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sculpture

Version 2

I’ll drop in context later, for now go to Wetlands for an explanation._DSC5883_DSC5963_DSC5964_DSC5965_DSC5761_DSC5968_DSC6425_DSC6418_DSC6424

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View from the sidewalk on Wilmington.

Installation day started off raining and chilly, just how the fish like it. With two handy fellows helping (Jed, who helped install the last group, and Mike) things got started at 8am and finished by 3pm with time off for lunch at one of the restaurants on the plaza. A solid day of digging and lifting heavy things, but all are in the ground and everyone is happy.

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Swimming alongside the concrete current.

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Follow their lead to the next fish.

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Enter the plaza and these singles stairstep up the planter beds.

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Lower single swimmer.

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Upper single swimmer.

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The pair take a bead on you as you leave the plaza.

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The swim around the base of a tall tower.

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The fish like their new digs.

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Out on the big plaza, bridging the Hidden Hollow trail on Parley’s Creek.

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Parley’s Creek is just past the sunny bit of lawn at the top of the image.

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They swim just within the boundary of the plaza.

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Heading toward the curved public bench.

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Linking the curvy landscaping to the riparian trail.

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The blue concrete connects the pair to the singles under the tower.

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The plaza is so big, the fish become invisible from the far end; good thing there are fish at this end too.

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Thursday. Pair One.

Chemlab for fishies. The fish enter the sandblast tent and are stripped of all contaminants and oxidation. With the surface sand-scoured, all imperfections show up and I put in some last fidgets with welding and chasing- then back in the tent for a follow up visit from Dr.Sanders. The surface glows a muted gold, but is as vulnerable to the air as a ginger to the high desert sun. Like a base-tan with sunscreen, they need a chemical etching that bites into the bronze then goes inert allowing a skin of protection. The fish go black with this initial etching layer, but it allows other chemicals to safely react to the surface and bring out other colors. The fish will go blue-green (Cupric Nitrate and Zinc Nitrate) with hints of dun yellow and yellow-green (a few drops of Ferric in the solution), while the hoops will turn a rich brown with white in all the recesses.

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Sandblast. Weld / Chase. Sandblast.

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Layer One: basecoat etching sprayed on.

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Layer One: Rinse.

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Layer One: dry / set with heat.

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Two single fish, a welder, and a plastic enclosure hiding a sandblaster. Oh dear.

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Layer One: scrub back to chocolate.

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Etched and toned and ready for color.

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Cupric / Zinc Nitrate brings on the color.

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Friday’s fish is already done, this is Saturday’s fish.

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Saturday: single fish #2

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Hooking on for the next round of Cupric to green out the middle.

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Single #2 has Ferric added in for surprise areas of y/g.

Patina builds up with chemicals and heat, layer after layer. Control of the process is partly knowing when you haven’t gotten there yet with knowing when to stop, all the while blending out areas that come on too fast and bringing up areas that seem to never get there. There is quite a bit of alchemy to it, as it is a mad science.

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Sunday Duo: out of sandblast.

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swimming around the driveway

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Sandblast. Weld / Chase. Sandblast. is how the morning went

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Expand into your golden hours…

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… soon they live only in memory.

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Etching layer squirt.

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Blackened, rinsed and heated. too hot out for the next bit.

I cleared the only chem shop in the valley of their Cupric Nitrate, a trace of 100g- or about not enough for one fish. They ordered more, it should have been in last Thurs/Fri, it wasn’t. I’ve used my reserve stash for the first 4, and have just the 100g left for this last pair which will never make it. The fish will have to set overnight and see if the order arrives tomorrow- not a hardship on the human to wait as temps peaked out at 98 degrees.

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Sunday’s Poled Pair

One pair grew poles today, and the last pair will sprout poles tomorrow. It takes a few fish biscuits to get the pair to fly sideways and perfectly level to the ground, plus two hoists and the forgotten magics of the Masons for establishing level as vertical as horizontal as plumb. Once the last pair has legs, then everyone gets a last once-over for fine tuning; then the shop is flipped over for sandblast and patina.

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Swim team.

