Returning to Stone to Bowl:- The photo shows wax melt out and mould firing in the chimney furnace
Once the wax models have been made and sprued they are then dipped in a slurry mix of clay (this time from Kingsbarns,) sand (Cellardyke beach) and fibre (horse poo from near Kilrenny). Earlier posts explain the process for preparing the clay and horse poo for those who are interested.
This photo shows the wax fingers after a first dipping.
There are two mixes, one is fine and the early coats are done in this and the other is coarser to build up the outer layers. The fine dip uses Holger Lonze’s dip recipe. Each layer has to dry before the next layer is added.
When the mould is built up a clay funnel is added.
The moulds are then ready for the wax to be burnt out.
I make my models using beeswax from a beekeeper who lives near St Andrews. She and her bees make lovely wax that smells delicious and is just right for making models.
I started small but wanted to make fine models to challenge the techniques. I made finger tip rings by dipping my fingers in the melted wax. These then need to have pouring stalks added (sprues). They are then ready to be dipped in the clay mix to build up the mould.
After successfully casting finger tip rings I moved on to small bowls which were made by dipping clay bowls in wax and adding pouring stalks.
A bit of a leap forward in time. These are the first pieces cast in copper from beeswax lost-wax models dipped in clay mix. I’ll explain the process more later.
The finger tips are a simple development of the work that I was doing in Munich and were a good test of the process, being very fine but also small. I like that they are handmade by me for my hands; and exemplify the whole process- having been made using environmentally-friendly, traditional processes.
The surface finish is pitted, but I like this and I plan to make more. It would be fun to do a community finger project.
Takako Selway and I will do some filming of the process for her film about “Hands Making”
This photo shows the difference between a two-part sand mould and an open pour. The level of detail on the two part mould is far greater than on the open pour.
I had read that this was the case, but I’d not experimented myself previously.
Both pieces are ‘my-smelt’ copper with silver alloy, cast in oil sand. The piece on the right is made in a two-part mould. The piece on the left I heat-patinated after I’d cleaned it up. Both are from the same former, which is an Edwardian mourning brooch. I will make the more detailed piece into a necklace; the open pour piece is too heavy to wear, but is very tactile.
The second casting that I did with my first-smelt copper produced the ‘Manx cat’, a mouse, a pudding charm of the Christ child and two partial shells.
The mouse and the pudding charm were the more successful pieces. I have ordered a different kind of casting ring for the shells, to see if that is more successful. The shells are too fine for a conductive metal like copper, which tends to cool before completing the mould.
It is exciting using metal that you have ‘made’ yourself.
Some of the copper that I smelted at the Sculpture workshop was not very pure. By hammering it I was able to get rid of much of the impurities ready to alloy with silver and melt for casting. I think that this was the first time that I used this blacksmiths hammer and my rather rusty anvil/