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04.07.11 Just Chillin’

You just never know what you’ll find in my frig these days!
Nope, not a chocolate mule! That’s a wax version of Tuesday which I’m working on to adapt for bronze. It hasn’t always been the case, but microcrystalline wax is now one of my favorite media to work in. As you’d imagine, wax is heat sensitive, so after I’ve warmed up an area to manipulate it (with another fancy tool — a hair dryer!) the piece gets to chill out in the frig for a bit.  Such a silly image, I had to share it with you 😉

3.30.11 Stories that unfold over time

They all have stories, these sculptures.  Stories they are born with, stories that are given to them by others.

The thing about narratives is that they can expand, shift and become richer as we ripple through time.  That’s what’s nice about working with different versions of a sculpture over time.

Particularly with Tuesday. The 2002 resin edition encapsulated an initial denial of devastating reality.  “Noooooooo, it can’t be…” But it was.  It is.

Why is Tuesday a mule?

Even in our most uncertain hour, hope must be as “stubborn as a mule”.

What began as a cathartic expression of shock at the events of a Tuesday morning in September, 2001, has become, for me, an ongoing meditation about loss and changes so sudden that the very ground beneath our feet sinks away.

Now here we are, ten years out. Each circle ’round the sun has brought us more loss, yet also more love and just plain living.

Since her introduction in ceramic in 2007, each casting of Tuesday has had the key elements of her face resculpted, especially the mouth because it is cast solid and must be carved out.  The many hours working on each casting are an opportunity for me to reconnect with the original inspiration and to ponder subsequent events, global and personal.

I believe that Tuesday has stood up well to the test of time; she expresses deep universal emotion, yet is a screen upon which your personal experience can be projected. A visceral alchemy of intent and interpretation.

Sitting in my studio is a wax copy of the original that I’m finally ready to refine for casting in bronze later this summer.  It will be interesting to see how she changes in this latest iteration.

Would you like a piece of that original gut reaction? 

One of the last of the original resins that I will offer for sale is now at auction.  It ends Friday.

01.20.11 Lights – Camera – Book!

The instruction book that is.  Yup, I’ve been in a camera rut, shooting with the same settings all the time, and not always getting the results you’d hope for.  So on the advice of my friend Sarah Minkiewicz I dusted off the camera’s instructions.  Wow, I’d forgotten quite a bit about the features of the cute little peashooter (a four-year-old Pentax Optio A30).  A couple of obliging mules were rounded up for a much needed practice session.
In a studio lighting workshop last year I learned that studio photographers often do not point a light directly at their subject.  Yes, that’s counter-intuitive, but you get a softer lighting effect using the edge lighting from a parabolic reflector.  Two separate lights give you a tremendous range of lighting effects and control.
The beauty of a digital camera is that you can watch the way the light changes in real time on your camera’s screen.  Often I’ll hold a light in my left hand, move it around the set area while watching the camera screen to find those lighting sweet spots.  The tricky bit is focusing and shooting one-handed — do you remember the childhood party game, Twister?  Yes, it feels just like that.
Here’s a series of light experiments:
Single source of light from left; ambient light from the right.

Same single source of light from left; second source from right directly behind Iko, but pointed about a 90º angle away from him.
Same single source of light from left; second source from right and brought to the front a bit and pointed at a greater angle away from Iko
Same single source of light from left; second source from front left, elevated.
It’s interesting to see how positioning the lights differently can make such a big change in how you perceive the piece.  Now to be bolder in experimenting with camera settings (and more diligent in taking notes about those settings!)


01.18.2011 Cryptonite for Super Hero Peanuts

Those pesky packing peanuts.  This time of year, charged with static electricity, they’re like little super heroes defying gravity, climbing up the sides of boxes, leaping from bag to hand, then clinging there there — floating in mid-air when you try to shake them off, only to have them target the cat as their next victim.
It’s annoying.  And it slows down the packing and shipping process. 
Zap the little dudes with a spritz of Static Guard.  Puts ’em in their place quick.
By the way there are still a few of the resin mules, Iko and Tee-Nah, in inventory, ready for immediate shipment.  Just don’t be surprised if you catch a whiff of the “fresh scent” of static guard when you open your box! 
P.S.  Blogspot is not cooperating in letting me link text this morning, so here’s the addy for more information about the mules: 

10.28.10 Monday will be Mule-day!

A cavalcade of spunky mules is filling up our shelves!

