Exhibitions, river project, WWCD

A little virtual tour of the online exhibition THIS IS NOT A SHOW, showcasing the work of over 50 working class artists and creatives from the Working Class Creatives Database at Pineapple Black Arts, with a brief look at my work included in the show.
‘𝔗𝔥𝔦𝔰 𝔦𝔰 𝔫𝔬𝔱 𝔞 𝔰𝔥𝔬𝔴. 𝔗𝔥𝔦𝔰 𝔦𝔰 𝔞 𝔰𝔱𝔞𝔱𝔢𝔪𝔢𝔫𝔱 𝔬𝔣 𝔦𝔫𝔱𝔢𝔫𝔱.’
With workingclasscreativesdatabase.co.uk/
⚡️launched on pineappleblack.co.uk/index.php/pbvarts/⚡️

�The Working Class Creatives Database is a platform highlighting the work of people who are working class, giving a supporting structure to people that are involved in the arts.

�As of 2020, only 16% of the workforce in creative industries identify as being from working-class backgrounds. By creating a platform for working-class creatives this begins to readdress these issues within the sector through creating a voice for those that are otherwise outsiders.

Special thanks to @pineappleblackarts for giving us a virtual space and @highbrowart for the poster design.

Weekly Blog 01/07/19 – 03/07/19

river project

Monday 01/07/19

  • Did some more work on my aluminium pieces in the morning, but decided to leave them for now, to get my space ready as much as possible
  • I’m not sure if it will be doable to finish them in time, as the aluminium has proven much more difficult to work with than the bronze- most of the bones have holes where they shouldn’t where the metal shrunk in the mould, there are feathered bits and lumps where there shouldn’t be any and I’m having to work entirely with hand tools
  • I spoke to Ed about it, and he has offered to bring his dremel in tomorrow, so I may tackle them again once I have everything else set up

 

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  • The rest of my day was spent prepping and installing, with Janet helping me sweep the space before I mopped it
  • I tested out my objects on the blank table (forgot to take a pic) and I have decided on:

– the bronzes- most people will not get to touch bronze sculptures in galleries, and they have a weight to them that is really pleasing to hold

– ceramics- the familiarity of ceramic dishware, but the precious nature of them being sculptures is an interesting dynamic

– pink silicone- it’s a really fun material to play with and handle, and adds a splash of colour

– glass wax- there is something both familiar and unfamiliar about this material that I find really fascinating, and I think the audience will too

– plastic 3D prints- plastic is a familiar material to us all, but these 3D prints are made with tech that not many of us get the chance to use currently, and I feel that is an interesting dynamic

  • When I laid these all out on the table I realised it didn’t leave enough room for the screen, so I have reverted to an earlier plan of the installation, with the Mac, keyboard, and mouse on top of two plinths, that I painted white today, against the back wall.
  • This also solves the health and safety issue of the Mac wire, as the plug socket is high up on the wall next to the Mac
  • I also filled the holes on my table and repainted it white today, before using a projector and my pre-made vector file of the river to draw the outlines of the river onto the table, before painting it blue
  • (Had to get the paint mixed specially in the DIY store today)

 

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Tuesday 02/07/19

  • touched up the paint on the table a little bit, and got it up onto the trestle legs
  • worked some more on the aluminium pieces, but the dremel bit got instantly clogged with the aluminium, so I had to work with the files and saw again- they still aren’t up to my standards, but I have spent 3 days working on them and don’t have the time or willpower to finish them for the show, so they will not be featured
  • It’s a shame that I wasn’t able to get them finished to the standard I wanted, but I would prefer not to put them in, rather than put them in half finished- especially given the high standard that I have finished my other objects to
  • Close up photos of the bits that need fixing below

 

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  • Downloaded Meshmixer onto the Mac I will be using in the exhibition today, and also made a 2 minute video demonstrating the basics of using Meshmixer- how to rotate the 3D model, how to zoom in and out, and some of the tools you can use on the programme and what they do- added below
  • This is on the Mac in my room, on the desktop, alongside the bone file, which will be open on Meshmixer onscreen for the audience to play with
  • All I need to do tomorrow is lay out my objects on the table top, and maybe try to find a cleaner keyboard and mouse for the Mac as the ones I have are very grubby and dirty looking- Jonathan is sorting out the stools for me
  • I also painted the edges of the table white today, so that it looks more professional than the raw mdf

