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

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Seaweed necklaces

seaweed3

This year I’m making jewellery for Open Studios and Pittenweem Arts Festival using what I think I’ll call ‘sea-drift’. The seaweed on which the design is based was storm-cast on the beach.  These ‘mermaid’ necklaces are saw pierced silver, hammered and formed. Two have moonstone drops and are oxidised, I have sent these to VAS ALIGHT 2019 in Edinburgh.

seaweed1i

Iron Age bronze working

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

furnaceboyd

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.

 

Clachtoll Broch – rock and fallen rock

lintelsfallenMy first impressions of the broch were of the majesty of the stonework and the rock bed that it is built on; and of the disorder of stones that had been part of the broch which fire, sea and time had scattered.

berrock

The bedrock falls to the sea and some of the stones from the broch have fallen this way. The archaeologists say that the broch collapsed in on itself , because the slope of the bedrock made the construction unstable. The recent work on the broch has included structural support and repair to the lintels to re-stabilise the building without embellishment. The work also included moving tonnes of fallen rock from within the building. This was all done by hand as there is no vehicular access to the site.

The stone double wall of the broch that once towered above the surrounding landscape has been in ruins since the time of Christ.

brochentrance

This mini re-cap gives some of the reasoning behind my decision to create an iron piece that is cast from one of the lintels at the site. It is still not certain that I will be able to do this this season as the weather seems to have turned autumnal, but that is the plan. I’ll keep you posted.

brokenlinteli

Stone to Bowl

bloweri

Finally the hand cranked forge blower has arrived. This is hopefully the last piece of the Stone to Bowl project. The forge blower will deliver air to the furnace, powered by hand rather than electricity. I’ll find out next month at SSW if it can be made to work. If the bellows can be hand powered it means that I can work anywhere,

day7smeltblower

This is the model we hope to replicate.