Thursday, 27 September 2012

Lathes, Casting, Electroforming and Cemeteries

It has been a very busy September and things are moving right along in the studio.  Precision Fabrication is way more exciting than I could have imagined.  I finished my lathe samples last week and I am going to do my milling sample tomorrow (it's has fluorescent orange in it, it's very exciting).  The lathe definitely is not as scary as I originally thought, I even figured out some of the really precise calculations, with plenty of help from the instructor of course. 

Here are my samples! The Delrin (the type of plastic) was really nice to work with too.  We also got some wax that we can turn on the lathe and then we can cast that! 

We cast our waxes last week and I am really happy with how mine turned out.  There were some little bubbles trapped in the texture because the vacuum machine was out of order when we were investing.  But the bubbles sort of work with the texture that is already there so it's not the end of the world. 

I have been playing around a bit with some finishes/patinas and I think I have finally found one that I like.  This part of the casting project is getting close... but still much more to do before the pieces will actually be finished!

Electroforming worked! Apparently the problem was lack of paint stirring. I am kind of glad it was a simple solution but slightly frustrating nonetheless.  I still have to patina the copper and decide exactly what I want to do with this test, but I think it's a really great starting point. 

Also, even more exciting is electroforming over wax! You just steam the wax out after and you are left with an amazing copper shell!  There are so many possibilities for this! So exciting!

I had to go to Camp Hill Cemetery for an essay for my Art and Death class and there were some really lovely gravestones and monuments. 

This is the back of one that was particularly beautiful.

Aside from all all the studio fun I also took a stroll through the Public Gardens.  I decided it was time to do some Halifaxy things since I really didn't do much of it last year.  I even braved the crowds at the market last weekend and got a delicious basket of peaches!

Oh and also, this is my favourite fountain ever. 

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Back to School!

It has been a crazy few weeks back in Nova Scotia! First, a few friends and I went to Crystal Crescent Beach and we saw a seal!  It was so nice to have a beach day here. 

Back at school, things are fantastic.  The new class Precision Fabrication is going to be amazing.  We are working on a lathe right now and will be doing milling, some photo etching, and some laser cutting!  As of right now the only thing I can picture myself doing with the skills I will be learning in that class is making glass tools and not jewellery, but hopefully the jewellery part of my brain will click into gear soon. 

My lecture classes are pretty good too.  My Art and Death history lecture is going to be really great.  It's not exactly what I thought it would be, but it has been very interesting so far.  I am still not sure how I feel about my Intro to Semiotics class.  The concepts we are learning are going to be really helpful when designing work, but for now I feel like I should be in the remedial class because none of it makes sense to me yet.

In Intermediate Jewellery we are starting out with casting (which I totally love!) We had to play around with wax a little bit and try out some different techniques.  Here are some of the samples I did:

My simple yet effective at home wax setup

My tree of waxes all sprued up and in the rubber base ready to be invested tomorrow and cast in bronze on Thursday!  Side note - casting requires way more math than you might think.  You have to weigh your wax, multiply it by the specific gravity of whatever metal you are casting with, add about 15% for the button of your casting, and that's how much metal you need.  Even more fun is when you need to order your metal and they measure in ounces, but you are not sure which kind of ounces they measure in.  Could be avoirdupois ounces, could be troy ounces... After you have called them to figure out which measure of ounces they use, you have to convert that to grams to figure out how many ounces you will equal the amount of grams you need.  

I won't get too much into this because all it's really managed to do so far is make me cranky but I am doing some tests with electroforming.  I got a bead core liner from Nortel before I left and lined a few beads with copper to use as my tests.  So far I have had almost no luck.  The technician has been very patient with my obsession with getting this to work.

Here is the clear piece which was freshly sandblasted just before test #4. You can see the tubing in the middle has a nice little buildup of copper on it but there is absolutely none on the silver print.  I have ordered a water based copper paint instead and I am hoping that will make a difference.  I am going to try one more test tomorrow to rule out another variable, I will probably be more frustrated if this test does end up working. Either way I am kind of stuck waiting for the other paint to arrive to really resume my rigorous testing!

Something very scary is happening too, I may be turning into a morning person.  Anyone who knows me at all will not believe this for a second.  This new behaviour is a product of necessity though, that's what happens when you have three morning classes.  Even scarier still: I think I could get used to this. 

Some things will never change though. I got a donut pan and made myself some tiny donuts. They were glorious!