Photo-essays of several procedures:
Sculpture in MDF
18" x 15" x 12"
There were two goals in this piece: an expression of flight, and a metamorphosis of the Icon. It was first made fully into an Icon and then shaped to the new form. Future versions of this piece will be made in glass and steel. The following slides show steps in the process.
Graphite is one of the three natural forms of carbon - amorphous (coal), graphite, and diamond. It is stable, heat resistant, and conductive and so has electrical applications. For my purposes, the last two qualities are key. Graphite may be purchased in blocks of all shapes and sizes. In glass work, graphite blocks are carved and used as molds and hand tools for molten glass. It may be used in the same way for molten soft metals such as gold, copper or silver. Graphite itself is soft and is carved with ease and may be formed into sculpture. Polished graphite yields a deep chrome luster.
Unfortunately, a material this stable and impervious, is not something one wants to inhale. Therefore, care must be taken when carving. Quality filter masks – not painter's or surgical masks – are required. I do active carving outdoors – preferably over grass if I'm using power tools and removing a lot of material. A driveway may seem ideal, but a new, red Subaru Legacy dusted to a uniform dull gray is not a pretty sight.
For Lucy - the process shown below - stainless steel hex nuts were TIG fused within the mold. For the piece, Ajna antique wood flooring nails were bent to conform to the profile and then bronze brazed with an oxy-propane torch. In the case of, Steel mild steel ball bearings were positioned in the mold and then fused with a MIG welder. Following each procedure, the mold is easily polished and prepped for the next.
The current series uses a carved negative half-mold which can be worked repeatedly at high temperatures to create glass and metal sculptures. This is a relatively new process and three pieces have been produced so far. Simply carving the mold – which arrived as a 40 lb manhole cover sized plate - was a two month period of sessions and tasks. These ranged from carving an initial 'positive' plug in foam as a concept piece, to sketching and cutting plywood templates with which to determine that the 'negative' mold in graphite matched the concept piece.
This piece begins with the graphite mold discussed in: Graphite.
A patina was created on the polished steel of the frame using a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and salt, and then sealed with Penetrol. This took a day.
Finally, bronze brazing wire used as piping was installed in the four brackets.
AJNA (third eye)
Using the mold as a fixture, antique flooring nails were bent, placed, and brazed using bronze rod and an oxy-propane torch. Once two halves were created, a steel frame was designed and MIG welded together. The circular inner bracket for the blue glass was created in steel rod and welded to one of the two Icon halves. Fine art glass was placed into the four brackets, and into the center ring. The two halves of the Icon were then welded permanently together.
Lucy was created in several steps. The first was fusing approximately 1,500 stainless steel hex nuts in the aforementioned graphite mold.
The two halves were joined and then soaked in vinegar for several days to clean the metal.
A stainless steel mount was cut and welded to the base of the Icon ('skull'), and then polished.
Next, all the parts for the steel base were cut, prepped, and welded.
The base is designed to give a natural height to the Icon, so that the viewer is 'face-to-face' with Lucy.
A patina was created over the base to give a note of age, and sealed.
A section of granite was selected and cut / polished by a local stone outlet. Once in the studio, four holes were drilled using a wet/diamond bit.
The patina of the base and the luster of the stainless steel mount, free the Icon (Lucy) to possess her own quality.
Lucy is a concept piece. It is an homage to an early hominin find in Ethiopia: Australopithecus afarensis, nicknamed - Lucy. The piece unites the person who Lucy was (and it is meaningful to remember that she was a person), her lineage to us, the searchers who discovered her, and the technicians who delicately reassemble all such precious finds - incomplete, distorted, and missing structure. The Icon in this piece offers a duality between the frailties of material and the perfection of meaning.
Steel is one of a series of pieces being produced from the same graphite mold. See the Graphite section for details. Graphite has the property of heat resistance to several thousand degrees. With care, metal and glass may be worked inside of a graphite form used as a jig, or as a mold. In the case of, Steel – mild steel bearings were placed inside the mold using sand for positioning. The bearings were gathered into the desired shape and then MIG welded. The welding produced an organic, marine texture over the two forms produced. These forms were aligned into a cross-section of the Icon template and welded to a steel rod mount. At this point, the piece was cleaned and prepped for patina, which was applied and then sealed. Finally, 3/8” steel plate was cut and welded to form a base. The base was ground and brought to a high polish to create stark contrast in two conditions of steel: one of deep 'marine' oxidation, and the other of bright polish.