Sunday, January 29, 2012

Heron sculpture begins

I begin the heron sculpture by building an armature with plumbing pipe, attaching it to a board with a flange. I used pipe left over from other jobs and , by chance, had the right length to have the "T" in the chest of the bird. I used 3/4" pipe for the main brace then used a reducer and 1/2" pipe and 1/2" "T" for inside the bird.

I then cut a piece of pink building foam into the approximate shape of the body of the bird.

I use a photo blown up to scale(the model is 6", the final sculpture is 24") of the finished piece to determine the position of the foam. Also,I have cut out a section on the far side of the foam to accommodate the plumbers "T" fitting through which I have placed a copper tube for the neck.
I don't glue the foam to the pipe, I use meat skewers at different angles to form a mechanical lock.

I cut off the skewers and begin to apply clay. This is a new clay I am using, Castilene. The hard version is like wax, yet when warmed can be modeled like clay.
I cover the body with clay...
I begin to form the head. I have also printed off a photograph of a heron to scale.

The heron blocked in.

I use the heat gun to warm the areas of clay that I have just added....

...then, use a flexible metal scraper to smooth the surface.
I begin to form the heron's face.

Birds come to eat the seed that I put on the window ledge.

Tree of life molds and a family get together

Don uses aluminum posts to stabilize the Tree of life mother mold, embedding them in the hydrocal.

After the mold is finished, the mother mold is removed...

and the interior rubber mold cut open. The armature is cut apart to fascilitate opening the mold.

The inside of the rubber mold - these are the roots of the tree.

Don has made a crate for his molds. The next step is to pack all the molds with carpet padding that Fashion Floors of Ekron KY allowed us to scavenge from their dumpster and then send it on it's way to Art Castings in Loveland, Co.

My family had a get together at my Lindsay's (my great niece, on the right of this photo). She lives in Carmel Indiana.

Carmel has a really nice arts district. This piece by Theodore Gall is at Evan Lurie Gallery. Each bronze sculpture opens to reveal various scenes. Really cool stuff.

I thought this was kind of interesting. On the top of the photo is a close-up of my hand with plaster residue. On the bottom is a frost pattern.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Continuing the Mold work on Don's Tree of life and making the model for the heron sculpture

Daphne is on hold while the molds for Don's sculpture are finished. But it's good to take a break. Working too long on a piece makes it difficult to accurately judge what needs work and it's easy to make a mistake.

Back to Don's mold work on the Tree of life sculpture. After the mother molds have dried, they are opened using a flat chisel.

The rubber mold inside which must then be cut open.

The two sides of the rubber mold are opened and an exacto knife is used to cut through the first 2 layers of mold material. Don does a more thorough job of explaining the process on his blog

The shim acts a guide as I cut around the mold, separating the 2 halves.

The 2 sections of the mold. Next for Don's job is the mother mold for the tree itself.

Next, for me, is making a model for the heron I will be doing for Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, KY.

For the model I first print a sketch of the heron at a 4 to 1 scale to the final sculpture. As the sculpture will be 24 inches tall, that makes this sketch 6 inches from just below the feet (leaving room for a shallow base) to top of head. I am using hard Castiline which is a wonderful material. It works like wax and so hard I won't need to make an armature. I use pink foam for the body of the heron so it will be lighter - the legs are very thin and I don't want the sculpture to slump.

I heat the castilene with a heat gun and apply it to the foam body and make a neck. The castilene has a high melt temperature -160 degrees so you have to be careful when handling it not to burn yourself. It will get shiny when it gets warm, but do a touch test to make sure it's not too hot - it can burn you. Heat lamps will also work to heat the castilene, but they can also get the clay very hot, so be careful.

I then make the legs. The thinner the castilene is, the easier it is to keep it workable just from the heat of your hands. When the castilene is warm (not hot) it is fairly sticky so it's easy to attach legs to the body. Additional pieces of warm castilene are then applied where legs connect to firm up the attachment.

I make a small base for the heron and stand it up.

I form the plants that will stand behind the heron, using the sketch as a guide. In the final sculpture the plants act as structural support for the heron as the legs are fairly thin and fragile.

The model for the heron. The body of the heron is a little too horizontal, but that is easily fixed, I'll just heat it and make it more upright.

My niece, Beth just had her 15th birthday - she is on the left, her brother Danny is lighting the candles while his girlfriend, Olivia, watches.

Ice on the windshield.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Continuing mold work on Tree of life, two new pieces and a calendar...

We have had really warm weather lately so I thought I make use of these nice temperatures and do a little more work on the mystery sculpture. I am using a 9 inch grinder with a diamond wheel making an undercut. It is a little awkward to cut in this position so I use my leg to help stabilize the grinder and keep it from binding.
Back to Don's Tree of Life ...

We put the first layer of polygel 40 on the trees limbs and trunks. I am just hitting the highlights, Don is doing a much more detailed description on his blog

After 2 layers of mold material, plastic shims are cut and pinned into the negative spaces as well as the outside edge of the sculpture .

The tree is completely shimmed and ready for more layers of rubber. It looks pretty cool as is.
But now we need to get back to the leaves and put plaster mother molds on....

Here are the 23 leaf cluster molds waiting for plaster mother molds. The polygel makes an exact mold of the surface of the sculpture but it remains very flexible and needs something rigid to conform to the general shape of the sculpture. That is what a mother mold does.

The two bowls on the stand are made for mixing hydrocal. They are extremely flexible so the material is easily cleaned out. The metal tool on the left is for applying the hydrocal and well as cleaning up the part line of the mold as it dries.

Hydrocal is just like plaster, but stronger. It is sifted by handfuls onto the water. When it no longer sinks into the water but some sits on top it is ready to mix up and apply.

After applying the first coat of hydrocal (which starts out quite thin) a layer of hemp fibers is worked in. This gives extra strength to the mold.

The hydrocal gets thicker as it begins to set. It can then be shaped and formed. Don is giving this mold a strong edge. The hydrocal was applied to one side of the mold and allowed to cure and then the piece is flipped over and the other side is done.

The bowls had to washed after every application of hydrocal. The sun was shining on the side of the bucket and I thought it would make a nice shot...

I just got a new comission, a Great Blue Heron sculpture. It will be 2 feet tall and will go on top of a Granite base at Cave Hill Cemetery.

This is also a design I am working on -an angel for a stone commission. Keep tuned for updates on these 2 pieces.

We had a couple of days of cold weather and a little snow before it warmed up. The snow was coming down in unusually big clumps and made for a pretty scene.

This is a self published calendar of my work that I just had printed by Zazzle.

I am working out some of the bugs, but it will soon be available for sale.