Some photos taken of the process of casting with glass wax- the melting glass wax, the casts full of glass wax, and photos of the failed jaw bone casts and brick cast. Casting the brick hollow with glass wax is proving troublesome- the wax is very brittle and the sides of the cast keep breaking as I try to de-mould it. I will try one more time to cast it hollow but a bit thicker and if that doesn’t work I might have to cast it solid instead. The jaw bone pieces kept failing as the glass wax is too thick and not hot enough to flow all the way through the moulds- I will try to get it hotter next time, but I have to be careful in case the wax gets too hot and the colour changes.
Video demonstrating the properties of glass wax and the casting process.
I wanted to explore the properties and materiality of glass wax, and these are the results so far.
Clip 1: the chunk of unmelted glass wax, demonstrating what it looks like before it is melted and cast- you can see how the light refracts and passes through it.
Clip 2 and 3: the glass wax as it melts, showing the viscosity and how it stretches and flows much like real glass when in molten form. It is very different to other waxes I have used in the past.
Clips 4 and 5: the first attempts at casting the jaw bones in glass wax- as you can see the wax didn’t flow completely through the moulds as it was not hot enough and cooled too fast. I will try again but with the wax much hotter so hopefully it will flow through the moulds properly.
The rest of the clips: the other bone casts in glass wax.
These photos show the second attempt at casting the jaw bones in glass wax (still not hot enough), the glass wax casts all together, the broken hollow brick cast (the details were captured beautifully, it’s just a shame that the sides broke), and one of the glass wax casts lit by Jonathan’s phone torch- as an experiment to see how light travels through them. I think going forwards I would like to photograph the glass wax pieces with a light source beneath them like this, but using a more professional set up.
Notes on glass wax:
- Properties- melts differently to waxes I have used in the past (i.e. the green and orange waxes used in uni, soy wax, paraffin wax, beeswax)
- As it melts it goes quite stringy and is still very thick and viscous, can be stretched into glass-like threads that look like nylon thread
- It sets VERY quickly and needs to be quite hot to pour well, but you have to be super careful not to overheat it as it can make the wax change colour
- You can add oil paint as a pigment to glass wax, but I’m more interested in how it looks originally- like a translucent glass
- I might do one or two in colour just to see what it looks like, but we’ll see
- It is quite brittle- I tried to make a hollow brick cast and the sides shattered (like glass) as I tried to remove the cast- if I retry this I will need to make it thicker
- It picks up detail really beautifully and I’m definitely impressed
- I need to redo the jaw bones in glass wax as the wax wasn’t hot enough and as a result didn’t flow through the moulds properly
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.
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!
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.
Shot with a macro lens on a DSLR camera, closeups of bones found along the river, using a moving light source to illuminate the bones. If anyone would like to create some sound to go with this video then please contact me! I have little experience in sound art and music, and would love to have some accompanying sound.
I am actually very pleased with how this work turned out, as it was only my second time using a macro lens, and I feel I captured the beauty and detail in the bones perfectly through this medium. For such a simple experiment I think I have created one of my favourite pieces of work, and I would like to explore this further in the future. My only regret is that currently the video has no sound, and I feel it could be greatly enhanced by it. I might go back to the spots where I found the bones along the river and record some of the sounds- I could then layer these sounds with the video and play around with it.
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.
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.