Friday, 26 September 2008

A delayed tumble

Silicon bronze chess pieceSterling ringEnamelled trioPewter & Bronze pig

Pictured is a silicon-bronze chess piece cast by Jason Visser on my previous jewellery course, then a cast sterling silver ring. Although both were made in the August course, I only got round to tumble-polishing them when I got back from holiday, just in time for Jason to pick up on the new course where he left off. He then finished the enamelled pendent with the silver flower in the centre; the border of this was fretted from copper sheet then rivetted with fine silver wires. The last picture is another casting of the pig by Alan Reynolds, this time in silicon bronze on the lower parts and pewter on the upper. Not intentional; the initial bronze casting failed, the mould was repaired and the fill completed with pewter, with intriguing results.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Goodbye to Putney

I have now finished a complete year of Fridays at Putney School of Art, teaching sculpture from life. Quite possibly I will be remembered most for three memorable models I managed to find - Helen, Matthew and Omarius. Below from the left is Omarius, then Matthew, by Elizabeth Font; Omarius by Donald Mead; Wendoline by Imogen le Marquand; a sphinx by Caroline Dashwood; a sculpture with gilded necklace by Merkhaba Mukergee; and a horse relief in resin bronze by Sue Kochalski.

Both head studies were completed in a single 3-hour session (with a 20-mins break for coffee). The sculpture of Wendoline was completed over a couple of weeks, whilst the sphinx was done substantially away from the studio with only occasional references to a model. The resin bronze started off as a green clay original. A mould was made in Tiranti paste silicone rubber, then cast (outdoors) in resin bronze with an inner core of resin iron. Subsequently it was patinated using acetic acid and salt (not pictured) to give an aged and corroded effect.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Work from late spring and early summer

A great deal of student work has passed through my hands over the past couple of months; sculpture, pots and other ceramic forms, casts in resin bronze, jewellery in sterling silver, fine silver, silicon bronze and pewter, some with enamel. The works of Barry Denman and Jacqueline Watson are illustrated in the right-hand column.

The pendent (left) is fine silver, sawn from sheet (which incidentally was earlier prepared from sterling scrap by refining, casting and rolling), roller-textured and finished with files, sandpaper and finally a tumbler machine, by Halina Panopoulos. The chain is threaded through a sterling tube on the back of the pendent.

Since I have no better forum for her work, I have also illustrated Mary Winchester's latest horse, here seen (left) as unfired & fired stoneware clay. My involvement was mostly limited to advice over drying and firing. See the paragraph on her work below in older (previous) posts.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

End of Spring term.

Some of the memorable events of this term have included in particular the ingenuity of the ceramics students - it also seems that the course for next term will be fully booked already, and I am wondering if I should run an additional course.

The jewellery workshop classes chose to have some rings and pendents cast in silicon bronze, because I recently took a shipment of some reasonably cheap silicon bronze rod. This is in contrast to the increasing difficulty of getting my usual art bronze (a leaded tin bronze known as LG4). The item shown left is my small gas furnace for melting silver or bronzes; the burner is on the far left, the thin rod in the foreground is a small thermocouple and the woolly hat is a home-made ceramic fibre blanket 'lid'.

Left is a silicon bronze pendant made by Wendy Mitchell; next an etched sterling-silver oval pendant made by Kathryn Crooks; a silicon bronze ring by Anna Stevens; and finally a pewter pig made by Alan Reynolds (still with sprues and crucible attached). All except the etched pendant were made originally in wax and cast with the lost wax process.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Casting day looms!

It is now nearly the end of spring term, and metal casting is scheduled for next week on Monday and Wednesday evening. Silicon bronze, silver and pewter are the three metals chosen.
But before then it is necessary to burn the waxes out from their entombment in ceramic shell, which I hope to do in a couple of days time at our new workshop. This new location was not chosen with the needs of metal casting in mind, so I am somewhat nervous about burning out about twenty wax shells in the open in a new (and predominantly residential!) neighbourhood.
(As it happened, I found the burning-out to be quite straightforward, with the advantage that I was not restricted to week-ends as formerly).

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Patination of silver

Courses start next week, and the ceramics and jewellery ones are full or nearly so already. I am looking forward to having new students and new work to publish. Alan Reynolds, who has more work illustrated below, has recently sent me a picture of the patinated silver necklace he made at the end of the previous term.

The necklace consists of ten domed and patinated silver discs alternating with bought glass beads (some black, some white) and utilising bought sterling chain and findings. The matching earrings use a single disc each. The patination is well sealed, otherwise it could leave unwanted marks on light clothing.

As you can see, Alan understands the importance of presentation! The white satin-lined case makes an excellent contrasting display setting.

The silver was patinated by suspending the discs for about 30 minutes in a sealed container with some ammonium polysulphide solution in the bottom. This liquid emits fumes of hydrogen sulphide, which demands good ventilation to avoid health problems. It is also quite caustic since it contains free alkali, so gloves and goggles are also necessary. The result should be that the silver turns dark and somewhat iridescent (although the rainbow colours are greatly reduced on sealing). It is washed, dried, then sealed with a conservation-grade hard wax.