Friday, December 23, 2011

Wax Chasing & Lessons learned

I worked on the first two wax castings of "Ascension". The folks at Art Castings were very helpful and Mac did some good work on the chasing. However, he was working blind, as he got her in pieces and had no real idea how she went together. Can't imagine doing that! So I learned that it's a good idea to provide a series of photos for them to work from.

Another issue was that there was some confusion over how the bronze was to be mounted onto the base. Since they didn't have a photo, they thought it was one way and realized that there wouldn't be enough metal to support the floating woman.  In reality, there was, mounted the way I had planned. So I had to go back and carve out all the wax that they had added.

Never worked with wax before so after a few hours at the foundry, I decided to pack her up and take back to my studio, since it was taking longer than I thought. You can see my desk with the various tools. The hot tool that is plugged in on my desk proved much too hot to use on the sculpt much. It vaporized the wax and melted much too aggressively to be much use to me. So I kept it on and placed my metal tools on the hot tool to heat the metal carving tools. That worked much better, overall.

It still took many hours, but that is mainly due to my inexperience and I'm sure it will go much faster next time. I may even chase the entire wax next time to gain even more understanding of the practice and to familiarize myself with what casts easily or harder to incorporate into my next sculpt. After finishing her up I took her back to Art Castings. Luckily for me, Jeanne too a look at the photoshopped image I had made explaining the mounting process - she didn't think it would work - that the stone would chip!

So I buzzed over to the Base Shop and spoke with Brian. Thanks to Brian and Jeanne, we were able to come up with a solution that will enable me to mount the sculpture as I had planned, with a bit of extra effort, and another lesson learned!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Finishing ceramic clay portrait of Harriet Tubman

 Harriet was very inspiring to sculpt. I took longer than I needed because I tried out different sculpting techniques from very impressionistic to fairly tight. I have to say that I really liked the looseness of the impressionistic version - so full of energy. However, as she neared completion the strength of her personality and her face competed with the strong strokes of the very loose version.

So I continued to refine until I felt that I struck a balance of free strokes and polish. The clay is a very heavy, firm, groggy clay called Chestnut that I got at Mile Hi Ceramics. It's an interesting clay to work with but the heavy grog can be a bit sandy to work with. I find that the grog (sandy, pebbly particles that add body and strength to a clay while reducing shrinkage rate when firing) comes to the surface when using sponging or brushing with water on the surface. However, if you push on the surface using wood or metal tools or pallets, the grog is pushed deeper into the clay and the surface is smooth - or at least smoother. I found this to be an interesting combination as I burnished a few areas where the skin would be most taught, giving a tighter, more light-reflective property to the clay and leaving the more textured, groggy clay for other areas. Very tacticile

This portrait bust of Harriet Tubman was very satisfying to sculpt. I plan on doing a 3/4 figure of her soon and the bust was a way of getting familiar with her face and features before expanding into more of the figure later.

She'll need to dry for a while before firing, so that won't take place until sometime in January.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wax pour for "Ascension" Bronze casting

It was quite foggy this morning and I nearly postponed my drive down to Art Castings in Loveland. But, since I'd already filled my travel mug with hot tea and charged up my camera, I decided not to wait and I'm quite glad!

When Jeanne greeted me, she knew just where my work, "Ascension", was in the maze of other sculptor's molds and waxes. They had just poured the first two waxes and Mac was starting to chase them.

In the montage photo:

1) collection of rubber molds inside the mother-mold

2) the mother mold encasing the rubber like a clamshell

3) you can see that the rubber comes out of the shell

4) the mother mold seams together tightly

5) hole where the wax is poured in

Here are some photos of the hollow wax that was poured. Mac is working on taking out imperfections in the wax. He will also fix where the armture came through. When he reaches a certain point in the process, they will call me and I will head down to spend the day doing finish chasing and detailing until I am satisfied before preparing the wax for the bronzing process.

You can see the whole process of making a bronze at the Art Castings site

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Harriet Tubman Sculpture Portrait Demo

 Sorry so slow to post....this is from a week or more ago. I let the clay firm up some more and then cut off the top of Harriet Tubman's head to continue hollowing out more. The clay is quite heavy and thinner walls fire better taking some of the excessive weight out of the finished sculpture. As I sculpt and make changes, I can add on a lot of additional clay. When I feel the portrait getting heavy I know it's time to hollow again.

