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.
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,
The New Year bonfire was the first trial smelt of the year. I didn’t expect much from it and it wasn’t a great success, because the bonfire dropped through into the rock pool beneath it. It seemed a good way to celebrate the New Year though.
The photo is the wet remains when the bonfire had burnt out, a gift to the sea.