Week 17 of 48

May 31, 2010

Mold! This week is all about mold making—probably a boring topic for the majority of you, but I was pretty psyched to both start and finish this mold in the last few weeks so I am going to share the whole process whether you like it or not! Now that the mold is complete, several rounds of casts will probably be necessary before a successful cast emerges, but I am ready to work for it. Mold making is such a long process, what’s a few more days to perfect the casting process?

prepping the plaster diamond for round one of polyurethane

I didn't want a pour spout so in order to make the mold in the round without a support, I had to make half at a time...

flipped over and polyurethane on the top half

back to the bottom half, prepping for part one of the plaster mother mold

the hydrocal sets so quickly I could only do small sections at a time... this is only 2 sections out of 5 needed to complete each half of the mother mold

first half of mother mold done but look at the mess! fiberglass, hydrocal, plasticine, polyurethane, etc.

prepping for second half of mother mold... not very professional looking!

second half of mother mold done... looks pretty wonky, but I think it just might work...

easily the most bad ass mold I've made to date

Still not done! There is a whole other set of steps to opening up the mold and preparing it for its first cast

All the parts opened, cleaned and ready to go! Wish me luck...

Week 14 of 48

May 10, 2010

I feel a little bit bad for the May residents; their arrival yesterday was greeted by snow. Two weeks ago it snowed a foot in the middle of Vermont Artists Week—and I mean a foot of accumulated snow, not just general precipitation—but none of the Vermonters flinched though there was some surprise. Yesterday it snowed with a cold blizzard-like wind ALL DAY as residents arrived and dragged their luggage from check-in to their rooms to their studios. Yuck. We are all keeping our fingers crossed that there will be no more of that until November. Enough is enough. Now for some miscellaneous art-ish things…

3D doodles...

Been having fun making these inbetween bouts of endless plaster carving

they make me feel like I am accomplishing something other than making the pile of plaster dust bigger

don't ask me what they are... nothing more than doodles for now...

after well over 40 hrs. of carving in 3 days, the bottom is almost complete...

This weekend marked the end of 3 months (counted in residency time, not calendar time) here in Vermont and was filled with a lot of reflection about my place here. April was a tumultuous month with mud season, issues with residents and staff, difficulties reigning in the office work and very limited time in studio. Cabin fever has been in the air along with wondering if I can actually survive a year in this bizarre contrived community. Every day is a roller coaster of emotions oscillating between really wonderful moments and complete despair over how trapped I feel here. It regularly occurs to me that I might hate living here. I love it as a residency, but to stay year round is something else entirely and I am losing all enthusiasm about this situation. It becomes more and more difficult to be excited when meeting new residents and to pretend I enjoy being here; more and more difficult to want to work to improve things, to invest any of myself in this place. Today marks the beginning of Vermont Artists Week, a one week residency just for artists who are Vermont residents, and then the following week is what is known as “Work Week“, the only week ALL YEAR when there are no residents at all. Rumor says it’s the best week all year for getting a lot of work done in studio because there are no residents to interfere and no scheduled activities. I can’t wait. I’m also hoping to use these two weeks of supposed good studio time as a gauge for whether or not I can stay through the year. If I can’t get good work done during the best week of the year, then I’m not going to be able to get good work done any other time and I need to leave. So wish me luck! I have made myself a new schedule that I think will improve my studio hours and includes good chunks of time everyday for walks and yoga to mentally escape a little. I also set my studio up so I can spend nights there in order to hide from everything/everyone when necessary (I’ve been going crazy at my complete lack of privacy)—all of which I think will really help in the future. I’ve also talked with my roommate about borrowing her car on occasion since I have no means of getting out of this stifling town and that should help as well, though I can’t go too far with it since it isn’t technically hers. That’s where I’m at with everything and I will keep you posted on how the next few weeks go. If this weekend doesn’t become a turning point in my time here, then I will have to start working on an exit strategy.

finally made myself stop working on the top of the diamond... I could continue carving away at it forever and never be done since it would never be perfect, so I made myself stop here...

