Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Burnt Out

After cleaning up any exterior casting that might contaminate the inner shell by scraping it with handtools and discarding it, the molds are ready for burnout. The furnace is heated up for about(15 minutes and then the sculptures are placed inside. Next, the shell and its interiors of wax (or other materials such as twigs, skewers or styrofoam) are heated beyond thier melting point to flow freely from the molds and fall into the large metal basin of water beneath the inferno. Done successfully this will leave behind intact hollow shells.

Flaming wax remnants are scooped out of the Metal basin so as to prevent buildup and possible flareups. The really cool outfit is an added bonus. Next burnout I will remember to get a picture of myself to add to the collection.

The near finished lost wax shell is removed from the furnace after it has baked for 30 or so minutes. Before moving, it is allowed to cool off so it is no longer red hot but instead resembles spent ash. The lost wax cast is placed in the cooling rack where it awaits vaccuming and final cleanup with an air hose. Compressed air will be shot up through the cavities and remove sediment that might affect the final appearance of the sculptures once the molten bronze is poured into them and then cooled.

Next week - casting on thursday. Pictures to follow.

Crafty templates for those with free time to spare.

Because i do not have enough to do right now I was thinking i would create an interesting winter themed christmas card slash notice of change of address to send out this week. I am pondering using an interesting template from a site like the following.


Monday, November 19, 2007

On a side note

It will seem rather odd in retrospect to pop into this tiny parcel of my universe and see no reflection on day to day life as it is taking place at this moment - it is because of this that i make note of today as being one of the most amazing moments in my life. Just as tom couch jumped on oprah so does my heart leap about with silly love infused gleefulness. I am incredibly excited and thus far succeeding at not letting myself rein in the emotional bliss. I am living the dream - only it is a reality greater than i would ever have imagined. one day and a half until i hold in my hand the keys to our new home. Chaotic bliss is a wonderful theme.

Ready to proceed to the "lost wax" step in lost wax bronzecasting.

Tomorrow I am all set for burnout of my pieces. After several weeks of repetitive slurry dipping then rolling in the sand my pieces have gained enough weight and substance to move on to their next positions. First, they will be placed in an enclosed firepit then be toasted at extreme temperatures so as to lose their internal mass and become hollow forms. I have been told that it takes about 30-45 minutes for the wax and other debris to burn out.

Next week the hollow molds will be set to hang in midair while molten bronze is poured into their empty shells. Once it cools the exterior sand and solidified slurry will be gently chipped away with hammers and chisels so as to reveal the near final subjects of my affection.

The raw metal will be ugly and deformed in appearance i expect. It is only after the pieces have all their superfluos bits sawed off, are sandblasted and filed down that we will be able to see whether they are a success.

Seventh dip in the slurry

Layering the shell onto the wax sculptures

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pets & Earthquakes

My 7 year old Maine Coone, "Steve The Cat", attempted to alert me of the earthquake repeatedly in the ten minutes prior. I came home from working out just after 730 and went directly to the shower and change. Normally when i leave the shower, Stevie jumps in to play with the watertap and chase drips, instead - he followed me. Normally he has 4 things he demands of us vocally or with intense "follow me" body language and directives like nudging with his head and leading by walking a few feet until we follow along while directing us with the odd vocalization or meaow.

These four things are:

- to follow him to his food dish and to correct whatever dilemma he seems to believe needs correcting in regards to the fullness of said dish
- open a door for him to enter or exit or just stare out of momentarily while considering whether to enter or exit
- to pick him up to cuddle
- to turn on the faucet.

Just after 8 pm i had exhausted each of these options. I had tried to coax him into the tub to play with water while he just stood on his rear legs and stretched up to tap my elbows with his paws instead.

It was after dark so i never concede and let him out to play at night so that wasnt an option.

He responded to being picked up with a quick cuddle and then leaped out of my lap and persisted in the follow me directives of nudging mine and my partners legs as we sat at our desks in the office and tapping our arms with his paw.

When i attempted to follow him he went only so far as the hallway but showed no interest in going down the stairs to his food dish. As a rule, we never walk ahead of him or beside him for fear of being tripped - my family and I always follow behind instead - but tonight Stevie the cat wasnt going anywhere for us to follow him to.

This led me back to thinking he wanted water not food and i resumed trying to get him in the tub before standing finally in the hallway between bathroom and office. I stood there chatting with my other half - talking about the cats' odd behavior, mildly exasperated at how to entertain my darling goofy cat while he rubbed against my legs.

It was while i stood there in the doorway with my cat rubbing against my ankles that the room began to roll like a wave beneath my feet. He scooted under a table and while I shouted in sudden comprehension "earthquake!", my sweetheart ran into the doorway to stand with me.

In the silence following the tremor I succeeded in finding Stevie while he catnapped under the kitchen table downstairs. Seeing the logic in this I joined him for a few minutes of ear scratching and fed him a handful of kitty treats and apologized for being too dense to understand what he was telling us all along.

Slurry Dipping ( not to be confused with skinny dipping)

Today i did something unusual. Instead of wasting time wasting time - I moved forward and returned to the studio this afternoon to finish two of my sculptures and get them on their way.

A Frog in Toads Clothing & Voodoo are now safe on their way to that strange land where finished projects go. With a little luck and perseverence they will actually complete their journey and evolve from their wax forms into solid masses of bronze.

At some point in the future I am going to come up with some meaningful allusion to satisfy others when they ask why i created each of these items, but atm the fact is i made them for me myself and i.

I have no expectation of making my first bronze sculpture and its being a work of art. Rather, its expected and anticipated that any initial creations are more liable to be a laughed at pieces of crap that others mock with the expectation that you expect to be mocked and are also already in on the mocking and self torturous mind games of low self esteem.

I decided not to fall into that mangled mess of self loathing and disinterest that comes with belittling my own handiwork and so i struck out to make what i enjoy.

I have made 2 items which i expect might make it past the "buried in a cardboard box" stage of evolution. My frog will always be a frog to me, for i can see within his princely heart that he isnt a toad at all no matter what others say. And Voodoo has camouflaged himself so well that others believe he is an edible cookie rather than a symbol of energy and confidence. So be it. Fact is - i anticipate having Voodoo and Frog in toads clothing find places in my home and because of that I sculpted outside the box.

Today, frog and voodoo both found themselves raised in stature. They were elevated above wax cups on waxen rods that will form a series of channels. I then scurried on over to the lab and cleaned them each with dishsoap , airdried them - with would you have guessed it? - Air. Next, I sprayed them with car wax or its equivalent then dried them again with the airhose.

Finally i Dipped each wax sculpture into a large caked tub filled with a lovely yellow slurry. Thus began the process of creating their first coat of their future outer shell. Each sculptue will be dipped repeatedly and slowly over a period days or weeks, depending on how often i get over there to do it. The great part is they are at least on the way. Now i have to start on another project... this time something filled with empathy and emotion that counters the happy bits i have already made.