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  • Picked up the other two big bone 3D prints today but they ran out of filament half way through printing, so I have two half prints
  • It’s kind of interesting that you can see the internal structure- they aren’t solid, instead they are made up of a similar structure to the external supports, but more solid and closer together, to create a stronger structure

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Wednesday 03/07/19

  • I have used the half finished big bone 3D prints to prop open the windows in my space- it’s very small and gets very stuffy, so if I want the audience to actually sit and interact with my work for any length of time the windows definitely need to be open!
  • The objects are laid out on the table, and as I have left the aluminum pieces out I do not need to put gloves on the table
  • Jonathan tracked down a cleaner mouse and keyboard for me, which I have set up in the space, and I have made the 3D bone model on Meshmixer full screen to encourage the audience to play with it, I just need the stools which Jonathan is tracking down, so otherwise my space is ready!

 

 

Glass Wax Tests 11/01/19

Photographs, river project, UNIT 2, Videos, Weekly Summaries, Work in Progress

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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.

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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

 

Practical Work To Do List

river project, Weekly Summaries, Work in Progress
  • Buy saucepan for glass wax
  • Use existing moulds to make glass wax casts
  • Use existing moulds to make jesmonite casts (plaster casts didn’t work)
  • Finish bronzes and aluminium casts
  • Go back to riverbank and find plastic bottle (and other things?)
  • Cast bottle in foundry (?)
  • Use existing moulds to use eco resin? – Speak to Jonathan in 3D
  • Find 3D scanning/printing place and look into costs

I would like to get as much of this done by January as pos, so I can start casting my objects in Ceramics in the 2nd term

Process Video for Casting the Bricks

river project, Videos, Work in Progress

 

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.

This video shows the process of putting the wax bricks into plaster moulds, ready to be fired in the kiln. This stage was the lengthiest part of the whole process, and shows at least 3 weeks worth of work in the foundry- whilst waiting for layers to dry I was also working on the wax bones and prepping those using the same process, to make the best use of my time.

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!

Putting the Waxes into Moulds

river project, Work in Progress

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These photos show the process of prepping my wax bones for the kiln.
Process:

  • 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!

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.

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!

Low Residency- one day monoprinting workshop

river project, Work in Progress

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A one day monoprinting workshop during the Low Residency.
The photos above show the process of monoprinting- I started off with some large print outs of a few of the macro photos I took of the bones, and inked up a plate with a roller. To make the prints I put a sheet of paper down onto the inked up plate, with one of the print outs on top of that. I then carefully drew over the photo with a pencil, applying harder pressure to create a darker mark, and lighter pressure for lighter marks and shading. Unfortunately the first few attempts didn’t work so well, as the paper I had chosen to print on was too thick, so not a lot of the lighter details were picked up. I then experimented with different mark making techniques on the thick paper and also on newsprint, until I was happy.

The smaller print and ghost print* (rectangular shaped) were made by soaking the thicker paper in water and then making the prints, but due to the amount of detail I was trying to capture the paper dried before I finished the print, meaning it didn’t come out as well as I was hoping. I ran the plate through the press with the second soaked sheet any way, to make the ghost print (black print with white lines).

To make the larger, better print, and the ghost print made from that, I used newsprint, as it didn’t need to be soaked, and picked up even the lighter marks made on the paper. I spent about an hour and half on this print as I really wanted to capture all of the tiny details from the photograph, and overall I am pleased with how this came out! I then ran the plate through the press with a second sheet to get the ghost print. One of the issues with newsprint is how fragile it is, and also that it discolours over time, but this could work in my favour, as the gradual transition of the paper will mimic how bones discolour over time with age, which is quite beautiful.

For a one day project I am very pleased with how the prints came out, and I had fun with the process. I think based on these outcomes that the macro photos would look very beautiful if I photo etched them, so this is something I may consider doing in the future.

* a ghost print is a print made from the negative of the original print- in this case when you remove the sheet of paper from the inked up plate wherever you have made a mark the ink will have transferred to the paper, giving you a positive print. To make a negative you then run the plate through the press with another sheet of paper, and this gives you a negative or ‘ghost’ print.