This is a progress report on the continuing tale of the sphere of ascending and descending stairs made of the wax casts described in my blog entry of 9/11. The sphere itself has been completed. The next step in the plan is to proceed with gating the piece using a large main gate which will go through the center of the ball and feed up from the bottom through several sprues. I have made openings at opposite sides of the ball, taking out small sections which will be cast with the piece and reattached after the piece is chased. The large central main gate will allow me to make the mold smaller and the heat it will hold will also help minimize warping in the piece by evening out temperature in the center of the mold as the hot metal cools. The tricky part will be to devise a gating system that will force the bronze to flow completely through all of the angles and planes and exit the vents...a bit of an engineering challenge, but, as I have said before - I enjoy a challenge.
I participated in a bronze pour last Friday with an alumni group led by Professor John Ventimiglia and sculptor Sandy MacLeod at Maine College of Art in Portland. We had spent the week getting ready...gating our wax pieces (see blog entry for 11/5), putting them in investment molds, and burning out the wax from the molds in the kiln. On Friday we placed the hot molds in wooden flask frames and packed damp sand around the molds to keep them warm and to keep them from splitting open when the bronze was poured into them. We had a 'slight' delay when a sprinkler head let go and showered everything with water. After getting the water shut off, mopping up the floor, drying off the molds and the furnace controls, we finally proceeded with the pour. The following day we broke the pieces out of their molds, cleaned off the investment residue and cut off the gating. All of the pieces I cast came out successfully... the figure and base, the pod birds and nests, and the poppy pods with stems. The next step will be to chase and clean up the gating attachment points and any surface imperfections or flashing. One bird done... and a flock to go!
Cynthia Smith, Maine artist, originally from Connecticut. Taught art at secondary level for 35 years, retired in 2004. Sculpts in bronze, wood, stone, clay & plaster. Her work can be seen at several mid-coast Maine galleries and shows.