By lifting the sculpture up, I can feel not only the increased weight, but where the weight is. That allows me to target an area for additional hollowing, which keeps the piece centered. Something you'll want to keep in mind when the piece is fired and ready for professional mounting..

Here I am repairing the area that was sliced off to gain access to the interior for hollowing. After putting the piece back together, I carve out a section of the join, add more slip, then some fresh clay.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Harriet Tubman Ceramic Portrait Bust Demo

 Here is an update on Harriet's progress. I let her rest over the weekend after having hollowed her out. She was a bit over-dry when I checked this morning, so I've soaked some cloth to drape over the driest parts and misted well before beginning work again.

I can see I've got to work on the symmetry a bit more, but she is making progress. I intend for the surface to retain a lot of looseness and energy, so the challenge will be to bring it to a level of completion that pleases me and stopping before I overwork her. Estimated time to date: 5 hours.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hollowing out a ceramci portrait bust

 One of the things that must happen when working in ceramic, or water-based clay, is that the piece must be hollow before firing. I find that many times when I'm working on a piece, the clay tends to shift or perhaps I change the angle of the neck or something to create more tension or drama.

The results are that the piece can become very thick in some areas and fragile and thin in others. This was the case with my Harriet Tubman bust. The addition of all the clay to the back of her head holding her scarf was pulling on the sculpt and I was supporting it with wood while it stiffened up.

At the same time, the neck area near the clavicle was quite thin.

So, although this piece wasn't at the leather-hard stage, I decided to do a preliminary hollowing early. The clay is still very soft and wet, so very easily distorted. First, I took my wire tool and cult through the sculpt. Then I removed the newspaper that I already
had in there.It was easy to see just how thin parts of the neck here - it was clear that it would have been fragile to continue to sculpt. After I separated the two halves, I lead them on foam covered with plastic to cushion it pieces. Next, I used a wire loop and tool and carved out the excess clay. Thin areas, I built back up to make stronger.

Finally, I took a fork and poked holes throughout both halves, to reduce the change for air pockets and to facilitate even drying. Then scored both edges, added slip and filled the head cavity with shredded paper and reassembled the two pieces. I added the paper into the head because the sculpt is still quite wet and will be prone to distortion. I can remove it later through the opening at the bottom of the neck. After the clay rests a bit, I will continue with the sculpting.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Clay sculpture portrait demonstration Harrient Tubman

Making progress on Harriett Tubman bust study. This is at about the 3.5 hour mark. The clay is wet and heavy so I have sticks pushed into the heavy areas to help support while firming up. Once I'm fairly satisfied with the forms, I'll cut her up and carve out the interior to hollow out then reassemble to work on her some more.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ascension Figurative Sculpture is at the foundry! ~Lori Kiplinger Pandy's first bronze

After some delay, my sculpture, "Ascension" has been delivered to the foundry at Art Castings of Loveland! They will be making a multi-piece mold of her. Then they will cast her in wax. Next they'll chase the wax. After that, they dip her into plaster and sand many times over a period of a week or more. Finally they'll melt the wax out of the plaster shell, then pour in the molten bronze. After the bronze cools, they'll smash off the outer shell to reveal the bronze pieces.

Finally, they'll assemble the pieces and weld her back together and chase all the seams. Last of all they'll apply the patina, giving her the final colors and attach to her stone base. Each an every bronze sculpture will require this process:  from pouring the wax to attaching the base!

She measures approximately 10" tall (without base) by 15" long and 6" wide. She will be supported only by the fabric that drapes from her hips. The fabric will pool onto the base, flow over the edge of the base and onto the table."Ascension" will be an edition of 33 plus several Artist's Proofs. Number 1 of 33 has been pre-sold already!

If you would like to see the entire actual process of developing a bronze from mold-making to final patina, you can view the short video from Art Castings here.

 The entire casting process will take about 10-12 weeks. I have to study some patina choices but I have something very specific in mind and will post that soon.

