Friday, August 31, 2012

Winding Down, Revving up

Blue Moon  36x60 Acrylic on Canvas
The end of August is that wonderful pause between seasons here - my special unofficial pause when change becomes palpable .

The Hoards of Hummingbirds that book-ended the monsoons have dissipated, having consumed 40+ pounds of sugar in 6 weeks, and provided much enjoyment at the kitchen sink.

All the little yellow allergens are beginning to bloom - final weedings and mowings loom, and ou 4x8 Grow Box begs to be renewed with compost and reseeded with fall greens

Sparrows bathe in the sprinkler shower on the vinca growing in the dry shade under the huge black locust trees that line the acequia that cuts its now dry chasm through the front yard. I found a small hemp plant growing near the bottom there yesterday, which makes me slyly happy with my neighborhood.

My final shows of the season march on ahead till after first frost, the SFSA Labor Day show behind the bank off the Plaza, our 19th Annual Pojoaque River Art Tour on Sept 15-16, and then for me five consecutive weekends back downtown in my "gallery".  We'll share our beautiful sunny weather as it gradually cools off with lucky visitors come to enjoy the same.

Having finished a large painting and readied 3 waxes for the foundry this month, I won't feel so pressured to produce more. Celebration returns from the foundry, and I hear there were problems with my wax - if necessary, I'll be creating another. My new wax pot (a turkey roaster) intimidates me, and it appears I didn't make the wax hot enough for a good clean wax the first time.I'm really happy with "Blue Moon" pictured above!  And, I will have to wrestle with whether to make applesauce this year, the spring weather having provided that rare choice! Maybe a morning of red chili jelly instead? (Mine is really good!)

Celebrating the blue moon and the inauguration of Fall, I am reminded of why I love my life here. And happy I took time to enjoy and share it!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Visiting the Past

Aluminum wire armature for Celebration
Tonight I watched a special on network TV honoring teachers, with multiple wonderful stars talking about the teachers who were special to them - Jennifer Garner, Meryl Streep, the main guy character from Glee, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Carrie Underwood, etc.- and was brought to tears several times by their stories, and of course thinking of my own time, early in my beginning as  a professional artist, as a teacher of English and art, particularly in an alternative high school, in Houston, Tx.  I don't think I was all that great - I was an anxious divorcee with elementary-age children, it was part-time (3 hours in the morning),  a stop-gap filler for my economic holes, enabling time to paint, exhibit,  travel on off-time(with sick-leave added in) for painting  but I have been (because of FB) intermittently in touch with a few of my students from the late 70's, early 80's. In fact one of them appeared in my booth recently and challenged me to remember her name from 30+ years ago. I couldn't of course, but thank you, Melanie Bell, for stopping by to say hi! Weirdly, I still dream about teaching there!
 I especially remember one art project, making wire sculptures with baling wire. One of my particularly dyslexic students made an amazing football player carrying a football, all out of wire, and he was so pleased, and so was I!  I think of that when making the armatures for various sculptures, though mine now are far more simple (skeletal supports only) than those made by my high school class.  The Arts, in any form,can  make an incredible difference to the different, the students for whom traditional academics are dazing and confusing and inaccessible.  I urge us all to support alternative forms of education - special arts and sciences high schools, home-schooling, the full spectrum of possibility, that all students may realize success in any form and go on to productive and happy lives.  To those I encountered and enjoyed at Memorial Hall, I salute you!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Celebrating a Process, and a Journey!

3-part main mold of the two figures.
Celebration, the wax, was off to the foundry on Thursday, August 2.  Almost six weeks to the date of receiving the molds, I finished "dressing" the waxes and Madd Castings, Berthould, Co, made their monthly run to Santa Fe to deliver "metal" and pick up waxes. Tricky business in the height of the summer heat!  The three parts above, edges coated with petroleum jelly to release stray wax, are brushed with melted (180 degree) wax, the edges to be trimmed carefully before the parts are fitted and bolted together.  One part, the back, rests on the wax pot, a temperature- regulated turkey roaster. Once bolted, hot wax will be poured in, moved about, and poured back out, until  1/4" wax is achieived. This is a very heavy mold, and was designed so it can rest easily upside down. The seat mold was finished only 2 days before deadline, so the last days of dressing were a definite push.
The waxes have flanges at the seams, and flaws (air bubbles, etc.) that have to be corrected - this part is "dressing the wax" and as the final result will be the bronze,  it has to be made as close to perfect as is possible.
Unmolded, undressed waxes
Bodies, sans parts
 To the left is the work to be done after unmolding. - seams cleaned up until invisible (using hot tips and heated wax tools), arms, legs and head positioned and reattached, flaws corrected. Final work is done with screens, mesh pads and a wax solvent. and last a signature (in my case, initials) draw on the wax in a discreet part.
 Below is the wax, ready to go...
Final Wax, ready for the foundry.l
This is fine and time-consuming work - I choose to do it, because I can make the subtle adjustments needed to make a beautiful work of each one in the edition.  The arms, legs, head are attached, with each adhered carefully to the body so there is no inaccessible space where chasing tools cannot work
( in a long consult with my chaser, we decided what would be necessary to make a piece that will be cast as one - no spare parts to be attached later.)  The white spots in the wax are the disclosing wax used to fill the tiny scratches, holes, for a uniform bronze surface. The bench will be cast separately.
Leaving all the other work needed for each piece is also a personal choice - understanding the complexities of mold-making, chasing and patinaes, the equipment and experience needed, it only makes sense at my point to hand it to an expert.  Many sculptors turn a clay over to the foundry, often for good reason, with the piece to be completed by others at each stage - a much more expensive alternative, with less control -  I could not manage to do even the waxes on pieces much larger than my scale.
I am especially pleased with the expressions of the face, and the dynamism of the pose, as he helps her onto his lap. At this point it is everything I hoped for!! A cause for Celebration! 

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