- Rachel Whiteread- notes. photos- November 2017
- Manchester gallery visits- December 2017
- Update project proposal to fit guidelines
- siligum moulds of jaw bones- photos, ect – Mid July
- post photos and process of prepping moulds for kiln- dated mid July
- post photos and process of pour- dated mid July
- post photos and process of breaking moulds open and cleaning casts- mid July
- post photos and process of getting rid of excess metal from casts- mid July
- video and photos of patination – mid July
- Videos and photos of work in show- end of July
- Photos and drawings from Tate Britain- August
- Upload tutorial notes (scans) and research paper mind maps/notes – dates written on them
- Summer drawings- August
- Prop making and drag research stuff – August
- I can’t help the way I feel- emails, video, photos, etc – October
I won’t lie, I’ll never be 100% happy with this, as it is too deep a topic to thoroughly explore in 3000-4000 words, but I am very pleased that I managed to finish, despite my mental health being very bad over the last four months. I can’t deny that the majority of this paper was written in the last month… cough… week… cough… day… but even still I am deeply proud of myself for persevering and getting it done on time.
This short clip shows how I have been using an electric engraving tool to work details back into the surface of the brick wherever it was lost due to the casting process. The shiny parts are where I have used an angle grinder or Dremel tool previously to get rid of runners, risers, and other imperfections on the surface of the bronze. I have to take frequent breaks when using these tools, and swap hands often, as the vibration from the tool makes my wrists ache, but otherwise it is fairly simple to use. As always I follow safety protocol, wearing a visor, ear protection, dust mask, and gloves to protect myself, as well as having the extractor fan on and handling all tools safely and responsibly.
I was worried that the process might be unclear from the step-by-step and photo posts, so whilst making the brick moulds in July I recorded video clips, as well as taking photos, to better showcase the lengthy process behind casting in metal in the foundry.
Unfortunately some of the clips are poorer quality than others as they hadn’t automatically backed up on my Google Photos, so I had to download them from my Instagram instead. Going forwards I am going to be much more careful about backing up my documentation. I was also a bit under the weather at the time of recording the audio for this video, so I am a little bit breathy, and stumble on my words a bit, which I have tried my best to edit out. This is actually the 3rd attempt at making this video, as the first and second time it didn’t save properly, but 3rd time’s the charm!
On another note, I am deeply sad that Becky, the foundry technician, has moved to teach at Chelsea as we got on really well and she has helped me a LOT with this project. Good luck at Chelsea Becky, we’ll (I’ll) miss you!
Photos taken by me“
A solo performer in a squash-like costume inhabits the Duveen Galleries every day for more than six months for the Tate Britain Commission 2018. Each element of The Squash has evolved from Hamilton’s interest in a photograph she found in a book several years ago when looking at improvisational theatre and participatory art practices in the 1960s and 1970s. It showed a person dressed as what looks like a vegetable lying among vines. The original photograph dated from 1960 and depicted a scene from a dance by American choreographer Erick Hawkins. Hawkins was interested in Native American philosophies and he took the form of this costume from the Squash Kachina of the Hopi culture.
The performer selects their outfit for the day from a collection of seven elaborate costumes. Each one is inspired by the original image and by different kinds of squash or pumpkin. The length of the galleries’ terrazzo floor has been tiled in domestic-scale white tiles to create a new environment within Tate Britain’s neoclassical architecture. ”
– taken from the Tate Britain webpage
I recently visited Tate Britain to run a summer school workshop and whilst I was there I got to see one of the performances for The Squash, which I did some blind contour drawings of, below. I tried to capture the movement of the performer, as well as the shapes created by the performer and their interaction with the costume (in particular the large squash head piece), and I felt blind contour drawings would be best for this, as the lines are more fluid, and once made are permanent. I experimented with different pens- fine liners, biro, and felt tips, to vary the quality of line, and as you can see some are far more sketchy and hesitant, whereas others are bold and simplistic.
This piece was very enjoyable to watch, as at times it felt like the performer was responding to the audience in the space, and at other times it felt like they were in their own world, inhabiting the physical space whilst not being quite present. Regarding the costume, I particularly liked how it obscured the performers gender- the ruffles and design of it removed the idea of gender from the performance, as well as any other distinguishing features, giving the performer a sense of other worldliness and detaching the viewer from any preconceived notions of gender.