I must say that I am very excited to finally have her at the foundry. Being somewhat OCD about my work, I have a hard time letting go ;-)

But I must say, I loved, loved, loved, sculpting her! Even when a mishap came along to destroy
her hand or her face, I had just as much fun sculpting her again as I did the first time. In fact, the sculpting itself was very rewarding and relaxing. The hardest part of this sculpture was learning about armatures and the ways of working with this particular medium, Jmac Classic Clay.

I learned so much from working on this sculpture and am looking forward to using that hard-won experience on the next piece.

Once the sculpture is final, I will release the retail price along with the new photos.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Juried into the Women Artists of the West

When you're in your studio, trying to keep up with deadlines, it's easy to let tasks slide. One of my goals this year was to join more professional organizations - it's a great way to grow as an artist. I've been an associate member of the National Sculpture Society and I am happy that I was just juried into the Women Artists of the West. Luckily I've been trying to use my task-manager more and was able to remember to get my application in before the deadline, as they only jury in new members once a year!

It's nice getting in to these organizations, but I haven't yet been active. My next goal is to take full advantage of what they have to offer, enter their shows and contests and get more involved - time to make a move from 'associate' to 'full' member in every sense of the word.

Sculpting on "Ascension" went so well last night that I was loathe to stop and turn in at 1:30am. I admit that I've been noodling on her for far too long - it's hard to declare done ;-). My goal is to have her at the foundry this afternoon or tomorrow morning - with new photos posted!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

At the Loveland Sculpture Invitational Show...

Sculpting is calming and freeing for me. So I brought my working in progress, "Ascension", to the show to give me something to do.

Thanks for Mr. Tom Carter for snapping a couple of pix while at my booth today!

"Ascension" is getting a nice reception from the patrons and I'm really excited about finishing her next week and taking her down to Art Castings of Loveland to start the bronze process.

In the mean time, I was happy to find a new home for "Hint of a Smile" today. She was purchased by a lovely lady from Texas. It was satisfying to see her pass my booth, pause and declare, "She's mine!" Makes one feel really good to have created something that she really connected with.

The show is amazing, of course I've known that from visiting it, but from an exhibitor's prospective, I can see that it is beautifully run and the volunteers are the best.

Looking forward to what tomorrow's show brings!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Patinas and bases

I didn't have enough time to set up and properly photograph the sculptures on their bases with the patinas prior to taking them to the show. But I did a rough shoot within 30 minutes, so while not great photos, at least it's something. Didn't get my white balance quite right but I will try to photo them later at my leisure...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jet lag and sculptures are not a good combination...

 Bummer.....I'm seriously exhausted, having just returned from Europe and having hubby and daughter sick. I picked up my little gymnast to pack her up for the auction at the Loveland Sculpture Invitational this weekend and dropped her.

While ceramic sculptures can be quite sturdy, this was a wicked drop. I wouldn't mind so much, but I was counting on donating her for the auction and I had just put had the sculpt mounted to this nice stone base. Well, I might be able to salvage the base for future use.

At least I didn't smash any others yet ;-)

I got the rest of them down to the show and will finish the final set-up tomorrow. Then I can post some photos of the booth at the show later.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sculptures mounted to bases!

Today I picked up 7 sculpts from the base shop. Finishing touches and photography in the morning, then heading down to Loveland to set up for the big show. If you're in area, you might want to swing by Sculpture Depot for their Art & Education Extravaganza. Lots to do, see and learn!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

After Italy...

left Lenno, Lake Como, Italy, probably a few pasta pounds heavier. Avoid was lovley and views more lovely! We rented a two bedroom apartment in Lenno and did a lot od walking and one full day of ferries between towns on the lake. Awe left a day early because we had scheduled our train too close for comfort with getting back to Zurich for our flight out.

good thing, as our travel day was not without problems. first problem is our complete lack of Italian! Second being our inexperience with trains. Long, long day...but back in Zurich. we'll see a bit of the city before catching our plane to Frnkfurt tomorrow and then back to Colorado.

looking forward to getting ready for the Loveland Sculpture Invitational show this week!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Enjoying the food in Italy

Left glorious Switzerland for Italy. We're in the Lake Como region. Sadly we've not been in any museums to see any sculptures. Since we don't speak Italian or know the region, getting around has been challenging. So we've concentrated on walking the beautiful alleyways and eating great food!

