Saturday, April 30, 2011

How to make a bronze bas relief award plaque honoring Bob Barker...Part 3

My plaque came back from the foundry.
Lee chopped off the sprues, welded a hanger on the back (just in case it's ever taken from its frame), and gave it a once over in the sandblast cabinet.

sandblasted bronze, ready for patina

After that, it's time for me to create the patina (being sure to take all the necessary safety precautions, of course).
I gave it a soak in sulphurated potash (just a sprinkle, mixed in water) to turn it black.
Then I scrubbed it back with a scotch brite pad, and then some very fine steel wool.

After that, I heated it with a weed burning torch and sprayed on a mix of ferric nitrate and cupric nitrate, then waxed it while hot.

A quick buffing after it cooled was all that was needed before popping it into a its frame.

Next stop: Mercy For Animals.
Final destination: Bob Barker!

I've cast only two of this version (one to be given to Bob, and one for me to keep), but when I get a bunch of my non-award version cast (which has a cloudy sky instead of award lettering and will be sent to galleries) I'll post pics of that too.

This has been both an honor and a great deal of fun to make.
Thanks Mercy For Animals!

And thanks Lee for helping me get it done in time!


Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Michael Tatom's bear necessities...

I'm friends with jeweler and sculptor Michael Tatom.

Our styles of work and sculpting approaches are very different.

My approach so far has been additive with a focus on a certain kind of realism, while Michael's is subtractive and more stylized.

I've always been impressed by artists who can pull off the subtractive method as Michael does with such excellent results.

Luckily he's taken some pictures, so I can share his process with you here...

He'll start with just a couple of pictures of  his intended subject for reference.
I think he's rather amused by my piles of reference pictures when tackling a subject!

First he makes fairly orthographic drawings to transfer onto a block of very hard jeweler's carving wax.

If his wax isn't a thick enough block, he'll heat up surfaces and stick them together.

He's etched along his dotted lines.

Then he uses a band saw to roughly cut away the waste areas, before going back in with rotating barrel grinders.
No prizes for noticing that these next pics are of a different bear!

And some other things...

Barrel burr
'action'... demonstrating on another piece of wax

Not yet fully smooth...

As the form nears completion he moves on to files and gravers, finally finishing up with paper towels and solvents to achieve his signature smooth surface...

Getting scraped...

Files, gravers, and burrs

Look at those skinny files. I reckon Michael could probably do you a half decent root canal in a pinch...

 Here's a magpie ready for molding...
His paintings aren't nearly as refined as his sculptures, as you can see on the cupboard door :)

A small sampling below...

See Michael's website HERE...
or his Etsy store HERE...

All pictures in this post are copyright Michael Tatom, and used with permission.

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Friday, April 15, 2011

Upside down vision, and making the blind (half blind, anyway) see. Perhaps. And some Pugnacious mice...

It's a fact that if you wear special glasses that turn everything upside down, after a while your brain will flip everything back over again in your head.
It even works on cats, apparently.

This brain's way of making sense of the world has had me wondering:
Every year around the time I go for my eye exam, I wonder if the brain could make someone who lost an eye see normally again?

Here's what I've been wondering might work...

Let's say our test person lost the use of their left eye.
Light that would normally come to it is deflected across their face via a 45 degree angled mirror.
It is then re-deflected into their right eye via a semi-silvered mirror.
So along with the deflected light from the left side, will also come light from the right side, straight through the semi-silvered mirror.
In the above diagram the dice is far out of the top of the frame, and we are looking down on the top of someone's head...

You'd see two images superimposed on top of one another, which would probably give you a headache.

Or would it?

Say after a few days of weirdness and pain, maybe the mighty brain's visual unscrambler could go to work and turn it all good?

After all, it kind of knows what it wants to be seeing (if you lost your eye, not if you'd never had it, I imagine).

I don't know, but every year it gets me wondering.

Is this ludicrous? Might it work? Has it been tried? Can you already buy these at WalMart?

I have no idea.

If anyone thinks it would work or not, I'd be all ears!

Oh, and just to keep it all properly sculpture related, here's some pics of my first full litter of Pugnaciouses, which will be heading off to their new owners who backed them on Kickstarter.

They're like mice, only crossed with both piranhas and meerkats...

Beware roving gangs of Pugnacious mice...
What's that smell?

They can bring down large prey by cunningly chewing through the laces...

Rumpy and Pumpy aren't ready yet, so if your backing activities included them, hang in there, I'll keep you posted...


Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille

Friday, April 8, 2011

How to make a bronze bas relief award plaque honoring Bob Barker...Part 2

finished plaque (added after this post was first published)

I had planned to have Lee Wilson mold my calf, pull waxes, and then I'd letter each one directly onto the wax.
Luckily I like to run my plans past Lee when they involve production steps since he's very efficient and always thinking the next step (or three) ahead to streamline the process from mold making to metal chasing, since he works on all the steps in between.

He thought it would be awkward for me to letter them directly onto the thin, delicate waxes.
And doing it twice would be no fun!

So he gave me a big chunk of wax with a smooth surface to letter on, which he would pull rubber from, and make waxes of the lettering to chop into the plaque.

That way, if anything went wrong it would be possible to assemble another wax with much less fuss and bother.

So I traced over the lettering with a ball point pen, which left a nice indentation on the wax.
And I used some white 'trace down' type paper to put in the horizontal lines.

Metal ended tool with a stalk and a ball shaped end

Rubber mold

 Lee finds household appliances handy for melting wax.
He's very careful not to pour molten wax on himself, as the hair on his arms reveals.

Trimming the edges of the lettering...

Lettering cut into place...

After the lettering  has been cut into the plaque Lee 'welded' it in place with hot wax.
Then I used a scrapey tool to carefully chase away the nasty looking weld, Lee cleaned it up with mineral spirits, I re-tooled the lettering to sharpen it up a bit and etched my name into the bottom edge and it's ready for a trip to the foundry for spruing, investing, burnout, casting and de-molding.

I'm making two: one for Mercy For Animals to present to Bob, and one for me, which will also serve as insurance against anything going wrong with the casting.

If one gets messed up somehow, there's a back-up.
Hopefully all will be well though!

Wax welding

Lettering in place before clean up

Lettering in place after clean up

Off to the foundry...!

I like the clean look around the lettering, so I decided to leave out additional cloud elements.
However I'm using the original art to make a new piece starring the same calf, but with a new background of clouds and rain, which I'll feature in an up-coming post...

Click these links to visit my website... - Sculpture that loves you back
or my Etsy store, CritterVille