Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Successful Surgery

I'll spare you the photos of my arm. The Ulnar Nerve and trigger finger surgery is healing well. It may be a couple more weeks till I can get back to work but looks like I'll have a complete recovery.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Dunbar Wisconsin Vet Memorial

Just returned from Dunbar Wisconsin. This is an eagle I created for the Veterans Memorial they are building in their town park. It is a wonderful all volunteer effort.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Public Safety Bldg. Address

In case you want to see the sculpture in person it is at 2030 Arlington Ave. North in Duluth, MN

Duluth Public Safety Building Sculpture

I installed the plaque for the sculpture early this morning and took a few more pictures in the early morning light. We are now giving the studio a good and long over due clean up.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Duluth Public Art Project, Installed

Yesterday we installed the two figures at the Public Safety Building in Duluth. One more trip is required to finish, we didn't bring the plaque along to install that too.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Duluth Public Art Welding Done!

I want to invite you all to the studio, Last Chance Fabricating, 17 Railroad Drive, Lutsen, MN this Saturday June 23 from 10 till noon. We are going to have a send off party for the big sculptures. We will be serving doughnuts (Worlds Best) and coffee.
The welding is finished. Now just a little more grinding and then sand blasting and patina.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Finishing Up

welding the man's chest together

note the threaded rod and clamp, in casting pieces some warping occurs so we need to squeeze the pieces together to get a good fit

here we are, side by side, the arms are next, then the badges and equipment on the belts

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Assembling cast pieces

Summer intern Graham Johnson with the female Deputy 
The casting is all but finished (one more mold to pour). Welding the cast pieces together. So far everything is fitting well with a little persuasion. The wax pieces can warp a bit so after casting we sometimes need to squeeze parts together or apply a hammer blow or two to close the gap.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Visit from The Playlist

Steve Ash and Karen Sunderman of WDSE/WRPT along with Lester Morrison of Last Chance
Yesterday (7 May) was busy and fun here at the studio. Karen Sunderman and Steve Ash of the program "The Playlist" PBS North paid us a visit. Karen and Steve shot video of our work on the Duluth Public Art Project. Lester was working on the last wax (a piece we miss-cast earlier), I was welding and both Lester and I did a pour. We were also vitrifying the final round of molds to be cast and Steve shot some footage of the molds in the kiln. Look for broadcast of this segment later in May. I'll post here when I know the date. You can keep more up to date with the Playlist schedule here.

A few years ago Karen and Steve came to the studio to do a piece on our work here. You can see a portion of that show by clicking here. This video also shows Wayne Potratz my friend and mentor. I want to thank Karen and Steve for the terrific work they do on behalf of the art community in the north land. Having the exposure they are able to give us broadens our audience and gives us a sense of accomplishment.

It has been several weeks since I last posted but we have been working very hard. We have nearly all the casting done with only one mold failure. Not a bad ratio for the number of molds we have cast.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Duluth Public Art Progress, 13 April

Making good progress on the project. We are being extra careful on the mold making and adding insurance in the form of sand molds over our ceramic shell. This adds perhaps another hour per mold but insures we don't have to start from scratch if a mold fails.

Final 3 sections of the legs, all the debris in the background is waste. But if one of our shell molds were to fail we would not only have 30 pounds of molten bronze on the floor we would have to start the wax process over. The sand mold is insurance to prevent this from happening.

Make shift blower. To dry the shell cores (inside the mold). I found a sleep apnea pressure device that blows a gentle 8 cfm, split the pipe and put ends into mold. Works great!

Arms right out of the molds

Body section, because these are so big we are coating one side at a time. To prevent the wax from spreading out from the weight of the mold material screws are set next to the wax, blocks are underneath.

We will be casting body sections early next week and assembling of the casting will start right after that. By next weekend I should have the female figure pieced together, can't wait!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Duluth Public Art Faces and more

The female officers face

male officer

arm sections in the ceramic shell room with the first coat of liquid
The pictures of the faces are taken after the initial clean up and a quick sand blast. I'm pleased with how well the castings came out. The final 3 sections of legs are in the kiln and should be ready for a bronze pour tomorrow. The arms are in the first coat of the ceramic shell process.

