Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Framework, structure, skeleton                                                                                                         

The past week has been very demanding - both physically, as the welding become increasingly difficult and hard to reach; and mentally and emotionally, as the uncertainties are growing. Will it all fit together? What if I have miscalculated the sizes, the shapes, the angles??
Steel flats that seemed so strong and un-bendable before I started, now seem too thin and weak to hold ceramics. I am discovering that metal is a soft material ( comparing to ceramics) if you have the right tools.
And I have to push on to find the answers: will it work?

Taking shape:

Main structure is completed. It is quite flexible and not really rigid. It is also not flat on the ground when turned over (one foot in 3 reaches the ground). I knew it wouldn't be, but now is the time to deal with it....

structure, lines and shadows:

It fits, it fits!!

Working on the base; it needs to be stable and sturdy. If you look carefully, you can see a metal pole in the center reaching from the top to the base. There will be another three before it is finished.

When I was a student, I was ( as most ceramics students I know) intrigued with combining ceramics with other materials. But never, in my wildest dreams I thought that I would be combining with metal, in such a way.
As I stand back and look at the complex angles forming the shape, I am pleased. All the hexagons and pentagons are coming together nicely. Base could of been more elegant, perhaps, but I am concerned with safety and stability...

It is done.
This week, forecast is for the temperatures between 35 - 39 degrees Celsius. (overnight minimum of 24)
Today we have reached 40 degrees, and I am happy that the welding is done.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Metal construction                                                                                                          

As the triangles making is nearing end, it is time to face another challenge...metal framework to hold it together. Now I am venturing into uncharted waters and this is the real point of departure from the previous sculpture. 
The idea is to have each triangle bolted to a Y shaped metal, and Y shapes connected with the bracket bent to 14 o  to create the sphere.

It looks easy on the paper, but it is full of challenges in the real life.
I have been working on it for at least couple of weeks now...
First job was to cut components for the Y shapes, drill holes for the bolts and weld them to form Y. I'm using 25 x 3 mm mild steel.
In order to create 135 Y, I had to cut 540 bits of metal in 6 different sizes, drill 405 holes and then weld them together.
And approximately 250 brackets, bent to 14 o  
I am a novice welder, but an excited one, and now a proud owner of a Mig welding machine.
(Isn't that a wonderful Christmas present for a girl!) 
Here are my first efforts with my own welder, with the bracket positioned between the two triangles:

So far, it is all working to plan. Of course I made a template (jig) to weld on, to assure that all holes are exactly where they should be to fit the ceramic. I measured it directly from the finished ceramic pieces (as the clay shrinks in drying and firing it was much safer and more accurate to do it that way). 
To tell the truth, my husband made the jigs as he has so much more patience for those things that I do, and I'm very grateful.

Welding the Y shapes into clusters to create hexagons and pentagons is much more difficult as it is not welding on a flat surface. There are those 14 o brackets in between complicating everything.
The solution was to purchase laser cut metal triangles and weld them together to form a welding template.
I'm not sure if I can explain it clearly, but pictures should help. Those metal triangles are beautiful in themselves. Here they are ready to be welded together, to create a welding jig.
It took hours to position them to get to this point.

Y shapes bolted to the jig, with brackets welded in between:

Finished hexagon:

I have to make 15 hexagons and 6 pentagons. The scope of the project is becoming scarily big the further I travel...

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Orbis & Icos, fresh out of the kiln:                                                                                                            

And they have all survived the glaze firing, to 1220o C. They were fired with the opening towards the kiln shelf as that way the shape is most stable. I expected the one on the right to have stress cracks as it consists only of the single layer of thrown shapes, with quite a few holes ( I was toying with the idea of inserting the light fitting). As you can see, each one is slightly different... do they look like skeletons of planktons on the bottom of the sea??

Detail, hoping to answer to Linda's comment to the previous post:

I have sprayed dusty pink dry glaze under the crawl glaze on one part of each sphere, to give it a  "blush":

And this is Icos, made with the same mould, but with a very different technique:

As I'm writing this, another bisque kiln full of triangles is cooling down. Unless I have miscalculated the number of triangles ( it is easy to lose count when the studio is full of triangles in various stages of making, drying, waiting to be glazed or fired.....) this should be the last bisque firing.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015


When I was making the mould, this is the process I had in mind, but I was not sure if it would work. So far, it seems to be working and I'm very happy:

First Orbis is in the bisque firing. I hope that it is stable enough to survive.
If it does, it will still have to go through the glaze firing challenge before I know if I have a piece or not. It is risky, as it can crack, distort and break. I don't want to think about it.....