Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Future Fossils

When I was preparing for the Daniel Clayman casting workshop at the Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass earlier this month, I needed to show up to the workshop with a relief ready to cast. I was struggling to come up with an idea.  I think of reliefs as being two dimensional even though they are technically a three dimensional thing.  

For some strange reason, I started daydreaming about fossils.  I really like fossils of animals, fish, reptiles, and vegetation found in rocks.  I can't imagine the joy of someone breaking open a rock and finding a trilobite in perfect form, preserved for millions of years.  My mind wandered and had a very strange thought.  The fact of mind wandering isn't so strange for me.  The strange part is where it wandered to.  I was thinking of the types of fossils people of the far future would find from our civilization.  I thought that all the hardware - nuts, bolts, screws, wires, and other metal found in our houses, cars, toys, and other elements of our daily lives - would be the fossils of the future.  Thus, "Future Fossils" were born.  

Above is a picture of the first "Future Fossil", which was created during the workshop.  It is shown standing up and embedded in a chunk of clay.  That made the most sense as a quick solution to the photography problem and seemed more fitting than a plastic display stand.

Here are some photos taken on my mobile phone showing some of the steps along the way.  First up is the original clay model.  Here I took a bunch of parts from my workshop, rolled out about a half-inch thick slab of plasticine (non-hardening) clay, and then pressed the hardware into the clay. 

This is sitting on a piece of melamine board that has been waxed to prevent it from sticking completely and can get it off once the mold is created.

Next up is the preparation of the mold.  Here I'm doing a hand-built mold rather than a poured mold.  In this picture, I'm using compressed air at a very low pressure (about 3-5 PSI), to gently move the plaster/silica mix around the surface of the clay.  

The purpose of doing this is to eliminate the tiny air bubbles that get trapped on the surface and cause issues in the mold.

 I didn't take a picture of the final mold before removing from the supporting board, nor one of the mold with the clay still in it.  One trick we learned is how to use compressed air at much higher pressure (40-50 PSI) to help remove the clay original.  Note that the clay came out perfectly.  However if you look close, you'll see I still didn't do a great job of eliminating the air bubbles as there are many little pock marks on the surface of the mold. 

 The next picture shows the mold sitting in the kiln and filled with a turquoise blue colored glass frit.  Even though I've mounded it up, you can see that the final fossil isn't as thick as I'd have liked it.

I leveled the mold in the kiln and took great care to make sure it was level before I filled the mold.  I think it must have been moved or adjusted based on the final result, where it is slightly thicker on one edge than the other. 

All in all, I'm quite happy with my "Future Fossil #1".

1 comment:

  1. Jeff , thank you for showing the process of your work. It taught me a lot! Thank you!