would get a call to something completely different. A party rental place in San Diego put out a call for some "Pier Pylons" for a Tiki Safari Beach theme party.
Even though we typically do just miniatures, many of the same faux finishing tricks can be used in full scale. Besides, we have the tools, talented people and plenty of space to work. It was a great way to mix and use up paint from previous projects and put it to good use.
We bought 12" diameter cylinders from a company that makes Styrofoam architectural elements for custom houses. We cut the ends off at an angle and rounded the top corners with hand saws. We threw some coals in the hibachi grill and heated up a couple of hatchets nice and hot. Then we would lay the hatchet on the Styrofoam and it would just melt right into it, then wiggle it while slowly dragging it down the cylinder. As it cooled it wouldn't gouge as deep until it finally cooled to the point that it wouldn't gouge at all. Then we just put it back in the hibachi and switch off to the other hatchet. That kept the look very random and organic.We bonded them together with silicone caulk adhesives and then scenic painted them. The drop off pieces we cut up into big rocks. The barnacles were just macaroni shells, the planks were a single "property for sale" sign we found (that guy probably never figured out why his land never sold). We cut jagged lines into it with a jig saw that looked like individual boards. The seaweed was florist lichen and the bird droppings were just globs of white bathtub caulk.
When the truck showed up to get it, they brought along several feet of 2"thick nautical rope that we wrapped around them. They came out great and the client was real happy. We figured that if someone went to put out a cigarette, it would just melt a hole right into it!