Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Second Semester Metals Part 2- Everything Else

So after those 5 weeks of making earrings AND working on the first project, I was delighted to be able to just focus on doing the project. It's good to know that I can work at that pace, but even better to know I don't have to anymore.

The rest of this semester was spent learning to cast, which is how most jewelery sold in stores is made. Casting is fun, hard, time-consuming, and somewhat dangerous. Most things we do have some elements of danger, but casting could cause some serious injury with just a minor mistake. Basically, here's how it goes down. We use various hardnesses of wax to carve, melt, whatever, in order to make our form. Then we use a mixture of plaster and silica to make a mold around our form. This is a tedious process. We have to wear respirators because the silica can cause serious lung injury, and the mixture cannot be too thin nor too thick. We only have about 5 minutes from mixing the powder with the water to get all the bubbles out before it starts to set up. It's a pain. But then the molds (with the forms still in them) then get put in the kiln where they get so hot that all the wax (or anything else that was used) gets burned out.

Then we begin the actual casting process. This must be done while the molds are still hot from burning out the wax, but they can't be TOO hot. The timing is very important. We have this centrifuge that holds the mold and holds the vessel that we use to hold the melted metal -the crucible. I like that name. So basically, metal chunks go in the crucible, then we use an oxygen/acetelyne torch to melt the metal until it's molten-aka completely liquid. Sometime during this melting, the mold is brought over and placed in the centrifuge. Then, while still heating the metal, you release the tiny pin (the only thing that keeps the centrifuge from flying while you're heating the metal) and the machine goes whizzing around in a circle, throwing the molten metal into the mold. At this point, if there were any cracks in the mold AT ALL, molten metal goes flying, which is obviously super dangerous. It happened a few times, either because people didn't make the molds right, they got the form too close to the bottom of the mold, or they did not properly gauge the amount of metal and put too much in.

After this, we let the mold cool just a little, then we plunge it into a bucket of water and let all the investment bubble out. The mold is still REALLY hot, so the water gets hot fast. It's fun though, I like this part. Sooooo here's what i made with this whole process.

Set of 3 rings that associate in some way. Carved totally out of wax, cast in sterling silver. I love them, but my fingers have gotten fatter since then...

My next forms were made experimenting with barbie parts. The blue wax is the carving wax we use, and the red is for making the sprues. The sprue system is like a tunnel system to allow the metal to get into every part of the form. Based on the physics, there are just some places in certain forms that the metal cannot reach thru centrifugal force, so making sprues allows the metal to get in there. The sprue wax is super soft so I used it to help blend the barbie parts with the blue wax. It looks creepy like this though. Ps- the texture in the blue wax is just what happens when you pour melted wax into ice water. I saw them do it on the food network with melted sugar, so I thought I would try it. Cool, huh?

 I didn't set out for them to be anything specific, they were just the result of me playing around. I think they look like some sort of mutant coral or something, and my teacher thinks they look like barnacles.

I really wanted to cast orchids because I think they're just beautiful. I coated the first one in wax because I wasn't sure if it would be thick enough to stand up to the mold. You can see the sprue system in this picture, to give you an idea of what I was talking about. All those red sticks fill with metal and we have to go in and cut them out. Seems like a waste, but that metal just gets melted back down in the next casting. 

I wanted to keep playing with the barbies, so I added their faces, hands, and feet to some orchids. I love the result, and though I have been told it's confusing or too blatant with the imagery, I have a whole series of these in my head. 

I used a patina to make what was the red sprue wax into what looks like a mold/moss like growth.

The male mutant flower

 Aaaand at this point, we all realized how much Ken looks like JFK. Crazy.

1 comment:

  1. I like the sculptures (you would call them that right?). I don't think they're too blatant or confusing...there's just a lot of thought provocation and interpretation in them.
    I dunno...maybe I'm being a little too "Bravo's the Next Great Artist."

    Kudos. You've definitely inspired me to start blogging illustrations again. Cuz why covet all my talent eh?