Also come to the conclusion that Mario Andetti was simply an average driver from Italy ;-)

Friday, July 29, 2011

European Vacation

I've been out od town we are one a long-awaited trip to Switzerland and will return just before the Loveland Sculpture Invitational show. The sculptures are all getting the bases made and will be ready when I return. I will be posting photos as soon as I get back...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Off to Switzerland!

My husband, daughter and I are enjoying a re ip to Switzerland & Italy for the next two weeks to celebrate our 50th birthdays, our daughter's 16th birthday & our 20th anniversary all in one year! Currently sitting I Frankfurt airport waiting for plane to Zurich...then off to interlaken tomorrow!

I did pull some verrrryy late nights getting the last two sculpts fired and all the Latinas done so that I could get them in for mounting the bases while I'm gone. Good thing, too, since I will be setting up at the Loveland Sculpture Invitational show only two a days after returning!

Wish I could have poste the new photos before we left, but
Completely out of time...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Small scale full figure gymanst in water based ceramic clay

 In order to help the clay firm up and dry out a bit - plus to make it easier for the sculpt to hold its own weight, I cut her up to hollow out more. Although I did use a small bit of newspaper to bulk out her core, I find that in sculpting and moving the position around, there areas can build up thick in some areas. Surprisingly, this one was pretty symmetrical.

I removed some more of the clay from the core and the pelvis region. Once the clay firmed up
more, I was able to reattach her and continue sculpting.

Today she was strong enough to remove from the prongs that had been supporting the weight and stand on her own. I am working on finalizing her now.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Small scale full figure gymanst in water based clay

Time to start a new sculpt. This one will be a gymnast. It's currently measuring close to 9" tall is being sculpted using ceramic paperclay (CT3).

I started this same sculpt a couple of days ago using Chestnut - a highly grogged terracotta clay. The first attempt sagged so much that she kept having the weight press down on her legs and squash them. The clay is stiff and I had trouble getting it to twist when I wanted to move her pose a bit.

So after a day of modeling, carving, adding and fighting with it, I smashed it up and returned it to the bag for use in another project another day. Then I immediately started her all over again in the ceramic paperclay. This is much lighter and holds its shape on such a small scale, so I'm glad that I scrapped the first. I got twice as far in half the time on the second attempt.

The sculpt has an 'exterior armature', profiled in Bruno Lucchesi's books. The Chestnut clay was heavy and kept pulling out of the two prongs that are holding her weight. The papercaly is holding up better, but it may still need an internal rod added to her leg from under the base after firing to support the weight - time will tell. This sculpt has tiny fingers, so I'm hoping that it holds up well to sculpting and firing because in dance any gymnastics, the finger attitude means so much.
You can also see the hollowing that is going on. I rough in the shapes and then as the piece starts to dry and firm up, I can cut of the rough arms and head and hollow out and reattach. I've already hollowed her head and put it back on. The one arm is in place, the other is still off and drying a bit to be more firm.

The legs are still clunky because I really need to mass there to support in the early stages. Then I'll start to refine and take the forms down.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Figure Sculpting Demo - young dancer in ceramic clay #8

After letting the sculpt sit overnight I came back to it with fresh eyes. Something had been bothering me and I finally came to the conclusion that the dress wasn't quite right. So I spent some time adding clay and changing the way that the fabric moved. That seemed to make a pleasing difference:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Figure Sculpting Demo - young dancer in ceramic clay #7

 Making progress on the sculpt and generally pleased with her. There are some areas that need a bit more refining. The lighting is rather harsh because I just grabbed some quick pix in the studio. .

When she's fully completed I will set up the photo lights and get better photos,

I really enjoyed sculpting her and have titled this piece:

"Her  first dress rehearsal"

This was my first sculpture of a child and I have to agree with other people - kids are challenging. I did not work from a model which can add to the challenge of a piece as I try to imagine limbs in the round. The thing with children is their softness. It makes it hard to find the forms sometimes.

 This was so enjoyable that I'm certain that I'll be doing more dancers and hopefully gymnasts too.