Monthly Archives: March 2012

Dipping

The finished waxes with sprues, pour cups, and a few extra vents.

a_splashdipping

Moving to Howard’s studio, I’m beginning the process of dipping the wax in a ceramic slurry mix (colloidial silica) and refractory silica sand. This is ceramic shell moldmaking. The systems in his studio are really well-designed and working there is easy and efficient. See the beautiful chartreus color of the slurry:

c_splashdipping

The first coat is “clear”, without sand. This preserves the surface detail.

b_splashdipping

After drying, the wet second coat is bonded with fine sand.

d_splashdipping

e_splashdipping

The next 8 coats use a coarser sand. The shell for a piece this size should be about 3/8th inch thick. Each coat should dry overnight – it will take some time to finish this mold. Maybe I can get by there on my lunch hour?

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About risk

When I was a mountain climber, I thought I knew about risk; taking risk and weighing reward. Now I realize that I probably never climbed anything that I wasn’t fairly assured that I could get on top of. I planned a strategy, and followed examples of success. A route, a season, equipment, partners. Sculpting isn’t like that. There is no guidebook. When you’re standing before a block of wood, chainsaw in your hand, there is just you, and irreversible consequences. When climbing you may be at risk of your life, but Sculpting makes risk of your intelligence and your ability to control at your will, the material and the idea. If you mess up, it’s not a physical limitation, but the limits of skill, experience, courage, imagination – your artistic identity – that you are up against. I have less courage for the destruction of Self than of injury or death.

One beauty of climbing is that when you are standing at the bottom of the mountain, you have in your possession everything required to summit. The outcome is unknowable, you only know that you can make an attempt. And in Sculpting it’s the same. You have everything required to create the work you are imagining. How often in life can you say that? That you are ready to begin, to embark, and strive? This means of course, you must have also accepted the possibility of failure.