Labrador Armatures

To scale up from the 1/2 size models I first drew an outline around the models in blue pencil (it is a bit hard to see) then made a simple X grid and transferred the footprint to a larger board. Next I created an armature form in plywood. Measuring just under the actual size of the largest interior line, like a layer of bisection, I can estabish the basic dimension. Once this form was established I cut other forms to add support and further dimension, then screwed the forms to the base boards with L-brackets. Once secured I shot them full of wood screws, to act as anchor points for the next layer- expanding foam. The forms have required eight 16oz cans of sprayfoam so far. I spray the foam with water as I go along to speed the set time, but it still takes about 20-30 minutes between layers. If worked too fast the deep layer of foam won’t set properly, or the entire thing will slump and fall into a sticky mess. I worked one side at time, tilting the form on edge and foaming it out, then wait, rotate, spray, wait, rotate, spray…It takes 12-24 hours to cure out completely, then I will cut back into the foam measuring with calipers from the 1/2 size models (I’ve just eyeballed it so far) and adding more foam as needed. Once finished with the foam the armatures will be complete and the forms will be ready to skin with clay.

Since waiting for the foam takes forever I pulled out an old axe head with a shattered handle that I had brought back from Montana (probably lay broken for more than 50 years) and set about giving it a new handle. The old handle was fused tight inside the head, but consistant pressure of power drills, hammers & cutting wedges won out. Once the head was re-set I warmed it up with a torch to drive out all the water in the steel (more than you would think) and sealed it with WD40, then tamped it down on its heel a bit more. While the metal was still hot I drove in a fat wooden wedge, cut the top of the handle sprouting above the head but leaving the wedge, and drove the wedge in again. As the metal cools it will contract a bit, and help seat the handle. Then I dressed the blade. It needed to be ground down to a hard blunt and reformed due to the dings and years of sharpening without reforming. One side was significantly larger than the other, so it must have seen long hard regular use (and cut a lot of rocks) of being dinged up and ground back for decades.  The shape is still a bit off, but to really reshape it would have reduced the blade too far.  I’ll bring it back to the ranch for delimbing after taking down trees with the chainsaw.

I brought back an old scythe with a broken handle earlier in the summer and “fixed” it a few months back (it holds together on the wall as a display, but its working days are done).


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