I have recently become interested in performance work for myself- I have always admired performance artists, but had firmly decided for myself that it wasn’t for me, and would probably never become part of my artistic practice. However lately, as my drag project idea has developed, I have found myself considering the idea of taking my drag persona out as a performance. I think the reason I never considered performance for my own practice is largely my lack of confidence in front of large groups, and my fear of being judged or laughed at by others, but I think that challenging myself to perform as part of my art might actually help me to build my confidence. I feel like the gallery space is almost a kind of safe space for artists to try out new things and perform as a character without fear, as audiences are perhaps more open to it, than if I was to take the performance out into a more public space. This piece of work has definitely inspired me to give it a go, and I think it is something I will try in the near future!
Whilst at the Tate I also did some blind contour drawings of pieces from the permanent collection, shown below.
These photos show the process of prepping my wax bones for the kiln.
- I started by pressing the waxes into clay, separated by a layer of cling film to make it easier to remove the clay at a later stage. I built up the clay a little to help hold the waxes in place
- I then joined the waxes to create runners (where the metal would flow through) and risers (where the metal rises out of) using wax tubes, straws, and sausages of soft wax, depending on the thickness of each bone. I added additional runners made of soft wax to any points on the bone that were smaller, thinner, or looked like they would benefit from it and joined them onto thicker parts of the bones or onto the main runners
- Once I was happy with how the runners and risers and I had degreased them with meths (to help the grog stick) I then began to layer up the first coat grog mix (2:1 grog and herculite) starting off with a paintbrush to work it into the details of the bones. As the mixture thickened I then pressed it on and built it up around the waxes, making sure not to cover the main runners and risers (the pieces you can see sticking out)
- When the grog had been built up enough and left to dry I then flipped them over, removing the clay and cling film, so that I could repeat the process of layering up the first coat grog
- I then needed to extend the runners and risers further, bringing the risers at the bottom up to the top, layering with more grog as I went along, for support
- As I did this Becky built up a base with grog, which we then used to stand up the separate parts of the mould, building the grog round the sides until it was stable
- Next we had to get the cup onto the runners, using hot knives to join them and soft wax for additional support
- Because of the heat we had to degrease and add more grog around the runners for support as we went, as we left one over night only to find that the wax had curved over in the heat
- I then extended the runners using hot knives to join the pieces of wax tube, and bring them up to the top of the cup, again degreasing and layering grog as I went for support
- The next stage was to fit a sheet of plastic around the whole thing, which we secured with duct tape, before mixing a batch of normal fine casting plaster. We then dipped some scrim into the plaster and used this to secure the plastic to the base- working extra plaster in to waterproof the join. We also tied some plaster dipped scrim around the middle of each mould to help stabilise it ready for the 2nd coat grog to go in
- This isn’t shown in the photos but we then filled the mould gradually with 2nd coat grog (1:1:1 grog, ludo and plaster then 2:1 ludo and plaster) until it was to the top of the cup and left it to set
We made 3 moulds this way with the wax bones inside, but I will be uploading a more in-depth video showing the process of the two wax brick moulds once I have finished editing it!
- Secret Lives of Colour, book
- Theodore Adorno- colour/white
- reconciling the conceptual and the making process, balancing
- Tim Pickup, papier mache work (Drag project ref)
- Email Jonathan about video game and he will forward it on to MA Illustration
- papier mache bones?
- Could the drag crossover into the video game? Could I make characters for the game out of papier mache?
- build my desk!!
- work out how I will balance work, making, and research paper over the summer
- 3D print branch, bones, bottle, brick, rope? Where?
- final outcome + outcome of the show
- Science- human and the mind, how the human mind works regarding disgust- BCC programme on it, check BOB, research disgust
- research materials and perceptions
- galleries and hospitals- why white?
- does black enhance/dull some colours?
- grey for Adobe programmes- why?
- white primed canvasses, Pre-Raphelite, better for showing up bright colours
Casting the jawbone raised a host of issues that I didn’t realise would be a problem, but hopefully it will work out in the end. Before we could make a hot rubber mould of the jawbone Becky (the technician) and I decided to make a plaster cast of the jaw, as we felt it would be too fragile to make a hot rubber mould from directly.
- Before we could begin casting I had to fill in the holes in the jaw (where the rest of the teeth originally were) with soft wax, so that it would be easier to cast. I also used a little superglue to secure the two teeth- we were worried that they may have come out of the jaw when we de-moulded it, so this was a preventative measure.
