The "pod bugs" cast in bronze that I discussed in my September 1st blog entry have now been completed. I created a blue-green surface patina by fuming the pieces with a combination of ammonia, vinegar, and salt.
I began by drilling holes in the tops of 8 small blocks of wood. I would use these to keep the pieces above the level of the fuming liquid by inserting the small bronze extension that I left under the foot of each bug leg into the hole of each of the wooden blocks. After setting the elevated bugs in the bottom of a tall plastic lidded container, I then poured equal portions of ammonia and vinegar, and a tablespoon of salt into the bottom of the container to a level of about 1/2 inch. The lid was then snapped on tightly and the pieces were fumed for 10 days. (I did add additional ammonia and vinegar after 5 days to "perk up" the fuming process.)
When the desired color was achieved, I removed the pieces from the container. After allowing them to dry thoroughly, I coated them with a coat of clear satin polyurethane to seal the patina. The final step was to attach the pieces to the wooden base that I had prepared. I put 5 minute epoxy into each of the 4 holes that I had drilled into the wood for the smaller bug, inserted the extension under each foot into the appropriate hole, and held it in place until the epoxy set. Then I repeated the process for the larger bug. The piece is now complete and headed to The Maine Art Gallery in Wiscassett.
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.