Monday, November 29, 2010

An Exciting Digital Development Or Possibly Cheating

Before the break, worked with my incredibly smart and capable wife to come up with a plan to get everything done before the NY show in March. One thing that came out of our discussion was that it was high time to do something that I'd be thinking about for a while, and make a digital record of all the existing elements.

This was a good time to do it, as I'd just made a full set the week before, so I had everyone made, but without nails. This meant they could all lie flat under the downshooting setup with have at school. So that's what I did. As usual, I wish I had more time, so that I could have gotten really great images of every piece. As it is, I got a record of everything at a more-or-less consistent scale, which is basically what I neeeded.

Here's a shot of the raw images.

And here's a shot of the ruler I used, so I could make the digital images the right size in the real world.

From there, I was able to grab each piece individually and (and this is the important part), start composing them digitally. No more making thousands of pieces and arranging them by hand. Now I can figure out the compositions, and then work backward to figure out how many pieces I need to make. So much better.

I'm still working on this one, but here's the progression of a 3 x 3 image I'm working on. This one might be "Tell Me Again How This Is My Fault".

So far this is working great, and it looks like it's going to make life much easier. The only down side is that the process lends itself to endless tweaking, which will no doubt be made irrelevant on contact with reality.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Things I Wish I Had Made, For 1000

Here's where I found it. God knows that's not the whole story.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Does This Look Familiar?

Found this the other day

on ffffound. Grabbed it, but by now they've posted so much, the link is buried. Undoubtedly photoshopped, but right in line with my current compositional preferences.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Progress, And A Few Possible Titles

Ok. Not a bad day. Scrolling down, I'm reminded that I had hoped to be mostly done with the big guy today, but it didn't happen. Sick most of this week, and unable to pick up the excellent mounting hardware pictured below before this afternoon.

Sky Blanchard made the brackets for me, and they look like they're going to work great. My plan is to stick one end of the brackets down to the figure with Forton and fiberglass. The other end of the bracket get screwed to the wall, and both ends have tapped holes so that set screws can clamp down on the bars that run in-between. Smooth.

As far as I know, Sky works without a net (no website), and I'm not about to give his number out on a blog, but if you know Sky, and you need work done, he's the man. Plus, his new shop/house/warehouse is amazing. It's a classic example of the live/work artist's loft that developers are killing themselves trying to sell in Northern Liberties, but without all the granite counter-tops and stainless steel appliances (or, as far as I could tell, a kitchen). He also welded a threaded rod to a steel rod for me, which I'm planning on using for the second round of the arrow. More on that later.

Knowing that today was NOT going to bring about sculptural resolution, I got to work casting relief figures for the next wall pieces. It's boring work, but I did OK. Got two boxes like this

filled before running out of stuff and patience. The new Polycoat system is working great. Surprising how much of a difference it makes not spraying in the mold release, and how much better the pieces look with the PolyFil ND. I wouldn't say that the fill is entirely ND, in that a lot of it seems to end up in the bottom of the cup, but none of it seems to end up on the surface of the cast, so I've got no complaints.

The incredibly fast set time for urethane plastics means that casting these guys is strictly small-batch undertaking. It's not exciting work, but it there is definitely an art to figuring out how many pieces you can before before the whole mess sets up. Not many, it turns out, and less if you pause to fiddle around with anything along the way.

Finally, I had a few titles ideas today.

"Man, It Makes Me Hungry Just To Look At You"

"Explain To Me Again How This Is My Fault".

Now I just need the pieces to go with them.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hold This Thought

Something interesting here. There's something so elegant and dangerous about the stance, particularly in combination with that face like a cagey Flemish Madonna. Maybe something for the next large figure?

Link to the image on The Big Picture here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Further Proof Of Life

Ok, more progress. It's the little last steps that kill me, but I hope to be more or less done with this big bastard by Friday. Not counting the finish.

Anyway, last Friday I finally got around to patching a few of the trickier holes. These are places where the surface coat was didn't fill, or broke away in the de-molding process. Some (small) holes are relatively easy to fix, but when the flaw is in the middle of an area of texture, the patch is obviously a little more involved. An example;

getting from this -

to this -

-required not just adding material, but carefully carving and sanding it with a dremel to match the existing texture.

Also on Friday, I cast the long arrow he's supposed to be holding. I haven't made the arrow before this because I needed to build it in relation to the existing sculpture, but I knew that it would be so long and thin that it made no sense to include in the original mold. It's amazing to me that now, in mid-November, I might finally get to see the composition I've been planning all along.

I've run a threaded rod through the middle, both to provide stability, and to have something to tie into in the larger casting.

Finally, I re-attached the top portion of the bow that broke off in the de-mold process. I had run a steel rod through the bow, but it broke off exactly at the spot where the rod ended, so I glued it in place with a mending plate and some JB Weld. I'll go back and clean it up with a little Forton, and it will look good as new.

A last note about working with Forton MG. In general, it's been great. Getting the proportions right is a bit tricky, but I haven't had any problems, and the material seems as strong and light as advertised. Patching has been easy and seamless. My only complaint is that, because so little catalyst is required per batch, it's hard to mix the really small batches I need here at the end. When you're talking abut 145 bucks a kit, plus shipping, that kind of waste has real teeth.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Little Glimmers Of Hope

So after ranting for a bit last night about slow progress and too many steps, I went out to the studio and ran a test of some new material I got from Polytek last week, got a lovely result, and all was forgiven (again).

As I outlined earlier, the small relief pieces are enormously process intensive. My hope in buying this new material was to cut out some of those processes, while simultaneously getting a better finish on the individual figures.

The problem is that the castings I've been getting out of the molds are extremely shiny, which is a function of the both the initial state of the sealed positive, the silicone release needed to get the castings out of the mold, and the nature of the urethane plastic itself. In the test last night, I painted one of my molds with Polycoat. Polycoat is a "one-part moisture-curable silicone sealant" that essentially gives surface of your urethane mold the properties of silicone, which is to say, no need for mold release, and the ability to coat the mold surface with talc to create a more matte surface.

To further flatten the finish, I also bought a bucket of Polyfil ND "...a "neutral density" filler designed for use with polyurethane liquid rubbers and plastics". The hope was that Polyfil would both dull the surface of the casting, and get more mileage out of the casting material.

So far, so good. Last night's test was a dramatic improvement over what I've been getting, and would seemingly obviate the mold-release applying, detergent washing, wire brushing, and spray painting I've done up to now. It cost me something like 150 bucks, and there's still a lot of molds to paint, but it looks like a net win. Better living through chemistry, y'all.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

No Pictures, Please

Oy, it has been slow going lately.

Friday I was in the studio all day,and felt like I got nothing done, except making a mess. The semester's schedule and work around the house have really been taking their toll.

That said, I've managed to make and mold the arrow that the "Self Portrait" figure will eventually be holding, and started some experiments with other finishes for the smaller relief figures, with an eye toward an exhibition in NYC in March.

I am going back and forth on the wisdom of working at this scale at this phase of life. I like working big, and the sense of accomplishment is fantastic, but never being finished is beginning to wear me down. As of this moment, I've still got to:
  1. repair the small places where the surface coat either broke away or didn't fill
  2. cast the arrow, and figure out how to attach it securely
  3. re-attach part of the bow that broke off
  4. clean up the edges and chase the surface
  5. figure out how to mount it, and then do it
  6. figure out the appropriate surface treatment, and then apply it