Saturday, December 26, 2009

Casting Experiment ~ The Eye's Have It

Will & I are working with clay. 50 pounds of clay that I've been moving around for a couple of years. I've had plans to make my own molds & to experiment with casting glass. So, instead of working on my year end accounting & 2010 catalog we're playing with the clay!

A few years ago I had wanted to do a whole First Friday show at the gallery around the idea of "Eyes." I love eyes. The symbolism of eyes. The mythology of eyes. The power of eyes. The mystery, the color, shape. Need I go on? Another artist I know poo-pooed my idea until she saw another artist's work sort of related about body parts in an article in Smithsonian....ah-ha...then my idea had validity. Don't you love it when you're right? Not that someone's opinion would stop me from doing what I want too anyway! :)

Here's the start of a small casting project. First make a positive model in clay.

Second, cast it with mold mix. I use "Master Mold Mix." The clay model is secured to the bottom of a small container with soft clay. These are 2" x 2" cubes so I'm just casting them in a small, reinforced, box but for larger castings a frame needs to be built around the model. The mix needs to be thick & creamy so it pours out smoothly & fills in all the small nooks & crannies. After the mix is dry (about 45 minutes on a piece this size) flip it over & remove the soft clay. The mold mix is still soft so there's time to so some addition carving & clean-up. Then it gets fired in a slow firing to dry & harden the mold.

Brush with Bullseye kiln wash ~ three coats in opposite directions. Bullseye shelf primer/wash is made specifically for use with glass ~ not ceramics. When the wash is dry start packing with glass.

Fire slowly to about 1450 degrees, anneal, & slow cool. Don't you love my specific kiln schedule here? Sorry, but firing schedules are boring so I program mine into the computers on my kilns & then adjust them depending on the actual piece going into the kiln. The schedule varies a lot depending on the size & depth of the glass. I keep a kiln journal to document my successes &," learning opportunities."

Here's the finished piece which turned out OK. It needed more glass to fill the corners but I purposely didn't overfill the mold as I the edges were slightly undercut & I was worried about breaking the mold ~ I was hoping the glass would pop out & I could use the mold again. Unfortunately, the mold cracked & then broke apart. I've since tried to repair it & may try to use it again with blocks around it to contain the glass during the firing. Typically, castings are done in plaster of paris molds that are used one time. The casting needs some coldworking to clean it up & remove any sharp edges.

I have four more little eyes & spirals so I can experiment with more color. This is fun. Maybe it's the beginning of a series?

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