- I then pressed the jaw carefully into some clay and built up clay walls around it, and then applied a few layers of vegetable oil to the jaw to help release it from the mould once the alginate had set
- I mixed up a small amount of quick set alginate which I poured into the clay mould and left to set
- Once this had set I carefully removed the clay and rinsed the jaw and alginate, before greasing it up with more oil, and building up clay walls around it
- Another batch of quick set alginate was then poured over this, and left to set
- The clay was then removed, and the two halves of the mould separated and the jaw carefully removed.
- After cleaning both halves of the mould I fit them together and secured them with elastic bands, and was then ready to pour fine casting plaster into it
- The first attempt didn’t work very well and only the thickest section of the jaw came out, so for the second attempt after pouring in the plaster I moved the mould around to encourage the plaster to flow through the whole mould
- Once I opened the mould up I realised one half had not worked out, and the other half, where all the detail was, was too thin- to fix this I cut up scrim and layered that and some more plaster on top of it until it was thicker and stronger
- I then de-moulded it and created a hot rubber mould from that plaster cast. Because the detail was lost on one side I decided to make a flat mould, rather than a round one that needed to be cut open, to save materials
- The final photo on the slideshow is of the original jaw, first failed plaster cast, second plaster cast, and de-moulded wax cast of the jaw- as you can see there are a lot of details that need to be worked back into the wax by hand, but I am confident that it is doable
Photos of the wax casting process- melting the wax in a saucepan before leaving it to cool to pouring temperature (the wax needs to be cool enough that it coats the side of the pan), then pouring into the secured moulds, including the larger brick mould, before de-moulding and removing excess wax/working the details back in.
Video of two wax casts, fresh from the mould- you can see that there is excess wax that needs to be removed, and some of the details need to be worked back in to the casts.
Video made up of a clip showing the second, larger batch, of wax casts fresh from the moulds, followed by a clip of me working on one of these casts to remove excess wax and work a hole back into the cast to mimic the original bone. The final photo is of the wax cast from the previous clip next to the original bone I cast it from- you can see that I have worked some of the details lost during the hot rubber mould process back into the wax cast.
The two clips in this video show the first hollow wax cast of the brick I found on the river, and the second cast next to the original brick- you can see how the hot rubber mould picked up most of the detail from the brick, and how that has translated to the wax casts. You might notice some lines on the casts- this is because to make a hollow cast you need to pour in the wax slowly and roll the mould gently around to ensure the wax coats the mould properly- I did this too slowly so there are lines visible. Next time I use the mould I will be careful to pour the wax faster to avoid this happening- I may melt these two casts down and redo them. The brick casts need to be hollow as to make a solid bronze of that size would be too costly, and too heavy. I will either have to leave the hole in the bottom, or weld a small piece of metal over the hole, but this is something I will tackle when I get to that stage.
Unfortunately this was all I was able to get done before the workshops closed for the break, but I am looking forward to getting back into the foundry/plaster room and continuing my work! The plan is to make at least two of each bone in wax, and then make at 2 – 4 large moulds to go into the kiln and then be poured, as I want a copy of each bone in aluminium and in bronze. I have also been shown a material called glass wax, which is used in the film industry to make objects that mimic glass, and if I can afford it I would like to experiment with this medium as well, as it will give me another material and colour to analyse.
Whilst working on the burn out moulds that didn’t work I also decided to make a few batches of hot rubber moulds. The process is lengthier, but once the final plaster mould is fired in the kiln the waxes will melt out leaving hollow spaces for the molten metal to be poured into.
To start the rubber needs to be melted in the machine, by being fed into the top, and the press placed on top of it, using gravity to push it down to melt. It then drips out of the bottom into a bucket to be poured. Whilst it is melting I prepared the objects, by applying vegetable oil to each object for easier release from the moulds, then embedding them into clay, creating tunnels with the clay for objects that were going to be solid (although for the brick shown in the photos this was not necessary as I wanted it to be hollow and this required one side to pour in the wax). I then made a tube out of metal or plastic secured with duct tape, and pressed it into the clay bases around the objects. The tube then needed to be waterproofed with extra clay, ready for the melted rubber to be poured in. The next step was to pour the hot rubber into the moulds, and leave it to set. Once it was set I then made a basic plaster mix and poured this into the leftover space in the moulds of the bones (not the brick) to create a flat base for them to rest on.
When the plaster had set I then removed the metal/plastic tube and the clay from the moulds, and flipped them the right way up, using a craft knife as shown to make a few cuts into each mould, to allow me to remove the objects from the moulds. Once this was done they needed to be thoroughly washed to remove clay residue, and then secured with elastic bands or duct tape ready to pour the wax into.