Last week I participated in a 4 day moldmaking workshop at Maine College of Art. It was one of a selection of seven intensives being offered as a part of MECA's "Feed Your Soul" week. The program was open to secondary school art teachers as a way for them to get refreshed and inspired at the end of the school year. Luckily for me, they also opened up the moldmaking class to Continuing Studies students. The class was taught by MECA instructor and sculptor Ben Asselin...another reason to take the class! (See my blog posts from 2015... 10/30, 11/20, 12/10 & 12/31).
On the first day, after Ben gave us a thorough overview of molding materials and techniques that we would be exploring
he had each of us made an alginate waste mold of our hand. Our homework assignment for the second day was to create a relief sculpture out of plasticine clay that we would be casting in a one piece block mold the next day. As I sat at my work table at home trying to decide what I would do with the slab of clay that I had rolled out, my eyes settled on a small plastic container of nuts and bolts that were waiting to be sorted and put away - and voila! I had my idea. At first I was just going to press the various nuts, bolts, and washers into the clay, and then I decided that I would also actually embed them in the clay so that I would have both impressed and relief elements in the design.
The next day in class we hot glued together a cardboard framework to contain the silicone mold material that would be poured over the relief. We determined the volume of silicone that would be needed by filling the cardboard frame with rice and then pouring the rice into a measuring container. We used a 2-part silicone from the Smooth-On Company called Mold Star Silicone Mold Rubber (16 Fast). Equal parts were mixed and poured into the mold frame on top of the relief (6 minutes work time). After 30 minutes, the cardboard frame was removed and the original relief was extracted from the cured silicone mold. The final step was to make castings from the completed mold using Smooth-Cast 305 Resin. This is also a 2-part material that is mixed in a 1:1 ratio and has a work time of 6 minutes. I made several castings and they all had consistently great detail, including the areas that had undercuts. I chose to use white for these castings to emphasize texture, light, and shadow, but I may experiment with different colors of resin or model paint on future castings. The design is effective from all angles, so I may also experiment with some groupings - a diptych, a triptych... maybe even a quadtych!
I spent the last two days of the class working on a couple of 2-part brush-on molds that I brought home to finish...stay tuned!
So - as you head to Maine for your summer vacation to explore the rocky coast, dine on lobster, go on a whale watch or a puffin cruise, check out the Saltwater Artists Gallery - we're just a quarter of a mile from Pemaquid Lighthouse.
wide Padauk boards that I had chosen to use for the base of the sculpture. I thought the deep red-orange color of the wood would contrast well with the blue-green patina that I was going to be using. While the glue hardened, I applied the cold "Tiffany" patina to the castings. I decided to leave the egg in the nest a natural bronze color to make it a focal point in the sculptural composition. I also removed some of the patina color on the nest to enhance the surface textures. I finished the castings by sealing them with satin polyurethane.
The next step was to prepare the wooden base. I sanded it, and then rounded the corners and drilled the holes where the various castings would be inserted and attached. I also added a smaller 1/2" thick walnut board to the bottom side of the base to add a little elevation to the piece. The base was then sealed with satin poly. The final step, after the base dried, was to attach the castings. I glued each casting into its designated pre-drilled hole using 5 minute epoxy. And - lo and behold ....Spring had sprung! The piece was ready to deliver to the Spring Greens show at River Arts Gallery in Damariscotta.
3 views of "Spring Arrival"
The quick back story on the construction of the pod birds is that I made their bodies from Mahogany seed pods, added sticks clipped from my old lilac bush for legs, and then attached lotus seeds for their eyes. The birds required the addition of wax wings, tail feathers, and feet, and I carved their beaks out of the small ends of the pods. As I transitioned from bugs to birds, I also decided to cast a couple of small birds nests that I had squirreled away for some future project. I coated them in wax and added a wax eggs. In the interest of artistic experimentation, not to mention being a "waste-not, want-not" frugal ol' Yankee, I also decided to cast some dried poppies from my garden. ( I like to have a full mold when I cast!) So fast forward to 2018, and my plan now is to clean up my leftover birds, nest and poppies, patina them in green, arrange them in a composition, and attach them to a base... Spring Greens!
on the underside of the lid to stabilize the lid in the opening of the box. I used a fine sanding sponge on the exterior of the box to even out the surface imperfections, and then coated the box and the lid with satin polyurethane.
The next step was to attach the baggage pieces to the lid. I arranged the baggage on a piece of styrofoam to finalize spacing and determine where holes would need to be drilled in the lid to accommodate the attachment posts on the underside of each piece of baggage. I used tracing paper to transfer the hole placement locations to the new lid, and then drilled the the marked holes to a depth of about 1/2". The final step was to attach each piece in the appropriate hole with 5-minute epoxy. I was very happy with the completed piece. The patina on the baggage gives it an aged look that goes well with the look of the box base, and I feel that the box serves as the last "case" in this composition of carrying cases. I won't go into all my thoughts about all of the "baggage" most of us carry around with us - the box will simply provide a new place to put it!
