Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sharing What We Know (& Don't Know)

Lately, I have appreciated the sharing that artists, especially potters have posted on their Blogs. This has enabled me to learn many new things. The visuals that artists include have been inspiring as they are helpful and interesting. Being new to the medium of clay there is A LOT I don't know. Through some of the creative Blogs I read, I've been able to peek into some of the best potter's and artist studios across the country.

Today, I worked on a metal wall sculpture that a customer wants of the Chugach Mountain Range. I thought I'd share part of the production process involving plasma cutting the steel. Currently, I use a Hypertherm brand plasma cutter. It is one of my primary metal working tools (along with my wirefeed arc welder) that I use in the shop. Here is a little YouTube of plasma cutting in action... you may want to crank the volume for the tunes alone (joking). 

I started with several digital images I took of the mountain range for reference. Using a marker, the mountains were drawn on the sheet metal. To take the pressure off myself, I make two sculptures and let the customer choose one and the other will go to the Gallery. This has worked well in the past for the client, the Gallery and me.

These are the 2-part consumables I use with every two sheets of steel. The manufacturer doesn't recommend changing the tips as often as I do -but the difference is like cutting butter vs. cutting pavement. I like to work faster rather than slower because I'm basically freehand drawing when I'm cutting.

Here are some of the mountains getting cut out. I wear a respirator, eye protection, welding gloves/clothes and have plenty of ventilation. There is a lot of sparks and particulate matter that gets blown down with the cutting. I still need to hand bend some round metal (cold rolled 3/8") stock for a back frame, weld up, heat treat, use the grinder for embellishment marks and apply a finish clear enamel. Well, that's just a quick peek at my project today and I'll try to remember to post pics of the finished piece.

4 comments:

Linda Starr said...

Gee, I thought I was brave puttng a match to my barrel today. Your work is so intriquing and hand's on, thanks for a glimpse into your process which seems so complicated to me.

cindy shake said...

You were BRAVE -Your barrel firing was so cool! It looked like you have the perfect spot. I thought it was interesting that you had to call the city first to get the OK (probably a good thing?) hopefully, someday I'd like to try barrel firing but I'm not sure I can get away with one in the city, and I have so many trees around outdoors...hmmm I'll work on it because your pictures were so inspiring to me.

Orion Designs said...

Love seeing you in action Cindy! I'm anxious to see some of your new work incorporating the clay.
Vicki

cindy shake said...

hi Vicki! thanks for the post. I've had fun with a few pieces, and success at the Galleries, which is alwyas a good sign! working in clay has been great, it's been difficult to get a good rhythm going though going back and forth with two completely different mediums. Like today, I wish I could do nothing but clay but I have a handful of big metal jobs to get out...oh well :o)