Thursday, January 26, 2012

Metal Chasing of "Ascension"

The bronze has been poured then the metal shell smashed off. After it was sandblasted to clean off any lingering particles, they take the sculpture in and begin to weld the pieces back together. Then an artisan known as a metal chaser then works on
burnishing out the weld seams and any some imperfections that they find. Marker indicates areas that they will do some additional work.

 I spent a lot of time at the Base Shop selecting the base (Nordic Green Granite) and how the sculpture will work with the base. We are going to go with a two tier base so that there will be room for the turntable (then the sculpture will rotate smoothly)

The sculpture is looking beautiful and I've mapped out my patina ideas - so once the sculpture has been custom fit to the base and the chasing done - it will be time to patina and affix to the base!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First Bronze Pouring of "Ascension"

Today was the first pouring of bronze for "Ascension"!  The shells had been built up over the hollow wax sections over a period of time. The shells were then placed into the furnace and the wax was melted out - a process referred to as "lost wax".

Next they took special buckets and collected the molten bronze and poured the liquid metal into the now-hollow ceramic shells. Once the bronze cools, they break apart the ceramic shells using hammer and pneumatic tools. After removing the hard shells, the sprues are then cut off using plasma torches.

Once that is completed, the sections of bronze are cleaned up by sand-blasting the last bits of plaster shell residue.

Finally, after the pieces are cleaned up they are ready to be welded back together.

Tomorrow I'll post photos of the sculpt being metal-chased.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Refining clay sketch maquette

I got a little more work in on the clay sketch - refining shapes and forms a bit. This is Chavant's LeBeau Touche' HM (High Melt) plastelina oil based clay. As it's softer than my J-Mac Extra Firm, it's proving to be much easier to work quickly and the softness of the clay (when warmed under a light) makes it much more malleable. I originally started working with Chavant High Melt nearly 20 years ago when we lived in Sarasota and Placida Florida. At that time I was doing a lot of bas relief sculptures for Image Creations of Florida and found that the HM was the safest clay for me to use in my studio and then transport in the high Florida heat to my client's offices nearly 2 hours hot drive from my studio. Other clays would sometimes literally melt in my car during the commute.

So if you work in a high temperature climate I would highly recommend Chavant's HM (High Melt) clays for your use.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Maquette - clay sketch for next scuplture

While I have my 18" Truform armature set up and ready to go, I'm still working out the pose in my head. I decided that some sketching was in order but instead of breaking out the sketchbook, this time I decided to sketch in clay to work out some of the mechanics before I go to finish.

Anyone who know me know that I am an unlikely mix of spontaneous impatience (I want to get started NOW!) and relentless perfectionism (it must be as good as in my mind - no better, Better, BETTER!)

That can make for some frustrating work habits. So I'm killing two birds with one stone - starting work NOW and accepting that it can't be perfect because it's only the maquette (small clay sketch).

I am using an inexpensive 12" wire armature and some old Chavant LeBeauTouche HM plasteline. While this plasteline is perfectly fine, I do like Jmac quite a bit too. Since the LeBeau is softer than my extra firm Jmac, I though it was a good choice for clay sketching - it is quicker to warm up to workable consistency and softer/easier for my hands to manipulate, facilitating a faster, looser approach. Hopefully that will lend more life movement to the sketch and yet make it easier for me to stop at a less-than-finished state and then move on to my 18" final model, using the sketch as my reference.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Preparing board and Truform armature

 Time to get my new armature ready. I went to the hardware store and got my flange screws. After deciding the placement for the armature, I marked the board, pre-dilled the four holes, then screwed the metal flange in place.

Next I attached the metal armature rod from my 18"Truform armature. I bought this a while back, but have been busy working on other projects and haven't had the chance to try this.  The head is removable but the rest of the armature is not. In the larger sizes, you can take off the arms and legs, allowing you easier access to work on the sculpt - a real plus in certain poses.

I do know it was very tricky trying to get to certain areas with my "Ascension" so it would be beneficial to be able to take the arms and legs off of this armature. Since that isn't an option on this size of armature, I've been experimenting with creating my own system for making the extremities removable. So far 3 of my four designs failed, but the 4th is showing some promise, so I will do further experiments before starting this sculpt.

This will be a new experience for me, as I made my own armature using multiple aluminum wire for "Ascension".

Also, as I had some difficulties with the hands getting bumped, I'm building some wire armature hands to put on this piece, which may be very helpful or just a big pain in the butt - time will tell.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Getting Jmac clay ready for next sculpt

Time to prepare for my next sculpt. This one will be done in similar style and fashion as "Ascension", however I'm trying out a new armature, which I'll be showing later.

I spent a week purging my studio of past projects and art supplies that I'm no longer using. The local people on Craigslist are very pleased about that ;-) Still needing to improving my lighting for sculpting, as it's imperative to have good, strong directional lighting to cast shadows on the sculpt to reveal the forms. As I do most of my sculpting standing - or even standing on a stool for added height, I need a light that I can move around as needed - plus my ceiling is rather low (basement studio) so I don't have a lot of hanging options. I'm thinking of getting a boom for photo lighting and clipping a light onto that. It would be useful for lighting and photographing the sculptures later too.

Time to get my materials ready to work. Every artist has their own methods of working. David Lemon (check out this guy's blog - it's delightful to watch him work and his sculpts are crazy good) likes to chunk his clay into pieces using a knife. I suspect he's bigger and stronger than I am, plus my Jmac clay is extra firm. I think it's left over from when I was living in Florida and needed something that would say firm even in high heat.  I can't possible cut through it. This may be way firmer than I will like working in for a figure, but want to try and use it up before purchasing another block in a less firm formula. So instead of trying to cut pieces off the block, I place a lamp on it to warm and then shave pieces off and collect them into a foil lined box. This box has a lid (great for keeping out dust and hair) and the foil helps hold and reflect the heat from the lamp to warm the clay. The small strips warm up very quickly compared to larger sections. I can then easily mush the strips together into manageable lumps for easy grabbing later as I'm sculpting.

Time consuming and a bit hard on the hand, but will make the actual sculpting process much smoother so worth the time and effort now.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Attaching wax sprues & making ceramic shell

Jeanne from Art Castings foundry let me know that the sprues were being added to my wax Ascension today. So I grabbed my camera and drove down through the snow to get some shots of the process. Wendy was working on the piece as I walked into the sprue room. She showed me how she evaluates each section to envision how the bronze will flow into the cavity left by the wax, then creates different sized channels out of wax (sprues) to act as the funnel for the bronze to pour down.

It's amazing how much work and time goes into the creation of each and every bronze. This whole process is created for every one in an edition and also means that no two bronzes are 100% identical.

Once all the wax spruces are in place, Wendy adds a pipe to the bottom of the pour cup and takes to the slurry room and places them on tall poles called 'trees'.

Next John will take each wax section and dip it into a slurry mixture, let it drain a bit then take it to a sand box and shake silica over it. The slurry and silica are built up layer, by layer over a period of 1-2 weeks, creating a hard shell encasing the wax. They are placed on the trees to dry and harden.

Once the shell is complete, it's off to the furnace to burn out all the wax and pour the molten bronze.