'Unintended Baggage' ..... complete
Gearing Up For Maine's Art Show Season at Saltwater Artists
Preparations are underway for the beginning of the upcoming art show season at Saltwater Artists Gallery in New Harbor. We will soon be setting up for our Memorial Day opening, and look forward to seeing our work displayed under the new track lighting that we had installed throughout the gallery over the winter. If you are headed to Maine this summer, stop by!
a length of threaded rod that could be screwed into the hole in the bottom of the figure and reach through both disks to the back of the piece of marble. I put epoxy in the hole in the bottom of the figure before I screwed the rod into it. (I did this to keep the rod from "backing out" when I tightened the nut at the other end.) The final step was to thread the other base pieces onto the rod and then tighten the nut onto the end of the rod.
First "cold case" of 2018 solved! On to the next!
"Moonrunner" ... sealed & assembled
Mother Nature has graciously provided me with a bit of unencumbered time (courtesy of her latest Nor'easter blizzard) to get together a new posting. Of course, my time will only be unencumbered until the depth of snow necessitates my braving the elements to clear a pathway to the woodpile. Fingers crossed that the power stays on!
After making 2 each of the four different molds, I dried the castings and then trimmed any irregularities on their edges. I also filled and sanded any surface imperfections. I then experimented with various arrangements of the 3"x3" castings, trying to get a composition that had an interesting distribution of circles, squares and the varying elevations. The next step was to paint each casting with the graphite acrylic, and then prepare the matting materials.
I cut 3 different pieces of matboard (2 white and 1 red) and a piece of foamcore board to fit into a 14" x 14" black Nielsen metal frame. I cut an opening in the foamcore board that corresponded to the outside measurements of the casting arrangement, and an identical opening in the piece of red matboard. I used an angled mat cutter to cut a slightly larger beveled opening in a piece of the white matboard. Before I attempted to assemble the mats, I made one final change in the arrangement of the castings. I decided to reverse the order of the 2 bottom right castings, so that there wouldn't be a circular element in both of the righthand corners of the design.
I became a member of the gallery in 2016. As a co-operative gallery, all of our 25 members take turns "sitting the gallery" during the season - answering questions from our visitors, processing sales, answering the phone, and so on. This was a new experience for me, and I found that it not only gave me the opportunity to get more familiar with the work of my fellow artists, but it was also a great way to get to know our customers. Some of the most consistent feedback from our customers had to do with the quality and variety of the work we were showing. Our members artists work in a wide range of media... photography, jewelry, painting (watercolor, acrylic,and oil), pastels, wood turning, fabrics, glass, printmaking, and sculpture. Have included a few representative pix below -
So as you head up the coast of Maine next summer, be sure to head out to New Harbor and stop to se us at Saltwater Artists Gallery. It will be on your left, just before you get to the lighthouse at Pemaquid Point .
* You can catch up with what's happening at Saltwater Artists Gallery on Facebook.
Read more about the Gallery's history in my blog posting for 6-3-16.
A couple of weeks ago I was running a bit ahead of schedule as I headed to a gallery on the coast to drop off some artwork, so I decided to make an unscheduled stop at an antique / collectible / junk shop shop just over the bridge in Bath. I had gone past this shop for years and had always been intrigued by the piles (and I mean piles!) of "stuff" that surrounded its entranceway. Usually either it wasn't open when I went by, or I was in a hurry and couldn't stop, but evidently the stars were aligned just right on this particular day. As I prowled through
The next step was to cut, sand, and glue two pieces of yellowheart wood together to serve as a baseboard (9" x 9 1/2") for the sculpture. While waiting for the glue to set, I added feet to the seagulls using the same process that I used in the Coastal Trio sculpture (blog entry 7/19/17). I then sanded and sealed the yellowheart with satin polyurethane and painted the seagulls with acrylic. After cutting 3 short pieces of thin doweling to use as attachment pegs, I drilled holes in 3 small flat areas on the bottom of the piece of driftwood. After inserting the pegs in the holes I determined where the piece would sit on the baseboard, and drilled the holes that would receive the other end of the pegs. The last step before before assembling the the sculpture was to accumulate a few possible pieces of "coastal miscellany"... things that might be found on a shoreline beach. First I made a pot buoy out of wood, then I used wood stain to darken a length of string to simulate old fashioned pot warp. I picked out a few small shells from my "maybe I'll use this someday" stash, packing the inside of each shell with Apoxie Clay so that I would have a solid flat surface to use for attaching them to the baseboard. I was finally ready to put all of the pieces of the sculpture together.
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.