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Stanley brings E along for the inspection.

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Last pair tacked to hoops.

All the fish are chased out, the singles are affixed to their poles, and the pairs are joined in their hoops awaiting their poles. It is nice to have some creative choices that need choosing; which fish be single, which will be paired, and who makes the best pairs. Once the relationships between the 4 pair-able fish are explored by hefting them amongst each other, I start writing on them in marker of who goes with who, then change my mind and zip off the marker and have a few more go arounds and marker notes of who is on what side, who is forward or back, or higher or lower. Then making the pairs of hoops farther(20″)/nearer (12″), which establishes a governing rule of how the fish can be welded, yet still staggered. This regularity helps unify each pair while giving each pair a unique aesthetic. The curvier pair goes with the shorter hoops measure, and the straighter pair has the longer hoops.

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Singles with poles, and a pair.

One fish is set in first and tacked in place, then the next fish is placed and marked then removed. Then I beef up the welds on the first fish, unless I need to snap them and reposition- in this case they were fine. Then the second fish is put back in aligned with its marks, reassessed, then tacked and welded. Next the pair is hoisted aloft and rolled side to side in midair for better welding angles (sorry no picts of the flying fish this time around).

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Today’s leading yesterday’s pair.

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Curvy animation.

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Swishing tails.

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Ready for poles.

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Fish #3. Fit well and hadn’t suffered a wax room collapse at the foundry.

The difference between the six finished wax trout I dropped off, and what I was handed back is like working forensics from a recognizable corpse; true Frankenfish that I have to reanimate to their original quality. The problem isn’t piecing in random remains to cover the parts lost in casting, but they too may be traced back to The Crime Scene: the foundry wax room. They did 10 trout for me on the last big commission and they were all fine, this time we are 1 of 3 so far, or in actuality, 1 of 6.

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This is the dorsal fin from the Fish #1. See how it connects cleanly to the body with details all the way down. They biffed it a little toward the front, as some of the circles are partial, but did a fair job of touch-up. I went in and put in new circles in the bronze where I touched up their line.

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This is fish #3 where the wax room tried to re-affix the dorsal fin after it softened and rolled to the side, collapsing into the body. They pulled it upright and slathered in some wax. They had five other fish to look at to check their work, so going for a standard of sux. 

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This is their attempt on the other side of the fin. Almost worse.

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The horizontal fin is wrong as well. They stuck it back on- see how it had deformed the body of the fish as it torqued upward? That’s bcs the room was too hot to store finished waxes.

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It curves. So there’s a minimum bar met. There was an abrupt line smashing inward along one of the bisection seams from the wax room laying it on the table to attach sprews. This went unnoticed and took the medium sledge to massage back to alignment with the other section.

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Still a long way to go ’til they all are up to snuff. Ima gonna lose mu myund if the remaining half (of parts that cast and new parts made in wax to fit where parts failed in bronze pour) are the same, or likely worse. I may still just reject the skinny middle fish from yesterday. They are also doing an entire replacement fish; lets hope this job is done by one of their competent staff and not the sprew crew.

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Not the fun Peter Gabriel sort of sledgehammer.

First of the Frankenfish. If this is an indication of what is to come, then there may have been a big fubar in the foundry wax room; letting the wax fish get too hot and slump/collapse. Which I warned them about, and only annoyed the wax personnel- this could also be partly why so many failed in pour. Four of the fish should be swishing their tails and two should be straight. So far I have either finished out the two straight fish, or, all or some of the four swishing tails slumped in the too hot wax room. The big foundry I worked in back in the day kept their wax room air conditioned year round, as a hot wax room is a recipe for disaster.

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Drill hole, bang on pin.

The fish halves aligned well enough, but had no sense of volume when it came together. The other side needed pushing out, so nothing to do but drill a hole and bust out the sledges. Any missed hit will collapse this side, but any amount of hitting the pin seems to amount to nothing. Upping the sledge size also ups the chance of disaster. Slowly and with just a few hits to the hand, the metal grudgingly moved just enough to match this side. A skinny fish, but not a gaunt one.

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 This is not what a good day looks like.