Some new green casts

lime green transparent gem

they had already degraded a bit before I took these pics (with the new camera!)—all the little pock marks...

Week 3 of 52 at VSC

February 21, 2010

Unfortunately, I am ridiculously ill this week. The only reason I left the house at all today was in search of internet to write this weeks entry. To my chagrin, there is no internet in my house or studio, so I can only make use of it in the lounge or at the coffee shop. Since I have spent the majority of this week dying in bed or in the office working, there has been very little time in studio. But, before I came down with the illness, I managed to get started carving the plaster diamond I started back in December. As it creeps closer and closer to diamond-like perfection, I get more and more nervous about messing it up—to the point of actually having nightmares about destroying it! I guess I don’t usually make such precious forms—I’ve never been one for preciousness in individual objects, so I’m sure that adds to the anxiety. In any event, as soon as it is done, it will be time to mold it, and if I can get over this flu/cold quickly enough, I should be able to make the mold this week…

One last oddly photoshopped panoramic of the studio, pre-working

Carving the diamond, making a huge, nasty, dusty mess in studio... photo creds to Kate

State of the diamond by the end of the week... not a lot of progress, but only a few facets left to cut and then lots of patching and sanding...

The only benefit to spending so much time at home wanting to die is lots of quality roommate bonding; Kate has been sick with the same thing. For several days now, all we do is sit at home and chat about anything and everything over hot totties, herbal teas and lots of Emergen-C…

Merry Christmas Eve!

December 24, 2009

I am kind of in shock that it is really here! Being secluded in Vermont for the majority of the pre-Holiday season meant that I missed out on all the reminders of the Holidays. No commercials, no decorations, no gift buying, no shopping, no Christmas carols, no Christmas food or drink, no Christmas parties, no candy canes, no silver bells, no Christmas trees or ornaments or lights, no malls, no movies, no bilboards or other forms of advertising to remind me ’tis the season. Without all of that, it was so easy to forget the Holidays were approaching and that perhaps I should be thinking about them. Instead, I was spending every moment of my days and nights thinking about candy, sugar, gemstones, diamonds, relationships, forever, permanence, the ephemeral and transitory, jewelry, value, icons and symbols, and of course people, new friends, old friends, potential new co-workers, old co-workers, jobs, life, change, and movement. So without further ado, a few more pictures from my studio… taken almost exactly a week ago!

This is a giant plaster model of a standard cut diamond in progress

A close up of the texture while building up the plaster little by little and cutting it back to keep it all consistent

After roughing out the basic shape, I mapped out the facets and began carving them in with a file. Long, slow and exhausting work...

I had hoped to finish this process before leaving, but I only got a little over half of the facets cut before it was time to clean up and prepare to leave. As soon as I am back in Vermont, I will finish this monster off and then make a mold of it so I can cast the candy in the mold and create giant diamonds and gemstones made out of sugar. Once a few gems are cast, I have a few vague ideas about what to do with them, but I sort of want to wait to see how the casts work before I commit to anything, so we shall see… I also made molds of the top and bottom half of the fifty cent vending machine toys I showed in an earlier post.

Here they are covered in plasticine, ready for a plaster mother mold

I did at least finish these molds before I left, although the food grade silicone didn’t set up in time for me to actually cast any candy in them. Again, these will be first on the list when I get back to Vermont. Cast a few sets of candy into each of them and see how they turn out…

Untitled 8 (Beautiful)

