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.
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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.