Wade Gallery and Fisher Gallery Summer Exhibitions

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However, if you want to see my work there are several pieces at the Wade Gallery in Elie, as shown above. The Wade Gallery opens at weekends until August 18th.

Jan and Richard at the Fisher Gallery have re-opened for the Pittenweem Arts Festival and have several pieces of mine in a silver copper alloy and in iron.

So although I’m not at showing at Pittenweem Arts Festival this year there is an opportunity to see and buy my work in the East Neuk over the festival period.

Keny, Fraser and Nicola are also at other venues this year.

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East Neuk Open Studios 2019

2019’s open studios has been and gone. The weather was lovely and lots of people visited; and several people bought pieces or commissioned new work.

flower

Commissions included a charm bracelet as a gift for a niece in Canada, which included a dolphin from the Firth of Forth; and a neck piece using an piece of carved peat that was a brooch from my childhood. I’ll show progress on this piece in a later post.

bronzeseabowlA sea water patinated bowl went to a new home as did a sea drift necklace.

sea drift 3

It’s always good to show people my work and studio and I particularly like new commissions.

Clachtoll broch proposed iron piece

Finally I got a weather window to start work on the second piece of my residency.

linteltent1We got a tent erected near to the broch, in the lee of the stones from the rockfall in the broch that the restoration project removed in season one. It was surprisingly easy to heave the stone lintel into the tent on Day 1 and surprisingly uncomfortable working in and out the tent. A lot of climbing in and out bent double and kneeling on uneven rocks was involved over the week. Some days were sunny and some grey and cold, nearly all were windy, with the wind battering the tent onto you as you worked.

tentStoer

So the process was:- firstly brush the bits off, then a layer of oil, which with hindsight was a bad idea; followed by a thin mix of silicon to pick up the details – because of the low temperatures and maybe insufficient mixing of the catalyst this seemed determined to follow gravity onto the groundsheet. However there was no choice but to continue, this time with a silicon layer with thickener. By then it was time to call it an end to Day 2. Although there were plans to return that night it was Day 3 that was spent putting on the third and final silicon layer with thickener. There was now a mighty fine silicon mould, but no way of knowing whether layer 1 had worked out.

siliconlayer

Day 4 was onto the plaster and jute mother mould. I had a long and supportive conversation with the super helpful guy from Special Plasters before starting out. The first layer again seemed determined to make a mould of the ground sheet, but then we discovered that it was going off in the plaster puddles and this mix was perfect for the jute layers. I was paranoid that I’d make a plaster mould that couldn’t be removed, or carried out over the beach cobbles, so I designed a 6 part mould. I made little clay walls for each section and we filled them with three layers of plaster soaked jute with support straps.

lintelplaster1poolWhen I removed the clay wall on each piece I oiled the surface and designed a wedge to ease the separation of the sections. After the third section there was a mishap with the scales and we swapped for a different set. This seemed to hugely improve the consistency of the plaster from there on; and the job speeded up because there was no need to wait for the pools on the groundsheet to go off. The number of sections meant that the work went on into Day 5.

siliconremoveHowever the plaster mould came off in sections as planned. Then the moment of truth, would the silicon mould have laminated, would the first layer have been successful? It was an anti climax, but a very welcome one, when it just lifted off and there it was, the first phase of a long process successfully completed. Perseverance paid off and I came away with a silicon mould that nestles in a plaster mother-mould.

Clachtoll Broch residency

I went back to Assynt for a week in May; and the weather was kind, so lots of work was done.

With the invaluable help of Nigel Goldie, we got the Community Bronzes installed in the bedrock around the Clachtoll broch. A lot of lugging in and out of generators, drills, glue and the bronzes themselves was involved. I had agreed which rocks were outside the historic area, but on land where we had permission, and Nigel did the drilling and glueing.

bronesClachtoll1I’m hoping that they will weather and patinate over the years, I started the patination process with sea water and beeswax resist. They are mainly on the Stoer approach, but there are a few on the Clachtoll side. So if you are on the site do try and find all forty four of them.

The main group of thirty-five include all the ones designed and carved in beeswax by the Clachtoll school pupils at a workshop in the Glen Canisp art studio. They also did pewter casting in sand, the same process as Iron Age casters would have used, and which I used for these bronzes (although in updated materials). Please refer to earlier posts for more on the bronzes.

Thirty five is the estimated size of the extended family group who lived in the broch at any one time. The design choices reflect the range of ages and interests of the people involved, a local community working together.

bronzecombCan you find the bone comb? Maybe a plan of the broch? A panda or a Pod?

It’s a great collection of designs and styles and I hope it’ll give visitors to the broch pleasure, stimulate ideas and trigger narratives; celebrating the local community and the people who have been involved in the broch project.

