So yeah, things don't look that great but keep your chin up. Some of our parents and grandparents have withstood worse things than COVID-19, and we just gotta persevere. We're in a different age where we can access global information insanely quickly, but the amount of information we're exposed to can overwhelm us with the wrong information, often filled with semantics, politics and problematic opinions. Stay informed, double-check everything, and keep a positive mindset.
During this time my wrist has been killing me more than usual, which is terrible timing. I had intended to print every other day or so and generate a good stock of prints but it doesn't look like it's gonna happen quickly. It would be ideal to go to a physiotherapist but with how things are I am hesitant to do so... not in fear of getting infected, mind, but it does take a long time to get in touch with someone even outside of a pandemic. I'll try mending it with what I have here and just take it easy. It'll be a good opportunity to work on other less strenuous things, but I am still remorseful.
Gonna snap out of that by diving right into what I promised last week; glass casting.
So! I was first introduced to the process at Sheridan, obviously. Hot casting was the initial icebreaker; pouring a ladle-full of molten glass into a mold in a sandbed. This process is very hands-on and almost industrial in the sense that you can get multiples if you work efficiently. It requires a lot of preparation, and the more time you spend in the mold stage, the cleaner the casting is. The act of casting also requires a bit of skill; clean gathers and pours, perfect amounts of glass for the mold, control, ability to quickly recover and fix mistakes. I liked it, but I deviated to kiln casting in my later years since it was something I could take my time with and work independently. Sandcasting is a team effort. Since it was still within my major, I did offer to help my classmates with their pours and projects. I am still affectionately referred to as “Ninja Snips”.
As I mentioned, kiln casting was where I found my niche. I started sculpting with clay, but found that my preferred medium very quickly was microcrystalline wax. It's also very hands-on, but not fast-paced. I had complete control on how long I can spend my time with each piece. When I attended Western I was noted to have poor sculpting skills but I realize that my materials were just lacking. The closest I'd say I got to the sculpting I excelled at was making a concrete gnome. Could have been a good indicator of the process I would end up pursuing, even if it's applied differently.
It gets extremely technical in a kiln room. You've got pounds of wax to melt and maintain in a way it doesn't suffer from dirt or water contamination. You gotta make sure you don't get wax on every surface while you work, so containing it in a space is mandatory. Making a mold properly ensures it can survive glass-melting temperatures, but even a good mixture can't save a poorly-plotted orientation of a piece. Steam-out of the wax is messy business and can also compromise the integrity of the mold. Placement of your mold in a kiln is important with air circulation and heat distribution in mind. Understanding what's happening inside the kiln both theoretically and practically is something you gain from experience. Demolding has to have good timing and etiquette. The difficulty of coldworking the piece depends on what you planned ahead with sculpting in the first place... your sanity depends on where you ended up placing that reservoir.
Man, all that vague jargon! In order to explain everything more thoroughly I'd have to dedicate posts to each step in the process. You can always comment or contact me if there's anything in particular that you're interested in.
I became particularly enamoured with making casted vessels... drinking horns in particular. Drinking horns started as a thing for me in Glassblowing, since its very simple shape made a great basis for more ornamental, story-telling elements. Since blowing wasn't my schtick, I carried it over to kilncasting. The trouble, of course, is that it's a hollow object; most castings are solid. So, hollow-core casting was something I studied, making multiple prototypes and figuring out exactly how I can effectively cast this shape. Since it initially has no point where it can sit stable, I have to make bases for them, but I always find that they detracted from the look. So I started giving them feet. It's still something I want to do when I start working with a kiln again.
It's been nearly a year since I graduated and I'm perpetually in the wax-sculpting stages. I'm partly glad I am because I'm not losing touch with the medium. I've also done dozens and dozens of rubber casts of them, so when it comes to it I'll be prepared for a production scenario. Now, with the COVID-19 outbreak, I have a lot to work with indoors. I have a few drinking horn and shot horn prototypes to finalize, as well as a lot of bottles to play around with. For the time being I'm brainstorming interesting and symbolic cores for them, so obviously I've made small human skulls to start me off. Even if I get to the point of making their molds, I won't be able to fire them any time soon in quarantine.
So I'll just keep waxin' away!
How do printmaking and glass casting intertwine? Find out next week when I talk about integrated glass printing.