Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Back on the blog

I have indeed been remiss with my blogging (see Toby's comment below).  having said that, I haven't actually done much of late - the allure of being side tracked into various Robson family projects often proving too strong to resist :-)

I have however, made some progress with "project cage" (see the photo of the pinkish carved core in Toby's blog entry below).  For now, all I want to say is that it will consist of a cast aluminium "cage" (the carved core) and that there will be a central "item" (for want of a less ambiguous description) trapped within said cage.  It'll sit on some kind of lead-wrapped base.  Or maybe oiled wood.  Or possibly a carved potato.  Who knows.


Monday, 28 June 2010

Another week, no dollars!

Yesterday worked out.... 'okay' (let damn it with feint praise). The day kicked off with Bryn's white van arriving over at the shack just after us, so John and I helped him out raising up some steel steps up for mein landlords, Ma and Pa. Bryn's cunning use of tie-straps and the van had the thing hoisted into position in double quick time - though not without my mind quietly playing the Casualty theme and musing over the correct first aid treatment for crush injuries. Anyway, its up in place now -giving Mum and Dad access once again to the top of the barn (which also contains some of my junk - BUT in contradiction to my Pa's goadings, its MOSTLY my sister's!)

Then we adjourned to the house for the dreaded ball-of-the-foot. I won't dwell on the unedifying spectacle of our national team playing like a bunch of strangers - or Capello's frankly bizarre selection. I'll simply let the following photo express everything John and I felt about it ;-)

Anyway, after that I busied myself grinding off some flashing from the three plates I cast over at The Bullpen - though apart from loading the car with the brazier, thats about as far as my efforts to tick things off the to-do list got, I'm afraid. Doh. Well, in addition to the things already listed, lets actually add a few more:

1. Making up polystyrene bases for the 'sea shell' castings.
2. Start making up pattern for fish casting for Cotswold Water Park (potential commission...?)
3. Sending a link for the site over to Garden Art in Hungerford to see if they might be interested in any of our work.

John cracked on with his carved core - a very strong form - picture below. He's been remiss with his blogging of late, so I'll let him tell you about it!

Oh, John's been working on some mighty fine looking cards to help promote The Shack. More on these soon!


Saturday, 26 June 2010

A to-do list for tomorrow...

Back to the Shack tomorrow (with a compulsory break to go inside the house to watch the dreaded ball-of-the-foot. As it's against Germany, subsequent posts tomorrow MAY be alcohol influenced)

Anyway, here's what I've got to remember:

1. Take unused Alpha-set mold from last week's iron casting to use as possible carved core
2. Take 'sea shell' pieces to develop new mounts (these featured as part of the Belgravia exhibition - I was never happy with mounting all three together on a carved cell-block plinth. I had a moment of inspiration yesterday looking at some barnacles... More on this to follow!
3. Cut top off old beer barrel to make mini-brazier for home garden & fill punchbag with vermiculite as supplied by Bryn (its not all art here you know!)

More soon ;-)

Monday, 14 June 2010

Here's a nice thing...

Was browsing around for sites related to casting when I stumbled across this picture of a piece by Jim Wade which is sat in my front room as I type (http://www.internationalfe10.com/gallery.php). Toby

Sunday, 13 June 2010

A Long week of fun and friendship

 I've just come back from a week's frolics up at the excellent Bullpen Arts Center, working on a series of pieces which have been cast in iron. As I type, three of them are sat alongside me awaiting wire brushing, fettling, chasing and tidying up. Another piece, weighing a good 100lbs, is sat outside as I'll trash the floorboards if I try and bring it in on my own!

Although I didn't really try much new in the way of technique, I learned quite a lot this week. The first conclusion to draw is about the limitations of sodium silicate as a mold binder: large mold elements which get handled regularly are extremely soft by comparison with the equivalent made up from Alpha Set. In fact, some of the mold elements which people were working on would have been simply impossible using sodium silicate. All of the other artists on the course said that they'd had bad experiences using sodium silicate at one time or another, so I'm wondering about investing in a tub or two of Alpha Set. Another clincher for me was the way in which Wez and co. mix theirs up: Unlike the laborious and drill-knackering technique used up at Coalbrookdale of running a drill/plasterer's paddle in the mouth of a bladeless cement mixer, The Bullpen crew simply add a few irregular lumps of iron to the sand and chemicals - these bits flopping around seem to mix everything in wonderfully well. The other top-top picked up from a chap called Casey was to add the catalyst BEFORE the resin. This (despite the John Winters instructions) seemed to result in a much stronger and more even mix which set fantastically solid.

I'd really recommend the Bullpen to any potentially interested parties, be you an artist or a backyard caster - Wez and Helen are lovely people with a fantastic set-up.

More thoughts and tales of what went on - but in the meantime, here are some pictures, expertly snapped by the hand of Mr John Hardy:

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

and finally...

... before bed - a new and as yet un-named casting in aluminium and copper set on Bath stone poured this weekend and mounted/polished in very short order. This was the wax piece I melted out last session before I went off to Belgium. Despite my concerns that our wood and charcoal melt-out oven wouldn't have got hot enough (maximum temperature I measured was a mere 180oC), it seems to have cast very cleanly. Toby

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Next steps...

A very busy week coming up: Its nearly time to go off to The Bullpen to cast up some new work - though lots of other things seem to be getting in the way at the moment (but, it has to be said, in a good way). First off - my mate 'Grinny' Bryn has told me that one of his building clients may well be interested in a bespoke cast iron fire back based on my piece 'Forever Auntumnal'. If I can seal this deal, I should be able to fund the rest of the course. All this depends upon now is Bryn being able to make me up a suitably large flask to cast a HUGE -scratchblock into... This was one of the calls I meant to make today before being side-tracked by other things. (Doh) ... Then I've got to get over to Ma and Pa's to cast up some large lumps of sand suitable as the cores for some carved core work - and I ought really as well to pen out some more detail for what is as yet, very 'back of a fag packet' plans for what I'm actually going to do! I've bought some interesting polystyrene shapes which I'm a mind to work on with the hot-wire as some burn-out pieces and I've also been collecting pictures of organic shapes where trees have grown through iron railings. This is something I'd like to try and replicate - so I have some cage like forms in mind which I'd like to create using a carved core which I'll then plant saplings within so that they grow through the iron and start to conjoin and choke when they become restricted. OK - I'm not being very erudite or clear here - bear with me as its late - maybe the following pictures will start to make what I've got in mind a little clearer...