Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In Praise Of Rudolf Siemering

On my birthday a couple of weeks ago, I took the afternoon and headed in to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I didn't really have a plan, except to grab a cup of coffee at the cafeteria, and check in on a few of my favorites. Mostly, I just wanted a moment to look at some work that wasn't my own, and to recharge my batteries.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Part 2 of Part 2 of Part 1 Done

Very satisfying day. There really is nothing like pulling a big mold to make you feel like a champion. Of course the real proof is in the cast, but getting the mold off is a big step in the right direction. Here's how it all went down...

First, we built a wall around the cured rubber mold. In the past I found that the borders were the weak link in plaster mother molds, so the hope was that we'd fill to the wall, and create a good solid border.

Next, we covered the whole thing in fiberglass saturated in FRG-95.

In order to increase strength and rigidity, we bent a few lengths of conduit to fit along the contour of the form.

We also wrapped tie wire around the ends of the conduit to provide anchor points for eventually pulling up the mother mold.

Then we used ratchet straps to gently pull the mother mold up away from the base board. Worked like a dream. Came up in about 5 minutes, with very little prying. But before we separated all of the pieces, we built a wee wooden frame that will keep the mold more or less level as we cast it.

So that's it. A very successful and satisfying day. Many thanks to my assistant, James, who worked with me in the 95 degree heat in a closed for two days getting this thing done. Gracias.

From here, it's time to make a cast and start working the next section. Looking forward to it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Part 1 Done, Part 1 of Part 2 of Part 1 Done

Urethane rubber day. Very smooth, all things considered. Having done it before and having an assistant really make an enormous difference.

One thing that seemed like a brilliant idea, but which didn't work was...

...inserting short lengths of wire into the clay with markings at about 3/8ths of an inch out, so we could keep track of how thick the rubber was. It's a fine idea, but in practice the wires were quickly coated with black rubber, which made them useless. Maybe next time I'll mark them with a bit of masking tape, and see if that works.

Another new development is filling the undercut with foam rubber. Seemed to work great - the rubber sticks to the previous layer, and then is coated by the next. Once I saw how well this appeared to be working, I may have gone a little bit overboard, filling "undercuts" that were hardly worthy of the name. Hopefully it won't all bite me in the ass later.

So that's it. Mother mold tomorrow. Hopefully just as smooth.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Am I Done?

Deciding that a piece is ready to mold is a little like handing in the exam booklet for a critical test. You're exhausted, you really think you've put everything into it, but you're still not sure.

That said, here it is. Part one of part one. We start making the mold tomorrow.

This last image is interesting, in that it allows you to see the support system for the arm which is to be cut away in the final casting. I'm imagining it will much easier to cut away material than to try to make a mold around an arm that floats out in space. Not easy, but easier. Same with the sword.

There's a million more things I'd like to discuss here, particularly regarding the handling of the clay surface but, as usual, it's late, and I've got a big day tomorrow, and a 5 month old who doesn't sleep through the night.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Closing In

Somehow these photos aren't doing the face justice, which makes me nervous, but which really is better in person. There's something going on with the different colors of clay (I think) that throw the photos off. At this point I've gotten through the hard part. Now it's just satisfying to watch it all come together.

The sponge on the binder clip at left is what I use to keep my fingers wet and my tools clean.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Progress, No Progress, And No Pictures

An unusual day in the studio. A Friday. A good day. Started the day with a little Helmet "Meantime", which is a good kickstart to get excited working folds first thing in the morning. Then steady progress all day. The best moment came when I cut away a big portion of the lower hips, which made an unexpectedly significant difference. Suddenly she sits back in her hips the way she's supposed to. Little moments like that make me happy, but they also make me nervous. What else am I missing? What else do I think looks fine that needs to be changed?

On the other hand, my assistant James and are trying to figure out a new way to mold the small figures, and it's not working. We're losing detail, which is both unacceptable, and doesn't make any sense. You just shouldn't loose detail in a silicone mold. I called the guys at Polytek, and they were stumped too. But in a triumph of customer service, they told me to send them the originals, and they would do some experiments and try to figure out a solution. You don't see that kind of corporate integrity too much these days, and I surely appreciate it. For my money, Polytek is the L.L. Bean of molding and casting supply companies.