The mules are hollow cast on a rotational casting machine (above). When each frame is spinning simultaneously around its individual axis, it always puts me in mind of an MC Escher print.  You know the one, with staircases going in all directions at once.

The mules sales debut is coming soon 
~ Monday, November 1 ~

Witching you a spooky fun Halloween in the meantime — boo!

10.21.10 When Less is More

 — more efficient, more aesthetically pleasing, more economical. But, less can take more time.

Originally the bases for the mules, Iko and Tee-Nah, were designed to simply be cast solid, with flat bottoms.  Barry made a simple one piece mold for them and cast a few.  

They were heavy.  It was hard to control the level on, and if you have a pair of mules, you’d really like to have the bases be the same thickness.

So, Barry asked a local woodworker to rout out two hollows on the back side of each base, leaving a solid support bar across the middle.  The weight of the base was reduced by about 25%, yet the bases remain heavy enough to solidly support and anchor the sculptures.

Tomorrow the two revamped bases will be remolded, each will have a new two-part mold to control the thickness very accurately.  Then… Iko and Tee-Nah will be back on track for their November 1 debut.

Stay tuned.


08.23.10 Behold the Mold, part 2

Molding tip — placing a sheet of foil under the mass of clay allows you to reposition the in-process mold on the work surface as needed to build walls.

In our first Behold the Mold segment Barry worked on the all-important first section of the production mold for Iko.  
Legos are used to form the container walls of the mold. Additional non-hardening clay fills the corners to form a contoured wall, this saves on the amount of silicone that will be needed for this pour.  The silicone mold material is mixed then degassed in a vacuum chamber.  Pouring it in a thin stream also helps to break any remaining bubbles.

After the first piece of silicone cured, it was covered in plaster — the white “rim” seen around the pink silicone in the photo below.  The plaster is the rigid mother mold, or supporting shell, which prevents the flexible silicone mold material from deforming.

Next, Barry flipped the mold over and removed the purple and blue clay that the model had been resting on.  Above, you can see the smear of purply blue color that remains on the creamier clay that is the “place holder” for third piece of the mold.
After the mold lines on this side are refined, Barry builds another set of “container” walls and pours the second side of the mold.

As with the first side, the second side of silicone is also covered with plaster to make the second half of the mother mold or shell. Then the final bit of clay is cleaned out from the inner section and silicone is poured in to form the final piece of this mold.

Silicone is a bit temperature sensitive, so on cooler evenings Barry sets the mold under a lamp (or in the hot box if it’s really cool) and covers the curing mold with plastic wrap to help keep heat in.
Now, as Iko’s mold cures, Barry begins to pencil in the mold lines for Tee-Nah!


08.13.10 Behold the Mold, part 1

Barry begins creating a production mold for Lynn’s new mule sculpture, “Iko” by building a mass of non-hardening clay up to the level of the mold lines.
Barry designs his production molds piece by piece.  The base piece is the most critical for it influences the design of all the remaining pieces.  The first step is to draw mold lines on the pieces with a pencil.
Then the master model of Iko is placed on a mass of non-hardening clay.  The purply gray clay is an odd color — the result of different colors of clay blending together over time and re-use.  It makes a good filler for the bulk of this layer, then it’s topped by fresh clay.
Here you see that the under layer of recycled clay has been covered with blue clay — that’s the base piece of the mold.  The creamy colored clay represents the middle piece of the three-part mold, the section the captures the underbelly and inside of the legs of the sculpture.
Now you have to think backwards, or maybe upside down and inside out — the first piece of the mold to be poured in silicon is actually the third piece, the upper most section.
So to review: in order to create the top-most layer of a mold Barry designs the middle and bottom layers first.  Clear as mud?  I hope not, but you’ll see what I mean next week when I post more pictures.

07.28.10 New Mule Sculptures Ready for Molding!

Here they are, Tee-Nah and Iko the mules.  You’ll be reading more about them soon, but for now here are just a few of the hundreds of pix I took of them this afternoon and evening.  

You know how you can get a little snap-happy with a digital camera — it’s even worse when you have such fun characters to work with.  The photo session took far longer than I anticipated, hence a much later post than was planned.

The mules’ bases are designed to be able to slide smoothly past one another so that you may position Iko and Tee-Nah in many different ways.

The mules themselves are designed to be enjoyed individually, or interacting together.  So many stories start to suggest themselves to the viewer… what comes to your mind?