Thursday, September 9, 2010

ok....just so you know......

i couldn't stand it, so i crash cooled the kiln...................suffice it to say, i know what to do next time for the final shrinking of this sculpture.  fear not....the dogs' dear little faces are still perfect. 
this picture is just a subterfuge.

while i am waiting.....

here i am sitting at the keyboard, killing time blogging rather than cleaning up the pigsty that has become my studio. i'm waiting for the kiln to cool down so i can see if my double dog sculpture fired properly in copper.  i haven't had as much experience with copper, and one copper cast failed on this project already.  instead of firing them last night, as i told you i was going to, i put them back in the dehydrator, and weighted them.  i wanted to make sure that they were very very dry, as one scource told me that not being 'gently' dried, and not being fully dry could be the reason that the first copper one cracked and failed.  never occurred to me, as i can fire bronze completely wet and it does ok. 

so here i am tapping my toes and waiting, and it will still probably be tomorrow before the blinkety blink thing is cool enough to take out of the kiln!

so..... let me tell you about the PMC level three certification class i took in purdue at the end of july.  it was held at purdue university, here in indiana.  i stayed for three days, and met alot of really wonderful folks.  class instructor was mary ann devos, both experienced and accomplished.  she gave us the traditional level 3 projects---one little hinged box and one setting of a large natural stone in two setting methods: prongs and bezels.  i aquited myself well except for forgetting to put the plaster duplicate of my stone in its setting before firing the piece!  the whole piece shrunk way too much to fit the stone, but lucky me!  my stone was a fossil and very soft, so i could file it to fit.  it actually looks better with the smaller stone.....sure it does....  such are the happy accidents that come with inspired lunacy.  here it is.   
my friend caorl meyers gave me two gifts before i went on this trip.  one was this nautilis fossil, and the other one was a bee bead.  the tree and the spiral are recurrent images in her work, and as i contemplated how to use this stone in my project i thought about how many times she has inspired me.  so how could i not make a piece called 'carol's inspiration'???  we are now in a friendly arguement about who will eventually get to keep it.  i'll keep you posted on that.  my dad would say that posession was nine tenths of the law.

the continuing story of the double dog portrait

i made a new mold of the teddy and sarah portrait yesterday.  i had a bit of trouble as the first metal one that i cast.  it cracked, and had to be put back together with beeswax before i could make the new mold.  don't know exactly what happened to make it crack.  it was in a place where it had cracked in the greenware state. ......that would be because i, never leaving well enough alone, saw that it had warped slightly and applied pressure to the copper greenware.  thus..... it cracked.  i repaired the crack with paste, but it broke again in the firing.  i could have gotten away with that if it were in the bronze clay.  i paste things together all the time.  i forgot to put any lavender oil in the copper paste, so maybe that was it.  any way, having lost my confidence, some what, i cast the new mold in metal clay adventure's bronze.  i really like the bronze, and the shrinkage is the same as their copper, so it fills the same purpose.  the piece came out beautifully, and another third smaller.  still have a couple of firings to go, though to gt the size i want, but aren't they pretty?

there are a couple of tiny marks that shouldn't be there, but i filled them and they should come out in the next casting.  i cast it in copper this time, and i'm drying it slower with weights in it, so we'll see if that stops the warping.  i'll let you know tomorrow....... it should go in the kiln, tonight.

wonder how i should mske the bail???

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

other things i've been working on

months ago the good queen molly comissioned a royal portrait in metal of her two golden retrievers, teddy and sarah.  i've been dragging my feet on this, while roalling it around in my mind, because i could not come up with anything more interesting that two dog heads profiled, and slightly off set, one on top of the other.  i had met the dogs, taken dozens of pictures, and thought and thought, but nothing came to me.  finally, finally i came up with a sketch to submit for approval.
she liked it!

the 'K' needed to be in the design to remember a dog long lost.

now i needed to spend the time working on a 3d image that would look like the real teddy and sarah.


wahoo!  molly liked this too!

i am now in the process of casting and firing.  i can take advantage of the 30% shrinkage factor of metal clay adventures bronze and copper clays, and cast and fire several times to achieve the approximate 1 1/2" x 2"  that we want the final product to be.  the original sculpture is 3 1/2" top to bottom.  first firing reduced it to 3" tall.  i've got the second casting ready to go into the kiln, and that will hopefully get it down to 2 1/2".  i'll let you know.  if all goes well the final casting will be in copper, and get the height down to 2".  my goal is to be done with the casting this week.....always good to have goals, ya know.  i'll keep you posted!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

taxing technology

yesterday, i spent quite a bit of time writing lots of informative stuff illustratined with  "8 x 10" glossies with circles and arrows" explaining my processes in attempting to do mixed metal inlay, only to post and find that 2/3 of what i had written had disappeared!.  lost in the ether.  arrrrgggghh!  at least i know, now, what i did, and won't do it again, but......X#?&X###!!!#@!!!!   oh, well!

to continue:  so far i've only been about 50% or 60% successful in my inlay efforts, but the process has been very interesting. while the 'termite run' inlays i previously posted, worked just fine fired at the schedule for bronze clay, the bigger pieces i tried next did not. in the picture in the post immediately preceeding this one, are two earring parts that were fired at the same time and constructed by rolling metal clay adventures bronze in to 2 card thicknesses, and cutting into cushion shape.  then roling again 2 cards thick cutting cushion shapes and cutting out a leaf pattern.  i spritzed the first set with water and lined up the second set on top, leaving me with a leaf shaped hole, backed with a two card thickness of bronze.  then i rolled out copper (metal clay adventures) two cards thick and rolled my leaf into the clay, cut around it and dropped it into my leaf shaped hole.  dried and fired both according to the bronze schedule and when i took them out of the charcoal, i realized that the bronze had fired, and the copper had not.  hmmmmmm......i said to myself, having just read hadar jacobson's blog on torch firing copper.....i wonder....i did not wonder for long as i got out my trusty torch and heated the first shape to red hot and held for six minutes, quenched, and viola!  perfect.  this is the leaf inlay you see in the front in the picture below.  success must have me giddy, as i immediately embarked on the second, did what i thought was the same thing and bubbled the bronze.  poop!  this is the less that perfect leaf inlay that you see behind the first,  in the picture below. it was an interesting lesson, however.  there was only one edge of the copper leaf that was blurred, and my conclusion was that if i filed off the bubbled bronze, i would have another perfect leaf .  wrongo!  the farther down i filed, the less of the original leaf showed.  the rest had obviously alloyed with the bronze.   never leaving well enough alone has been one of my major character flaws since childhood.    this is the results of my efforts:    
.....should have left well enough alone.   you can still see just a little of the copper at the top edge of the leaf and the stem, also a pretty big dent where i tried to file out a bubble.   once again, my favorite phrase has become...oh well.  BUT, now i know about alloying metals at high temperatures. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

a tast of things to come!

well!  after a hiatus of some little time, i back and boy do i have a lot to write about.  i have been discovering and experimenting with new brands of all three metal clays i have been working, and am discovering that each has different potentioa and different properties that i can use to my advantage.  metal clay adentures makes the bronze and copper clay that i have been using.  this summer i bought hadar jacobson's clay in copper bronze and WHITE bronze!  how cool is that?!!!  hadar's clay can be fired with a torch instead of ina bed of carbon in a kiln.  and my new thing that i've been working on is bronze with copper inlay.
more tomorrow!