Here at Last Chance Fabricating we use a product called Shellspen. It is a very good product and makes the process easier because we don't have to keep our liquid silica mix in constant agitation. I did this for a number of years with an elaborate mixing machine and lots of difficulty if the power went out.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Duluth Project Update

the wax heads ready for ceramic shell process

back of sections, the red wax, called sprues, act to channel the molten bronze to the pattern

the pieces after the first dip in the liquid silica 

second dip of liquid, allowed to drip off the excess

subsequent dips of liquid are followed by dry coats of stucco in progressively coarse grades  with 10 coats total

the completed refractory shells are now de-waxed, creating a cavity in the mold where the wax was

molds are placed in the kiln and brought up to 1800 degrees, that temp is held for one hour to vitrify the molds making them strong enough for the 2100 degree bronze

Man's face right after breaking away the mold

woman's face

It has been a busy couple of weeks around the studio. We have poured three times with good results in spite of having my pyrometer (used to check the temperature of the molten bronze) die on me. Other troubles have been four trips to the dentist for a problem tooth and infection and smashing my head on a sculpture resulting in a gash on my forehead. Just your average times at the sculpture studio.  I am, however, very pleased at the outcome of our efforts.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ceramic Shell Molds

Here are 10 of the more than 30 molds we will need for the Duluth Public Art Project.
These are 3 leg sections (2 have been completed) and the badges and arm patches. These molds are half way through the dipping and stuccoing procedure. Next round of molds I will take a few more pictures to help explain the process.
When these are finished we will start pouring bronze and should be pouring twice a week for the next 4 weeks.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Preparing waxes for investment

Lester doing wax work

body sections, some with sprues added

wax heads and arms
The past two weeks Lester has been using the molds we created from the clay figures. He is brushing wax into the molds to create the hollow wax copy of the original sculpture. The red tubes you see in the pictures are wax as well. The red wax creates a system to introduce bronze into the pattern (sprues)  and to evacuate the air as the bronze is poured in (vents). I have been sculpting the patterns for the details, badges and shirt patches.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Polytek Spray mold system

Removing metal shims, you can see the flange dividing the figure in half.  After this step we sprayed on the rubber mold material.

Here I am prepared to spray on the plastic mother mold. Note two red pegs sticking up on the figure. Lester had the idea of using rubber grommets embedded in the plastic to help facilitate removal of the mold.

Spraying action shot. The loaded gun weighs almost 15 pounds. It was worth while to build the figures to be able to lay them down horizontally. Much easier to spray down and much less over spray.

Lester using air pressure to help release the mold.

Mold sections, even though we used air pressure to release we ended up peeling clay off the armature. Actually , this works very well as it's easier to reclaim the clay.

Of the 20 molds we made this way we only broke one. The plastic material was easily repaired with a 2 part epoxy made for plastic repair.

The face after peeling off the mold. This scrapes off the ears and damages the figure. No matter the molds are perfect.

These are photos of  the female figure taken over the last two days. It shows how we are using the Polytek Spray Mold making system.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A more feminine Deputy

A much less bulky body, thinner face and more friendly expression although the harsh light hitting her face isn't the most flattering. Her pony tail doesn't show here either. If you look back in the blog the difference is apparent.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thank you Polytek

Molds are now finished on the male officer. The Polytek mold system worked very well.

The back half of the figure with the plastic mother mold sprayed on.  When we are working on the female figure I will try to get a volunteer to take some pictures of that process. With the two of us we can't take action shots, just too much going on.

Lester trimming the flange with a jig saw.

Lester holding the first section of mold peeled off the clay,

This shows a mold section, blue is flexible rubber, white is the plastic mother mold

All the molds fastened together with bolts. We drilled through the flange before peeling the molds apart. I managed to manhandle one of the molds and broke off part of the flange. No worries though it will still work just fine.

Stripping the clay from the armature. We save the clay for the next project.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The other side of the piece.
The arms set up and sprayed with the rubber.

This morning we sprayed on the plastic mother mold over the front half of the mold. That material goes on very quickly and sets up in a few minutes. We flipped over the sculpture and sprayed on the rubber material on the back half and sprayed the arms. Don't tell Lester but I forgot to spray release agent on one of the arms. That oversight will make getting the rubber off the clay a chore but won't hurt anything but my reputation. The rubber will cure overnight and we will then spray on the plastic mother mold.

I definitely am glad I went through the trouble of making these figures sturdy enough to lay them down. It made spraying them much easier with far less wasted material. The shop stayed cleaner too. The gun loaded with spray material weighs about 15 pounds. It is very tiring to hold up for several hours at a time while working.