Casting the Jawbone

Photographs, river project, Work in Progress

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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.

STEPS

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. I mixed up a small amount of quick set alginate which I poured into the clay mould and left to set
  4. 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
  5. Another batch of quick set alginate was then poured over this, and left to set
  6. The clay was then removed, and the two halves of the mould separated and the jaw carefully removed.
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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

Wax Casts

Photographs, river project, Videos, Work in Progress

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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.

Unknown Landscapes/ Impromptu Pop up Show

Exhibitions, Photographs, river project, Videos

The above video is of my “Unknown Landscapes” piece in the end of term pop up exhibition ‘Impromptu’ held in uni, with work from both first and second year students. I wasn’t involved in the set up of the exhibition so I had no idea the video works would be displayed like this, with each screen slightly delayed from the previous screen to create this effect- but I really like it and think it is really effective in showing off my work!

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The images show my work at different stages on the screens, as well as shots of my classmates’ work. The exhibition was small but well curated and I feel that all the pieces worked well together in the space, despite being very different.

‘Hybrid.’ Work in Progress Exhibition

Exhibitions, Photographs, river project

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‘Hybrid.’ was our first exhibition on the course, and it opened on Friday 1st December for one week at the Two Girls Cafe in Peckham, consisting of work from both first and second year of MA Fine Art Digital.

I worked very hard to get my work finished for the exhibition- it took a lot of testing to get the moulds exactly the way I wanted them, and there were still small things I couldn’t fix. For example, most of the plastic bottle is still trapped inside the mould, as the heat compressed it too much and although I tried to cut the bottle out of the mould I was only partly successful- this was something I had to live with as it was not visible from the side on display and any further cutting would have damaged the piece beyond repair. As it was both the brick and wood casts had a few small tears in the plastic, but I positioned the pieces on the wall so that they were not visible, and as the wall was white I think the tears went unnoticed. Plastic can be a very unforgiving medium, so overall I am pleased with how my moulds turned out- the rope mould in particular captured a lot of detail and was visually very pleasing. Also regarding the presentation I did not use a tape measure or a spirit level, which would have made my pieces look much more professional, so these are two pieces of equipment I plan on investing in for future exhibitions, to avoid my work looking amateurish. Due to the nature of how the hot plastic warped and bent it was very difficult to cut the pieces neatly and to the same size- I used the laser cutter, but also had to use a ruler and scalpel to cut some of the parts that were too curved. As a result each piece was a slightly different size and shape, as it was impossible to get them perfect which was frustrating, but something I had to live with. The pieces did for the most part sit well against the wall once nailed in place though, which I was pleased about.

I definitely need to be more involved with the class moving forwards, as I did not have much input into the exhibition, beyond my own work, and I feel I let myself and the class down because of this. I hope to rectify this coming back for term 2 in January by being more proactive, and attending as many lectures and tutorials as I am able, so that I can fully engage with my peers and the topics we cover.

I think the work I put into Hybrid is the very definition of work in progress- it represents a turning point in my thinking, and is indicative of the struggles I have experienced in the last few months- it was not perfect or as polished as I would have liked, but I am very proud of myself for persevering and finishing the pieces in time for the exhibition. Going forwards I definitely want to try recreating more of my found objects in other mediums, such as ceramics, plaster, metal, and resin, to explore how the objects change and take on a new medium in other media and colours. I originally planned this project to be purely focused on making and processes, but seeing my work on the wall of the gallery space made me question why I chose the colour white, and why it is so overused in the art world. This has led me to a new topic for research- How and why is white used in the art world, and does it link to the inherent classism and racism that dominates the art world?

Macro Lens Shooting Part 2

Photographs, river project

 

 

 

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Further experiments with the macro lens, using my phone torch again to see how lighting from different angles changes the photograph. I also took some videos of this, which I need to edit together and upload to Vimeo, so that I can upload them here. I felt a little more confident this time round using the macro lens, although I definitely need more practice. I need to find out when the next etching induction will be, as I feel these photographs would look really beautiful enlarged and etched- I envision a series of large scale prints of sections of these photographs, as these could potentially look really beautiful. I am particularly inspired by the work of Jo Love for this project, in particular her large scale drawings of microscopic views of various materials.

The first image shows the set up for the photographs and filming- a white sheet of paper taped to a chair, with the tripod and camera set up in front of it. This was the best set up I found, as the table was too high with the tripod on the floor, but the tripod was too high when placed on the the table. I played with the settings on the camera, changing the aperture, setting it to white fluorescent lighting, setting a 2 second timer to minimise shake from my hand pressing the button, and using the manual focus to get the look I wanted for the photos.

Test Shoot of Bones With Macro Lens

Photographs, Work in Progress

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These photos are from my first time shooting with a macro lens, borrowed from the CLS. My objective was to zoom in and get close up shots of all the textures of some of the bones I had found and cleaned from the river. Whilst these textures are visible to the naked eye you cannot see as much as when a macro lens is used. After about half an hour of trying with no clue to what I was doing I decided to ask the photography technicians for help- We messed around with the white balance and set a timer to minimise the shake on the camera, and this drastically improved the photos taken. I also used the torch from my camera phone at different angles to test how the lighting would change the images. I planned on taking more photographs, but unfortunately the camera battery ran out and I needed to return the camera, tripod and lens to the CLS. I am very happy with how the images turned out, as they are much better than I could have hoped from my first attempt with a macro lens, and I am definitely going to try photographing not just other bones from my collection, but also the plastic bottle, pieces of glass and ceramic, and pieces of wood and shell, to see how the macro lens will enhance and change what can be seen.

Vacuum Forming Process (First Attempt)

Photographs, Work in Progress

Vacuum Forming Rope from the River Thames from Katherine Outten on Vimeo.

 

The following photographs are from my first attempt at vacuum forming. The first photo shows the rope and brick after being coated in the white plastic, the second and third are the plastic casts once I had removed the rope and brick from underneath, and the final photo is of the second cast made of the rope. The link above is to a video of the process of using the vacuum form machine, taken whilst making the second rope cast.

As mentioned in a previous post, the vacuum form machine had a lack of suction, so the casts (especially the second rope cast) were not as detailed as I had hoped. Once the machine is fixed I intend to redo these casts, and some others, to try and get as accurate casts as possible of the objects in white plastic. I may also experiment with other colours, to see how that changes things.

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Cleaning My Finds

Photographs, Work in Progress

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Photos of the cleaning process- I start by soaking my finds, in batches, in a bucket of just boiled water and bleach. I usually leave them overnight so that the bleach has time to really penetrate and kill off bacteria. I then remove them from the bucket, and refill the bucket with just boiled water, which everything gets thoroughly rinsed in- some of the objects may still have dirt clinging to them, so this is when I scrub them if needed. Once an object has been soaked, scrubbed, and rinsed it is placed on paper towels to dry. I then pat everything with the paper towels to make sure there is no moisture, and the objects are then ready to be taken in to uni to work with. As you can see I wear gloves right from the moment I pick the objects off of the beach, until they are fully cleaned, as I am very cautious about picking up bacteria or viruses from the river, and also to protect my hands from the bleach.

  1. objects soaking in the bleach and water
  2. some of the objects drying
  3. other drying objects
  4.   a section of jaw found with two teeth still attached
  5. a vertebrae
  6.  almost complete clay pipe