Perhaps some people will think of the metalwork and how the broch residents will have traded for cast bronze products, even if they didn’t smelt and cast bronze themselves.

bronzebee

Iron Age bronze working

We had such fun at the final public event for the Clachtoll Broch project.

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Uist Corrigan (who is now at Edinburgh College of Art) joined me and some local folk and volunteer archaeologists. (That’s Uist keeping an eye on the furnace)

recording

We had the bellows from SSW and built the furnace using local clay, sand and horse dung.

bellowsglencanisp

glencanispfurnaceaWe had some local charcoal courtesy of Chris (although most of it came from the Chinese wholesalers in Dundee). Heather Fulton took loads of photos, some of which I’m using here.

We started before dusk and did the final copper smelt of the project.

Katbellowsglencanisp

Just about everyone helped with the bellows, it’s not so easy, but it’s sociable, thanks all who joined in.

We cast the two community bronzes which were lost wax cast.

meltoutglencanisp

This is burning out the wax.

lostwaxpour

Pouring the bronze and, below checking out the crucible for the next pour.

lostwaxstu

One of the bronzes was a bear foot print, designed by Bill.

bearBZBill

I had spent the previous week preparing the waxes, adding runners and risers and then  dipping them in a clay slurry mix to build up layers of mould which was then finished by enclosing in a cob clay with a pouring funnel.

waxdipclachtoll

We kept the furnace going (and the bellow workers) to pour the last bronzes – One closed oil sand 2-part mould, an open sand box with local sand and clay mix; and a closed 2-part mould (although we ran out of bronze in the end)

furnacesandmould

Most people went up to hear Gordon’s talk, but I’d promised Mandy Haggith that we’d try a copper alloy. So we switched to the hand blower to melt the copper, including from the local smelting, and added some tin grain to get a very local bronze alloy.

The open sand mould was Roz’s bird over waves design; and the closed one Stuart’s panda:-

The next morning I said goodbye to the Art Studio for 2018 and headed back to my studio to finish the final bronzes.

studio

My thanks to everyone for making the Clachtoll broch art project such good fun.

Clachtoll Art Project – Bronze community sculpture

The other piece that I’ve been working on is a community sculpture.

Eighteen children from Lochinver primary have prepared designs and tried their hand at wax carving using local beeswax.

waxtreeschooli

Most of the children also did sand piece-moulds to cast metals beads which we then made up into nettle-stringed necklaces. Thank-you to the people who supported me with this workshop.

waxtreeschool

I then cleaned up the waxes so that they would cast well; and using the same method as the children (2 part sand moulds), I cast the first sixteen mini sculptures in bronze. I have been cleaning these – cutting of the running system, filing them back, sanding and polishing them.

waxschoollk

The Ullapool High school children who came to the broch helped run a copper smelt. The copper from that smelt was added to the bronze used for these mini sculptures. The high school pupils also cast pewter pieces using clay models that they had designed themselves.

The community sculpture has been growing with local people making mini sculptures.

groupmouldiiAt a public event on Stoer field we smelted some more copper, which will be used in casting these waxes in bronze (thanks, Nigel, Fiona and Boyd)

Many of the dig volunteers and other people involved with the broch have added their designs, so I have a further 24 waxes cleaned and prepared for casting.

publicsmelt

The discussion on where they may be installed continues, but I hope they can be affixed to bedrock in a safe place near the broch.

The final public event at Glen Canisp on 16th November 2018 will be to cast the final waxes for the sculpture (including copper from the public smelt). We also have a special request to demonstrate the alloying of copper with tin to give bronze. I hope to have more details of the event planning soon.

 

Stone to Bowl grand finale

Last week was my final week of work at Scottish Sculpture Workshop on my VACMA funded Stone to Bowl copper project.

It focused on getting the bellows organised so that I can work anywhere in the landscape. Monday was spent fixing the blower which had arrived fractured. Eden Jolly did most of the work as it involved tig welding, but I did the cleaning of the joins and offered cups of tea. Eden and Fleur (an Erasmus student) made it a super wee base and I went to Portsoy to get it some flexible tubing. fanblowerSept18By Wednesday all was ready to return to copper smelting trials. The smelt balls tend to over heat in the shaft furnace as it’s hard to see what is going on.

smeltfurnaceSept18

So on Thursday I dug a pit furnace and trialed that smelting with great success.I got 35gm copper from 50gm ore in 30 minutes and using about 2kg of charcoal.

smeltballSept185i

On Friday it was time to trial the bowls mentioned in the project title. This was using ore I’d smelted alloyed with 10% silver. The photo shows the open mould after casting. The copper did not complete the pour. I need to redesign the bowls with a thicker base. Even after heating the moulds and with sling casting, the copper would not stay molten in such a thin walled vessel.

slingSept18i

Spending 4 weeks developing processes and tools has been brilliant and the work goes on.