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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.

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The easy one. five to go.

Today was a fun-weld day, following many hohum-weld days coupled with doldrum days of chasing fins and grasses. Once all the bits and parts of major sections are perfect, then the parts are welded together, and though the welds are long, they just need smoothed out.

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Goldfish.

The only tackle needed is a hammer.  He was biting on the medium ball pein today.

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Finished halves welded together.

Welding the windows and chasing out the grasses to match is a bit of a chore. The two nearest hoops are new, the one behind is a left over from years ago (still needs some chasing). The new halves were joined along the midline in the rocks, which still need chased. I’ve been limiting my time-on-tool and wearing my new vibration deadening gloves, and things are going swimmingly.

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Half of the fish and 2/3 of the hoops.

The trout suffered a version of whirling disease while at the foundry and only half of them and two hoops could be salvaged. My meticulously formed wax trout made it through wax sprew, ceramic shell, burnout, but bronze pour blew out the sides of the ceramic shell (one of the rare places where Total Fail can occur). My last run of 10 trout and 7 hoops had no issues, this time around saw 50% mortality.

So last Friday I drove out to the foundry and we sorted through the parts that survived and grouped them out into parts that match and parts that almost match. We came up with three workable trout, and two spare heads and a tail fin. I brought the mold along and the foundry will create the wax bodies to match the heads, as well as making one entire trout. This is not the normal easy process of making identical forms by slurrying wax into a mold. The trout are all different and have to be done half by half all by hand, painting in layer by layer, with the mold slung over the curving/recurving platform, then the halves are joined. The process is posted three blogs back, or just tap the Cutthroat link on the sidebar.

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Only one fish is made of matching parts.

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A disappointing catch.

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The stainless steel pole has been in studio for a week, awaiting the fish.

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Wild-farmed vs Ocean-Farmed; I’ll use my CRISPR to combine them into one genome.

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A fish and his stream, still in stream of consciousness.

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Chasing bronze causes nerve damage that can lead to amputation. I have waited for my Cestus Tremblex gloves to arrive before I really jump into the metal work.

OSHA has noted that vibrating tools cause irreparable nerve damage, and glove mnfctr has not really moved beyond impact protection: except for Cestus gloves. My hands go dead (can’t even ride my bicycle as my hands catch fire then go dead from road vibration) and I am on my way “white finger”. Limiting my time on-tool and these gloves should go a long way to keeping my hands alive. Handses: the key tool.

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My one fish of matching parts has all pinholes filled and windows welded back in place.

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Streams with windows and pinholes welded out. I’ll chase them all out before I join the halves.

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Pins are all pulled, windows refitted to their holes, and edges are ground clean and bevelled. The tail is from a failed casting.

It snowed last night, and has been spitting snow all morning. This makes for a cold shop and my motivation level reached “blogging update”. Plus, chasing is the worst…

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These two remaining fish are Frankenstein Fish; I’ll be grafting remains of casting survivors.

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This tail goes with a head missing its midsection; this section lost the tail- so I’ll graft it.

Bonneville Trout are schooling again! I ramped the studio into wax production and pulled 6 new trout and delivered them to the foundry for rough-casting. They will eventually swim in the new Wilmington Courtyard in Sugarhouse, connecting the street of Wilmington to the Hidden Hollow riparian nature trail. This was greenlit by Salt Lake City, generously allowing City-owned reproduction rights to a private company to fulfill their public art requirement for new construction. It was a great example of public/private coordination to expand public art.

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Wax production area is go!

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Every bit of wax in the studio goes into the melting pot.

All six fish combined will require at least 40# of wax. Wax costs five times more than when last I ordered, as the manufacturer no longer sells directly (which adds a 50 mile drive just for wax). This set me to gather every broken bit of old sculptures and test-wax forms and in my hunting I discovered twenty-five pounds of wax slab & pouring foundations from creating Orpheus & Eurydice back in 2002. With everything going into the pot I just just just managed to form all 6 fish.

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Building up 8 layers of wax with 1″ chip-brush. Delerium monotaneity ensues.

Christmas Elves sent me gift cards for more power tools and one of them turned out to be the best wax cutting tool ever. It trembles at 26,000 vibrations per minute, and it moves through wax like a cold laser- no more molten wax drips burning a path across the sculpture or over my hands and clothes, no more jamming hot sharp steel into myself for hours on end. Just a few minutes of hornets-nest buzzing and both sides are smooth-seamed and ready to join.

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Curve and recurve sides are created separately then joined- this allows all fish to individually swim.

The halo of wax around the fish keeps the form tight to the mold so it doesn’t shrink and curl. It is that halo that the new tool removes so well. As the side of the mold that forms the outside curve cannot account for the amount of curve variance, I also have to bisect that fish half and shoe-horn in a custom section to take up the gap. In other words, I cut the head off just ahead of the dorsal fin and surgically insert a graft of new fish. This surgery is much easier with the new tool, and the fish hardly even feels it.

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Sides joined, seamed, and set to chill in the shop.

It could be argued that each fish is an original sculpture, rather than an identical version pulled from a common mold. The fish on the floor displays the surgical graft to the midsection, and thumb clamps helping hold the form in place as the hot seams cool.

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Orpheus’ severed head absolved to the abyss.

He guarded his secret cache of wax for 15 years, but his cache and himself went the way of his mythic being, and shared the tragic fate of his public art twin.

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Sequential Casting of Peter, long unfinished with an arm lost during casting- gets a new arm!

Marble arm prosthetic for the bronze figure. I wasn’t sure if it would work, but he says it feels almost normal. He is contemplating whether he wants a Marble foot as well.

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The new arm is cast in Marble. 

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The marble to bronze fitting took quite a bit of fussing. A casting window on the ball is filled with Marble as well.

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Part of both hands and a section of the ball were also seamed in place.

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A casting window on the calf gets a Marble plug.

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The shined bronze is from fitting the stone; another process mark.

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Meanwhile; Spring.

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Tulips at the edge of Iris.

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The resin casting came out pretty well. I blended marble powder at nearly 1:1 with the resin, making these figures poly-marble. I have yet to clean them up; the heat from the resin kicking off in the mold found and bound every bit of clay that hadn’t been scrubbed from the silicon mold, and there is some chasing necessary as there are some areas that picked up air bubbles and etc- but nary a seam line anywhere. At some point I’ll switch up my media and do a set in cold-cast bronze. Now I wish I’d taken these little sketches just a bit further along and resolved some the proportional gaffes / refinement of features /  extension of gesture.  So I may remake them, to push them further toward Rodin’s use of torsion and collapsing v enervation.

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the underside of her forearm didn’t cast- probably an air bubble. also- the ball she balances on her shoulder…I’ll give her a glass or a steel marble.

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