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.

Foundry Work: Burn out

river project, Videos, Work in Progress

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I haven’t updated in a while, as I have been busy physically making work in the foundry this term, which takes up a lot of my physical and mental energy- it is a very hands on, time consuming process, and at the time of writing this I have no finished pieces, as my first mould did not work.

The photos above show the process of making the mould.

  1. The bones were first pressed into clay, which then had plaster poured over the top of it. This photo shows the second stage, where the clay has been removed and cleaned away, to reveal the bones embedded into the plaster
  2. The next stage was to join each of the bones together with soft wax sausages, moulded by hand- this would later become the channels that the metal ran through
  3. The soft wax sausages then needed larger hard wax tubes attached, using hot knives heated over a Bunsen burner to melt and attach them- the top tubes would become channels for the hot metal to run through, and the bottom ones were for ventilation. The wax and bones then needed to be de-greased so that the grog (a special mix of plaster) would stick to it
  4. I then began layering on the grog, carefully over the wax and bones, so as not to damage or dislodge them, extending the wax tubes at the top of the mould as I did so
  5. This photo shows the additional wax tubes added as I applied grog- the joins on the wax tubes were wrapped with the soft wax to strengthen them
  6. Another stage in the grog process
  7. At this point the mould was stood upright, using more grog, onto the board I was working on, and the wax tubes further extended
  8. Once it was upright I then needed to build soft wax around a paper cup, to create the funnel for the top of the mold, which was then attached to the wax tubes. I added more grog as I went along for support, as the wax tubes were very fragile, and the cup was heavy from the added wax
  9. I then made a cylinder out of plastic using plastic sheeting and duct tape, to fit around the mould. To keep it in place I used fabric dipped in plaster to create a band around the middle of the mould, about halfway up (for support) and more of the fabric dipped in plaster around the bottom (to seal the plastic to the board)
  10. The next stage was to make the second coat grog mix (it is made with ludo instead of fine casting plaster) and carefully fill the cylinder to the top with this mix. This had to be done slowly, in stages, to prevent the heavy mixture from damaging the rest of the mould, and also to make sure it was completely filled.
  11. Once it was set Becky (the technician) removed the plastic layer, and covered the outside in fabric dipped in plaster to make a sturdy outer layer, and the mould was then fired in the kiln at a very high temperature to melt the wax and burn out the bone fragments. This photo shows the mould once it had been filled with molten bronze and left to set

The video above shows the pouring process in the foundry, done by Becky and another technician. My mould is the middle one!

12. This photo shows Becky removing the outer layer from my mould
13. We then began to smash my mould open (carefully) to see if it had worked
14. This photo shows the broken mould- you can see the metal has filled the cup and the top of the wax channels, but stops at the bones
15. The fragments of bone in my hand- this mould failed as the kiln did not get hot enough to burn the bones out, meaning the metal had nowhere to go.

I was very disappointed that this mould failed, but it was an experiment, and myself and Becky realised that the kiln was not going to be able to reach the kind of temperature we needed without it breaking my mould. This mould took me nearly two months to complete, as I had to wait between each step to check with Becky that I was doing it right, and to ask what the next stage was, as it was my first time doing this, but I am already halfway on the shell mould. This is because once you know what you are doing it is much easier to just get on and do it, which I will continue to do! Also I have only been in the foundry 3 days a week, as Wednesdays it shuts at 12.30 and I struggle to get in early enough, and Fridays it is shut. Going forwards I plan to finish the shell burn out mould (hopefully it will work) and also continue making wax versions of some of my bigger bones, to make into a mould. My next post will show the process of making a hot rubber mould, and waxes from that!

‘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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