Sunday, December 30, 2012

Plan Ahead or Plan 4 Heads

While discovering the fantastic things that could be created with cast resin, I decided I wanted to do a complicated cast of a life-sized head.  This piece would be entitled "Four Generations".  The tricky part was to include all four heads in one piece.  My plan was to cast a small baby head, a young boys head, a young mans head, and an old mans head.  I was familiar with the wax model, plaster of Paris mold process so started.  After shaping the babies head, it was coated with plaster and set to dry.  Removal of the wax was accomplished by heating the mold and letting the melted wax drain out through a hole in the base.  The babies head was cast in a dark brown resin, poured through the hole in the base of the mold.  To eliminate overheating a conservative amount of catalyst was mixed with the resin and small batches were poured over a considerable amount of time.  I had learned the hard way that large pours create excessive heat and crack the resin casting.

When cool and solid the plaster mold was chipped away from the resin head.  The babies head was cleaned and set aside.  Modeling the boys head had to be scaled large enough to accommodate the baby head in the same mold.  Do you see the pattern evolving; model the head, cast the mold on it, melt out the wax, suspend the previous cast head in the mold, cast the resin of the next head around it, remove the mold, etc.  I thought I had a winner and could hardly waite until that last cast of the old man came out of the mold and was polished up.  To my dismay the three heads inside didn't show up clearly even though I had used a different colored resin for each of them.  The main problem was the many wrinkles in the old mans face distorted the inner images.  I tried focusing a light on the head from different angles which helped a small amount.  Below are photos of the head in different poses.  You be the judge.  The baby is in dark brown, the boy is in red and the man is in blue.

I would like to try this project again and use very smooth stylized heads or similar objects.  I have also thought of casting each object so that they protrudes at different amounts below the base.  Light travels through cast resin and highlights the edges.  If light was concentrated on one objects end at the base it would in theory highlight that objects edges.

Well, as they say,"back to the drawing board".  Ideas are welcome on this unsolved project and credit will be noted to those who solve it.

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Full Moon Rising

I have always been impressed with some of the fine wall hangings that used a backing fabric and colored threads to create a picture.  They are called tapestry and I viewed them as painting a picture with fabric.  I wanted to try a similar process but with wood.  I constructed frames with Masonite backing for six pieces of varying dimensions.  The largest was 4' x 3' and 1"deep.  It was an impressionistic desert view using wood from the desert.

The second piece completed was a smaller 2' x 2', more realistic work called "Full Moon Rising".  It is the last one completed to date, however plans are developed for several others in this series which I call wood tapestry.

The photo of the last wood tapestry is shown on the right and I will point out construction details.   At the outset I must give credit to my wife, JoAnn, for the color scheme and painting.  We plan to collaborate on future pieces in this series.  The mountain and cloud shapes are made of elm wood.  The mountains pieces are cut like puzzle pieces and fastened with screws from the back.

The wood used along the bottom edge of the scene is Catclaw mimosa or "wait-a-minute" bush as dubbed locally.  The re-curved spines resemble a cats claw, hence the common name.  The rational for the nick name is obvious when you try walking through a thicket of this brush. The bush doesn't get large, but the wood has an interesting shape.  The sapwood is a light yellowish white and heart wood a deep reddish brown as shown unpainted in the wood tapestry above.

The curved yellow stick outlining the moon contains the many short pieces of saguaro ribs.  This gives the moon a myriad of craters.  The moon's light rays are simulated by the painted sections of saguaro rib.

I have enjoyed the simplicity and bright color scheme of this piece and it has drawn numerous positive comments.

Ed & JoAnn's website  <>

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Birdseye Maple and Vinigar #16

That is an ambiguous title so what does it mean?  I am going to tell you about one of my e/p vessels that I have just completed.  The main construction materials are Birdseye maple and resin.  This vessel is built around an empty, slender, glass vinegar bottle.  It was salvaged from my wife's kitchen and the wood was scrap from a cabinet shop.  As I use resin the excess from a job is always poured into a plastic pill bottle.  When the resin has hardened it can be removed from the bottle and shaped to fit the particular need.  In the photo below you can see the materials for Vessel e/p IV.
The bottle slips through the hole in the triangular box and the thick wood base on the left is fastened in place.  On the right side of the photo is a pile of Birdseye wood pieces cut to form bricks.  The rough shaped resin pieces for the sides and top of the vessel can also be seen close to the right of the box.

.The next photo show the application of the wood bricks on the sides of the vessel, leaving an area open for placement of resin half-spheres.  The top resin piece is fit around the bottle to make a liquid tight seal.  A resin top surface will be poured to hold it in place.

This third photo on the left show the grout has been placed between the bricks and the resin top has been poured.  Wood corner molding is in place and all surfaces have been sand smooth.  At this point, before the resin half-spheres are attached, we analyzed the design of the vessel as it had bothered us.  Who is this "we" you ask?  I am fortunate to have an artist with extensive experience and knowledge of design and color working with me; my wife JoAnn.

The fourth photo shows the finished vessel with a new top,cast over the original top piece.  This new top has more weight to balance the piece and just a slight change in radius to make it interesting.  The final photo, shown below gives a close-up view of the half-spheres which are a major part of the design.  If you have questions about any part of this post you can e-mail me at comcast
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