Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Best In The World

Haven't posted in a while, but that doesn't mean I've been idle.

Spent last Friday casting the next positive in Forton MG - which is a complicated and unsatisfying process. Forton requires 4 different proportions of 4 different materials - some dry, some wet, some by lb. some by gram. It also requires fiberglass (I'm using 1.5 oz chop strand fiberglass mat) which is an unpleasant material to work with. The best analogy I can come up with it is trying to wallpaper a toilet with elmers glue and horsehair. It is an inelegant and frustrating process. Add to that the stress working with a new material - not being sure if the mixes are correct, not knowing if it's going to stick to the mold, etc. - and you get a really long and unpleasant day.

If I had written a post on Friday, you might have thought I was never going to make a sculpture again, and you would have been right. On Friday I was sure I would never do this again. Not this big. Not while teaching full time. Not with a wife and kids. Not without a major grant, or a commission, or some clear purpose, other than making myself miserable and pissing money away. Then on Wednesday I got it out of the mold, and now all is forgiven.

There is simply nothing like having a complex, multi-part, process resolve itself more or less the way you thought it would. It's incredibly addictive. It immediately makes you forget all of the frustration and heartache, and start planning your next campaign. All the anxiety and uncertainty of of the last six months is distilled into one moment, and then resolved.

Here's how it went down.

First of all, I bought another set of ratchet straps, and gave myself 8 anchor points inside the casting.

Once I had everything secured, and was able to lift the mold and the casting away from the table, I eased the 7 pieces of the mothermold away from the rubber mold, which was still holding tight to the rigid body of the cast. Then I slowly peeled back the rubber.

I was particularly gratified to see how raising the cast helped in the de-mold process. Figuring out how to make gravity a partner in the process, rather than an obstacle, was my own little innovation, and it worked out beautifully.

There are still miles to go - little places that need patching, etc., and I'm sure I will be cursing again before the end of it. but having this work out is a huge boost to the finish line. Huge.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dry Run

It was a hectic day in the studio Friday, but I did manage to get a reasonable trial cast of "Self-Portrait...".

I decided that before I invested in a whole order of Forton, I'd make a trial run with something relatively simple, like Hydrostone and burlap. My hope was that the cost of days worth of labor, and a few bucks in material would be offset by the trouble spots and problems I would discover, and be able to anticipate for next time.

Here's how it went. First, I brushed in a thin coat of a Hyrdostone into the mold.

Then I added a couple of coats of burlap dipped in Hydrostone, to give the shell some strength. After a couple coats, I added these loops of sixteen gauge wire.

My hope was that the wire loops would allow me to suspend the cast from the ceiling, and pull the mold out from under it.

It almost worked according to plan. I don't have any pictures of me taking the mold away, because it turned out I really could have used an assistant. The wire worked like a champ, and for a minute the whole thing was suspended a few inches above the table, until weight of the mold overcame the structural integrity of the cast, and it started to collapse and bend. I'm hoping that stronger material, more reinforcement and more points of contact will solve that problem, and that the next one will be a keeper.