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. By 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.
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.
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.
Spending 4 weeks developing processes and tools has been brilliant and the work goes on.
I’m just back from a week learning about clever ways of making jewellery without soldering. Professor Ebendorf led the workshop and was generous with sharing his skills and knowledge of jewellery making and working with found objects. Cold connections are particularly useful when working with found objects (as well as enamel pieces)
This piece uses broken glass from the beach, but treats it as something precious. It also has a piece of mixed metal that I made at Alchimia and formed into a tube; and nettle yarn which has an Iron Age feel to it.
It was quite a challenge to get the piece balanced as the bronze artefact is heavy, so I pinned some lead into the tubing.
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.
This is one of my favourite 100 days pieces so far. It’s a neckpiece using a piece of brass from the beach, drilled and threaded on a glass and silver bead necklace. The glass beads are from Togo and were waist beads that my daughter brought back. The colours are just right for the patina on the beach find.
I did a wonderful workshop at Peter Bauhuis’s workshop. A different casting technique (lost wax), an opportunity to work with different alloys and forms and a generous and expert teacher. This finger ring is in 800 silver and emerges from casting with this great surface patina and texture.
These little bowls are shibuishi, copper and argentium; in a style influenced by Peter’s work. This is the first time that I have cast argentium. I also now know the secret of successful copper casting.
This photo is of Peter sprueing up some wax pieces, below is his bench peg.
This copper ring, made from a twist of wax wire dipped, came out of the casting process with this lovely patina and texture. It already has a new owner.