Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pig's Head Trophy - or "Cappuccino"

This little piggy's called "Cappuccino". My first night attending a Sculptors Queensland forum there was a lot of talk about making moulds, using silicone and repetitive casting. One of the attendees, Graham Marshall asked, almost in passing, what about the tried and tested method of making a plaster mould that you smash off after the casting? So off course I decided I should give it a go. Despite the apparent waste and "one-off" nature of the process, it's really quite an economical way of manufacturing something. The clay and plaster are cheap and the fibreglass is rigid and durable. And since you're only making one, you don't have to worry too much about getting the process right or not breaking anything.

I've used the filtered terracotta for a couple of jobs now and I'm happy with it's smoothness and the absence of granular particles. The initial modeling was quick too, done over a couple of short sessions on consecutive days. And knowing I would sacrifice the mould, I made no real effort to smooth the clay. In fact I was deliberately rough, leaving the surface textured with broad trowel marks. 

When applying the plaster mould I was aiming for a thickness I could rely on for stripping out the clay but not so thick as to prevent me breaking it off the finished fibreglass without too much trouble. I sealed the mould with PVA glue, just cause, which proved fortuitous. After stripping the mould, a few pieces of plaster resisted removal, but I found soaking it in water dissolved the PVA which was enough to dislodge most of the stubborn remainders.

At this point I got stuck. I couldn't decide how to make the base. I had lots of ideas, large and elaborate, none of which came to fruition. So the whole thing stalled of several weeks. In the end I figured simplicity was best so I made a backboard from MDF cut with a jigsaw and routed with bullnosed edges. Now that I've got it down, I hope to make more of these "one-off's", except I've already started other different stuff and I have a few ideas for more "Un-tried" pieces. So for now I'm filing this one away.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Public Speaking

PechaKucha Night Brisbane Vol 36. 19.03.2014

Social Media Presentation, Sculptors Queensland Forum, 4.03.2014

It's been another couple of weeks with loads going on but very little art. Earlier in the year I suggested to the members of Sculptors Queensland they might consider setting up a facebook page. The response was enthusiastic but it came with the caveat that I make a presentation to the members, many of whom having little or no experience with social media. Bizarrely, within a week of giving that talk at the SQ Shed, I was invited to take part in a PechaKucha Night at the Brisbane Powerhouse. So two talks in as many weeks when I think the last time I'd made a speech in public was at my wedding reception nearly ten years ago.

The social media presentation went quite well. I'd had a couple of months to prepare and over the weeks I'd been steadily pulling together images and data off the net and organinsing my ideas of what I thought would be worth talking about. I tried to merge my own experience with examples of how other artists use social media along with some pretty infographics related to internet and social media usage world wide. I didn't do a head count but there were maybe 25 members present for the talk which lasted around 30 minutes with plenty of questions and discussion going on throughout.

Conversely, I only recieved the invitation to speak at PechaKucha one week before the scheduled event, and since I was required to submit my slides the Sunday before, I only had four days to sort it all out. PechaKucha, held every three months in cities around the world, has a unique and strict format. Each presenter has twenty slides and each slide automatically changes every twenty seconds, giving the speaker a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds to speak. It's near impossible to describe each slide before it disappears and those that tried didn't make very good presentations. I decided to give a brief history of my working life for the last twenty years and describe how I came to start making art in a serious way, alternating between images of my artwork and images of highlights from my construction projects. Ambitious for 6:40 but I actually got through that bit by about slide 14. The last 1:20 I used to describe the positive effect making art has had on my life. Thankfully it went off quite well, the organisers commenting that I "Spoke with fantastic clarity and insight." Can't really ask for more than that.

The following day I worked quietly at my desk and the lack of pressing deadlines or the anxiety of a looming public address had me feeling a little like I was on holiday. Perhaps now I can devote some time to making something.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Moulding for Concrete Tentalces

I was so impressed by how last weeks Hebel Lamp turned out, I've decided I should have a go at making one out of concrete. I bought a block of clay some weeks ago and I've been determined to do something with it but I've vacillated over what purpose to put it to. The pigs head that forms the banner of this blog is one piece I've yet to post about since I've struggled to complete it. But it's done now and I plan to make another just like it which is why I bought the clay in the first place. The newer plan is to make papier mache pig masks, and lots of them, which needs a mould, and the clay could have been used for that. There's still some fresh clay left so maybe that next.
In the meantime, while this plaster dries thoroughly, maybe I'll start a painting.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Tentacle Lamps

This week, in my world of ever changing goals, directions and priorities, I've decided that functionality is vastly more important than aesthetics. But don't quote me on that, I know I'll feel differently about it some other time. Ambivalence is my curse and I variously lament and rejoice in it.
Wandering around the hardware store, I came across fittings for making plugs and lamps and instantly realised how easy it would be for me to convert these sculptures into functional home decor. Fast forward to me at the cashier with an arm full of electrical fixtures.
Back home I cut an old piece of concrete reinforcing bar into a point and used it to bore a hole through the hebel, epoxied in the lamp fitting and, viola, table lamp completed. There's only two wires and no right or wrong way to connect them so it's virtually impossible to f#@k this job up. Still, probably worth having it signed off by a sparky before I offer them up for sale.