Thursday, April 30, 2015

Creating 3D Outside the Computer

I guess the theme of my last year as an undergrad is stepping outside of my comfort zone. Not only am I faced with worknig more abstractly, this semester I'm trying to learn a new skill, casting in metal. Now, I've worked in 3D before, but I've only worked on a computer, where there is an undo button and there's very little danger of injury. I've always been interested in making my own jewelry, so I decided to sign up for a class that focuses on making jewelry and small sculptures.

People who know me best probably know that I'm not big on fire. I don't like handling it (and some even joke that I shouldn't) because I worry I'm going to become the next "don't do this" example. So the thought of working with soddering irons, kilns, molten metal and open flames in general sort of concerned me. But I'm also so glad I've taken this class; I even wish that I had explored this sooner in my school career.

I've been planning on posting pictures of my finished work, but today I've decided to post the pictures of the process. It's not exactly a demo, but it's cool to show the process. The photos are a combination of the last two projects I've done.

First, I made a plaster model that I'll build the wax mold on top of:

Next, I'll either dip it in wax (sort of like candlemaking) or I'll build wax on top of it.

After the wax hardens, I carved and sculpted (pictures of that coming in a future post). After I finished, I mixed up investment and poured it over the wax model to be baked in the kiln.

Once that's done, it comes out of the kiln, and if nothing seems wrong, I can start getting the meta ready. I've been working in bronze (mostly because it's cheap, but I also like the color of bronze).

Metal goes into a cruicbe to be metlted, then it's centrifugally casted (basically, put in a washing machine for a couple of minutes)

Once it's done, it's time to quench and cool off the metal.

This is usually one of my favorite parts, but yesterday, a combination of steam and scorching hot water left me wishing I didn't have to do it.

After the casting's done, I spend the rest of the project cleaning it up. The piece I'm currently working on is only in the beginning stages of clean up, so it only looks like this:
But I'm looking forward to cleaning and assembling this piece. Keep watch for a post in the next couple of weeks where I show off my finished projects!


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