Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Full steam ahead with the pinecone!

All work on the Coat of Arms has ground to a halt this past few days as the need to get the pinecone finished for installation at the Chelsea Flower Show has taken precedence. The deadline was so close that I had to down tools and go to the Forge and assist in the lost wax casting

It was great to see the molten lead
poured and then see the cast lead pinecone emerge from the the mould as I chiselled it out from the investment.

The finished result was amazing and
I'm sure that it will be well received at The show. Keep an eye out for it in the t.v coverage of the event, or if you are lucky enough to go to the show personally, see if you can find it. It will be part of a stunning and prize winning (fingers crossed) garden.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Coat of arms -mould making

Sculpting is all finished now and it has been seen and approved by the customer, so the mould making is the next stage now. I have had a last glance over it to check for any details that may need tidying up.
This is very important as once the mould has been started there is no going back, all detail that is there is there for ever!

The first layer of the mould is applied very carefully to make sure every detail is captured perfectly, and subsequent layers will be built up gradually to the right thickness.

Meanwhile on the other bench.....

...this little beauty has been coming along nicely!

This pine cone is the little brother to a 3ft pine cone that I sculpted in Feb '06, it was cast in lead and shown at Chelsea flower Show. This one is also a commission from Brian who will be casting it in lead, using the lost wax method of casting.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Coat of Arms-nearly there!

Work has really progressed on the coat of arms now and I'm really pleased with how it looks.
(Click on the photo for a closer look)

All the details are on the shield and today I put in the lettering.
The lettering is a job best left 'til the end as it could easily be spoiled by dropping a tool on it, especially as it is at the base of the design, where it is also vulnerable to being leaned on accidently.

I feel that it is nearly there, just a bit more smoothing and refining to do and Ill be ready to make the mould. Its time now to get the customer over for a last look and the 'nod' to go ahead if she is happy with it.
Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Continued-Cast iron fireback

Just a picture today to show the cast pieces applied to the shield. The technique worked really well.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Much snow and mould making

I arrived at the workshop this morning after an arduous 2 minute trek through 2 inch deep snow, and this was the scene that greeted me . You can see by the lack of foot prints in the snow that everyone else saw fit to stay in and have a traditional Easter holiday in front of the log fire at home. I hear that the local National Trust property now has a surplus of a 1000 chocolate eggs after the usually well attended 'egg hunt' failed to draw a crowd. I wonder if they will have to wait until the snow melts before they can recover them all?

Anyway, I'd decided todays job would be to make moulds for the details of the coat of arms that were there in multiples. There are 3 crows and 4 wiggly stars. This means that they will each be identical and save me a lot of time sculpting.

Moulds enable indentical casts to be made quickly efficiently. I had already made one star and sculpted the crow the right size for the shield. These were the models from which I made the moulds.

You can see in the picture one of the wiggly stars removed from the mould. This is called a casting and I can make a couple more from it and apply them to the shield. Same with the crows.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Continued-Cast iron fireback

Its been a right couple of long john days in the workshop, but despite the cold, work has progressed on the coat of arms. I like the texture left by the fingers working the surface of the clay as you apply it. I often want to stop at that stage and preserve that quality, it seems to be a bit more lively and you have a sense of the makers involvement. Working it with tools removes all that, but on this occasion that is what is called for. Nice smooth surfaces and crisp edges are the order of the day.
You can see from the photo (click on it to see it bigger) that I have worked the surface and smoothed it off, then started to consider the positioning of detail such as the crows and stars. Nothing is 'carved in stone' at this stage and things can be changed and moved around if needs be. I have to put it away at this stage and have a break from it. Tomorrow I will look at it again with fresh eyes and reassess it.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Continued-Cast iron fireback

The first thing I did when I got in to the workshop today (apart from putting the heater on full blast, for the dogs benefit rather than mine!) was transfer the image of the coat of arms to the board. Then armed with my big bag of clay, started to fill in the drawing very quickly with small pieces of clay that I had tweaked with my fingers to roughly the right shape. I got the whole image filled in and shaped and smoothed the surface a bit before I had to leave it to firm up.

I could see at this stage that I could stretch the design out a bit wider to fill the board up. It was looking very long and narrow, a tad odd, easily remedied!

By the end of the day it was firming up and was a lot less sticky. By tomorrow Ill be able to go to work on it with tools, shaping and refining the form, getting rid of the lumps and bumps.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

COMMISSION-Coat of Arms for cast iron fireback

My most recent sculpting job has come by way of one of my local Blacksmiths-like a great deal of my commissioned work. I am lucky enough to have 2 Smiths working close to my studio who specialise in lead casting. Ian Ridgway and Brain Turner. Ian and Brian cast by pouring molten lead into either sand or chill moulds (a chill mould is made of cast aluminium). So they need moulds and to make a mould you need an original form, or somebody to sculpt one. That's where I come in.

Ian has been asked to create a cast iron fireback, the sort of thing that you would see in a stately home behind the fire grate. It protects the brickwork from damage and holds in the heat, and is often used to display the family coat of arms, as in this case.

So, armed with a copy of the family crest, a whole load of clay and a backing board the size the finished plate is to be. I am going to set about recreating it a bit more 3 dimensional.