December 1, 2009

I finally had my first big breakthrough last night. I spent the first few days here making a rubber mold, messing it up, fixing it, making a mistake, inventing a new mold making technique to fix it, etc. etc. Once I finally got a functioning mold, I began trying to cast home made hard candy in it and wow has it been a challenge. When I did the smaller casts at home in the old My Little Pony molds, everything worked like a dream on the first try and it all seemed so simple. However, the change in scale to a kickball sized mold made a huge unexpected difference. Suddenly it was impossible to get an even coating of candy throughout the entire inner surface. With the first cast, I didn’t make the candy correctly and it never hardened properly. The second cast I poured the candy out when it was too hot, creating an incredibly thin shell, meaning it crumbled and shattered when I opened the mold. This trial and error system went on for several more casts, each time getting a little closer to a successful full cast, but each time shattering and crumbling in the end. Every time I tweaked something about how I ran the cast, it would come out slightly better and therefore encourage me to continue adjusting, thinking EVENTUALLY it had to work. Towards the end of the day yesterday, though, I was starting to think that I should stop forcing the candy to do what I want and maybe step back and spend some time learning what the candy wants to do instead. Even though I finally got a successful cast yesterday (by pouring the candy in, closing up the pour spout with some plasticine, and continuously rolling the mold for a good 2 hours while it cooled), it’s still ugly, too thick and not really what I was hoping for. At least now I know it is possible though and can continue to tweak my technique until I am a pro. It still seems like it might be a good idea to step back and just play with the candy for a day or two before pushing forward. I might find some nice effects that I wouldnt have found on my own.

Anyways, without further ado, some pictures. I have also been taking time lapse photography while working in the studio so I will post the first week of video soon…


Kickball covered in plasticine with pour spouts and dividers for 2 mold halves

plaster mother mold... I used cheap modeling plaster and it was a big mistake, next time it will be half ultracal, half modeling...


After mother mold, I opened up the plaster, pulled out all the plasticine and put the ball back in to pour the rubber

I totally f-ed up the rubber but sort of invented a new technique in my attempt to save it... will explain that more another time, but here is the completed mold with kickball model, rubber mold, and plaster mother mold

The mold all closed up and waiting for candy to be poured in...

the mold upside down over a pot to drain out extra candy-this didnt work but it might in the future...

Next time will be the candy half of the process…

Yesterdays Schedule: I’m actually really sick of writing about my schedule and you’re probably sick of reading it so no more of this…



Production Mode

August 3, 2009

Last week was my first full week of production mode–woohoo!  Production mode is always my favorite part of any project–you get to just do it, machine style, without thinking anymore, whatever “it” may be.  The thought process part is over (or at least stalled for a while–I’ll probably have to think again when it comes time to actually install) and I get to just make stuff!  Freely!  I have to say it feels pretty awesome to just blast through casting, although I’m also going through the slip really fast!  I ordered a new 5 gallon bucket the previous week and it’s already 3/4 empty!  Thankfully that was the last bucket I’ll need to purchase–from now on I’ll either make slip out of the studio porcelain clay body by adding defloculant or make my own casting slip from scratch.  It’s great to have 2 buckets though, because I can cast that much faster.  I’ve managed to figure out a really nice rhythm of casting 4 molds at a time (I only have 4 mold straps and 8 molds) and then switching to cleaning up the last set of 4 while the new set dries in the mold.  It’s going great so far!  See for yourself!

beautiful porcelain casting slip

beautiful porcelain casting slip

molds all lined up, waiting for slip

molds all lined up, waiting for slip

Yay production mode!  This sort of represents 1 8hr. day of work

Yay production mode! This sort of represents 1 8hr. day of work

fresh casts in the newest molds, including the six parter!

fresh casts in the newest molds, including the six parter!

these guys were fresh out of a bisque kiln, ready for the reduction kiln

these guys were fresh out of a bisque kiln, ready for the reduction kiln

the previous days' casts, mostly dry and ready for the bisque kiln

the previous days' casts, mostly dry and ready for the bisque kiln

the hotbox is one of the best tools ever!  helps dry out the molds during and after casts, as well as the casts themselves--totally speeds up the process, especially given the summer humidity

the hotbox is one of the best tools ever! helps dry out the molds during and after casts, as well as the casts themselves--totally speeds up the process, especially given the summer humidity

opening the bisque kiln and finding teeth mixed in with the pots

opening the bisque kiln and finding teeth mixed in with the pots

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