Italian Block – 2019 catch up

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This goes back to May 2019 at the Sculpture Workshops. I would normally blog when the piece is finished, but things are on hold at present.

I discovered Italian block (thanks Eden) and made the beeswax model (above) for the main part of a commissioned piece remembering the heroes at Dunkirk and La Panne. The design is based on a torpedoed submarine in the Imperial War Museum in London.

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I made a clay model and then took a beeswax cast from the clay. The top photo is the wax cast which has been sprued (adding runners for the metal, risers for escaping air and a funnel for pouring in the metal)

The italian block is made by making a flask of chicken wire around the wax, which is stood in pouring position in the flask.

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This is draped in hessian soaked in plaster to form a plaster flask surrounding the wax,

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The flask is then filled with the plaster mixture to create a solid block around the wax and dried.

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The block mould is then heated slowly in a kiln overnight to melt out the wax and fire the plaster mix.

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The mould is ready to be poured whilst still hot, so that it doesn’t fracture with the shock of the molten metal. This piece was poured at the end of May.

This traditional method can be used for bronze, silver and lower melt metals, but not for iron.

The Sculpture Workshop is reviewing its safety procedures and stopped all Italian block firing in summer 2019, pending the outcome of this review. Plans are in hand to remodel the metal workshops and I hope that when this happens I can explore Italian block further. I really like the method as offering great scope for design whilst being pretty sustainable and low tech.

 

 

iron lintel – the story continues

I spent several days fettling and chasing the iron lintel and cutting off bits that weren’t required. Eden (Senior Tech SSW) assisted with this process – giving advice and moving the piece around for me. He also finalised an ingenious scheme for affixing the piece at its final location.

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The lintel just fitted into my van and with further ingenious thinking from Eden it was stowed in a manner that I would be able to get it out by myself (or at least with one other)

I took it over to Stoer and we unloaded it. Unfortunately the weather was changing so the noble lintel moving team called off moving it to the broch that day, but they got together later to carry it in. My heart-felt thanks to them.

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We now await a decision on the final location so the lintel can be installed at the broch site where it belongs,

Puppets in Prague

A slight diversion into different material – wood. Loyal followers will recall that I have made marionettes in the past at the Prague workshop of Mirek Tretnjar. This spring I went back to Prague to make a family puppet theatre and the puppets and scenery for a production of the Snow Queen.

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Family theatres are a tradition in the Czechia (remember the Sound of Music and the Lonely Goatherd, yes I know not Czechia). Above is an example of a family theatre.

pipworkshopThe workshop took us through the marionette carving, scenery painting, theatre painting, Marionette dressing and using the marionettes to tell our story. Above is a photo of the workshop with everyone working.

It was a fantastic group of talented people and I negotiated a jewellery commission which I’m so looking forward to making.

pipgangStarting with four blocks of wood, I carved the heads of my four puppets for a show based on the Snow Queen. Other blocks were carved for the hands, shoes and legs. Everything was then painted and clothes made. Mirek Trejtnar, the workshop leader, assembled the puppets and they were ready for the theatre. Lots of people helped and advised, including Marcella, Vaclav and Sota.

For some reason I can’t upload any puppet photos, above is a photo of some of the puppet artists at leisure.

It took a week to get the puppets almost complete. We then moved on to making the theatre. Dora and Svetlana helped plan and develop the performance. I was really pleased with the final family-story telling performance that we devised. I’m looking forward to sharing it with my grandchildren for their fourth birthday. Hopefully they will enjoy doing their own performances soon.

Iron lintel – mould making continues

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The silicon mould and plaster mother mould that I took on the headland at Clachtoll made it safely to the Scottish Sculpture Workshop for the next stages.

Firstly I re-constructed the plaster mould so that I had one complete cradle for the silicon. Then I pinned the silicon into the plaster support mould and coated the inside of the mould with wax. I stippled the first layer on to capture the detail and and subsequent layers were brushed on to build up a firm mould a centimetre or so thick (thicker at the top edge) I then built the wax up as far as possible to remove undercuts on the inside.

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I removed the wax wax from the silicon ready to start taking the resin-bonded sand mould.

I built a temporary box and used petrobond sand to build up the base to the wax. I did not do a good job on this, so had to make extra mould pieces at the penultimate stage (note to self to do better next time).

The resin-bonded sanded is mixed and rammed into the box around the wax, taking care to avoid undercutting.

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When the top part of the bonded sand mould was complete the whole box was turned and the ‘rescue pieces’ added. The base of the mould could then be made.

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This makes a particularly uninspiring photo (above), but it over took a week to get there.

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The mould came apart as planned and was built up into the base and the top parts. I cleaned the joins: Michael (SSW’s assistant technician) helped with the core wash; I found the bars to hold it closed and Eden (SSW technician) working with George Beasley drilled the pour holes and air vents; the piece was moved outside; the cracks were glued; the pour cups glued on; the clamp bars put on and it was ready to pour.

Unfortunately I only have video footage of this stage so I can’t show it. The next post will show the pour.

Sea drift necklace II

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The sea didn’t bring me the witch stone direct, it’s from a beach in New Zealand; the glass bead is from Czech Republic and the dolphin charm is obviously a Firth of Forth dolphin. Just putting together some individual pieces for ENOS 2019 which are sort-of sustainable as I’m not buying new stuff.

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.

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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.

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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.

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

Bob Ebendorf at West Dean

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)

coldfixingleafskyThis 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.

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It was quite a challenge to get the piece balanced as the bronze artefact is heavy, so I pinned some lead into the tubing.

 

Stone to Bowl model making

waxfingersprued 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. stonetobowlJuliaCowieThese then need to have pouring stalks added (sprues). They are then ready to be dipped in the clay mix to build up the mould.

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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.

 

The allure of copper – Stone to Bowl

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Alongside the traditional copper casting project I have done a copper/silver cast; using plumber’s copper and silver.

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and two-part sand moulds. This is partly sustainable, with all materials being recycled; but the heat used is gas.

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One of the pieces sold unfinished at ENOS 2018. The bowl has a metal ‘pebble’ inset, a blue heat patina and is almost clean copper on the exterior because I used a different greensand on the outside.

Some learning – try different sands to give cleaner surfaces but retain textures, cost in the silver, keep experimenting, copper is an attractive metal although challenging to work with.