All the stakeholders for the new nature center spoke eloquently with themes on the importance of establishing a relationship with the natural world through experience and education, and the optimism of an inspired pubic that acts as stewards and guardians through conservation. (click the website of the Eccles Nature Center)
I built a new oven for plastecine clay. I have hundreds of pounds of medium red (mixed with some hard red) that needs to be warm to be pliable, then cools and firms up. Warming it up with hand friction was how I worked the clay for years, then a friend in engineering gave me a unit he had thrown together to melt hard clay that I used ever since to warm my medium clay (shown at the end of the post). I often forgo using the old problematic heater, and my hands can’t take the abuse of creating friction to warm the clay, so I needed to get creative with a custom design. This oven is a great improvement over my old unit, as it will evenly heat the clay and hold it at a workable temperature, and with a 24 x 24 inch shelf I can load in a lot of clay.
This morning the Ibis built its nest site out at the new Great Salt Lake Nature Center at Farmington Bay with a little help from my friend Jed and I. Elizabeth imagines it must be quite a shock for the little guy after spending the past five and half months puttering around in the studio.
Under his feet I welded in large stainless steel anchor posts that rest on stainless steel angle stock (shown in December post). This stainless steel footing is immersed in a concrete footing. A concrete filled posthole reinforced with rebar drops below the concrete form box, adding thousands of pounds of strength to the structure ( the post hole digger is in the image at the left). The angled boards brace the sculpture while the concrete cures. I will return on Wednesday and remove the bracing and form-box, affix the turn-wheel, take the protective wrapping off the legs, replace the stones under and around the feet, and give him a final wax & polish.
Ready for New Years’ Eve now that the Ibis is complete. Patina went well and he is a nicely layered French Brown toning from reds to golds to chocolate. He wandered around the yard and I took pictures as he explored.
The floodgate for the Ibis is a Waterman C10 in Stainless Steel and cast iron. Tweak #1 was cutting it shorter. Tweak #2 (after complete disassembly) was repainting the 5 cast iron parts. Tweak #3 was grinding all the Stainless to a clean surface, then cutting the threaded SS lift rod and cleaning it’s nose and end. Then reassemble. I ordered bronze square tubing from Denver that is waiting out in the studio for the next step: cutting it to fit and welding it to the stainless (also welding all the stainless parts together and tack-welding all the bolts). Eventually the bronze Ibis head and legs will weld on as well.
I’ll drop in context later, for now go to Wetlands for an explanation.
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.
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.
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.
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.