Intensive Bronze adventures
by Katie Anderson
I’ve spent a while looking for the right course to spend a bit of time focusing my work work and technical approach this year. Looking to develop my own practice generally, as well as working towards completing a couple of current works in progress, I eventually spotted the Scottish Sculpture Workshop’s Intensive Bronze course – and remembered Eden Jolly, course leader and technician extraordinaire telling me how great a week it was. It really was.
I’ve done a wee bit of bronze casting before, and arrived with a long list of things to test and explore. I managed to narrow it down a little for the practicalities of a five day course..(!)
Test 1: I’ve been working on a series of woven bark and basket-styled objects – as samples for a bigger project on a larger scale. Quick and rushed plaster mould to wax and then through the ceramic shell lost wax process.
Complete pain to get a decent moulding of, and lost the detailing on the reverse – mostly due to the size and scale I was working at, and a bit of uneven filling during the pour which has lost some of the definition at the end points.
Test 2: I’ve been working on some clockwork pieces for a while, making cogs and pinions in ply, but thought they might be a bit more interesting moved into bronze, at least in some parts of the clockwork. These weren’t very perfect to start with even in ply, and going through an organic burn out process was pretty interesting – directly coating the ply pieces in ceramic shell material before burning out the ply pieces in their entirety.
These needed the most finishing post casting, and are still a bit rough and ready, as they lost a little detail in the teeth during the pour but pretty lovely clunky things. Now excited to keep working on the clockwork pieces to incorporate these (and work around the shrinkage of the pinions as they have gone through this process).
Test 3: Surface pattern. I’ve done a wee bit of ceramic shell casting before, but really wanted to learn a bit more about sand casting as a potentially more accessible route for developing the Stove’s Pedal Powered Foundry for use at home and locally with new workshops. I’ve had these moulds from a series of casts of the Solway shore for a while, but lately I’ve been developing an urge to redevelop them into a beautiful piece as the original moulds never really got that far.
Beautiful sand mould surface texture. Suitably sandy for the solway shore. (Note the odd bump to the design due to my clumsy temporary plasticine centre)
Basically, everything is better once it has been set on fire.
Sort of listening, sort of not listening about the ‘don’t use that wax, it’s too dark a colour’. Really useful stuff. Might’ve also used a bit much, but it has settled down a wee bit.
Plus, my biggest metal pour yet, here Maria and Margret pour out the unused bronze ready for casting another time in the second pour of the week.
Major thank you to Eden and Uist for all the technical support, information and giggles, Annie at the office for being awesome and superbly helpful, and lots of love to my new casting pals for an excellent, laughter-filled week. SSW is an amazing place.
Also, I’m back in the ITSA (Table Squennis) website’s trading cards collection… (Goldy Trumpet features here) I plan to learn the rules on my next trip up North.
My attendance on the course was supported by the South of Scotland Visual Artist and Craft Maker Awards funded by Creative Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway Council and Live Borders. This is a really amazing award and fund, if you are an artist or craft maker based in Dumfries and Galloway or the Borders, you can apply for the second round of the 2017-18 scheme, the deadline for which will be in February 2018. Full details available online here