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.


Only one fish is made of matching parts.


A disappointing catch.


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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…


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


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


The 3-levels of pond, from last May. The top two pools are shallow and small, which is a liability in the desert summer heat. Back in 2010 I dug the lowest pool down and put in a new liner; that was a practice run on what comes next.


Here the top two ponds are stripped down to their liners, with all their stone stacked on the bench to the top/left. The waterline snakes up from the bottom pool to the right and into the partially buried garbage can (home of the filter system), then continues through the wooden platform-box to spill into the top pool. 


All the new pond hardware is ordered and en-route, so a full day on prep of removing flagstone,  and river stone.


This is the algae soup bowl; 4’x8’x20inches deep. The two plastic buckets at the top of the frame guard a tasty pair of plants from the brood of Quail that live in the yard.


I have put a bubbler in the lower pool to keep it oxygenated while the pump / waterfalls are off.


The footprint of the new pond is laid out, tamped and leveled, with precast retaining wall bricks put in place as a guide.


Time for a good old-fashioned hole-diggin’. Dig out the hole onto a pile next to the hole, then dig that pile into the wheel barrow, then cart the dirt as backfill to the covered watercourse behind the green shed.


This whole section will get filled, then I’ll fill in under some of the old trees with the rest. This follows the old watercourse that I set into pipe and buried a few years back to reclaim this section of our yard from the neighbors.


The pond will have a deep level (3′ or greater) and a sloping shelf for plants. The alluvial soil is sandy and tends toward clay, but no rocks. It is wet and sticks to the shovel like heavy tar. 


All dug out with a shadow of the quail weather vane. The layer of sand cushions the pond liner.


It took a 15 x 25′ liner to cover the 8 x 8′ footprint. 


The retaining wall is built and includes a new waterfall mouth that regulates the flow into a 16″ wide cascade.


So much plumbing. The blue tape shows roughly where the new piping will connect to the filter lines. Last fall I built a bypass for the filter for winter, housed with the filter inside the can; it is still running in winter mode. The looped tubing connects to the filter’s cleaning valve, and needs to be hidden. Everything needs to connect up to the black box under the flagstone- that is the back end of the waterfall regulator.


After filling the pond the water needed to sit for 24 hours so we didn’t shock the fish with chlorine. The wait time allowed runs to the hardware store to fit out the waterlines. It lives!


The cascade rolls out well clear of the wall and has a big voice.


I rebuilt the plumbing for the lower pond as well, with this goose-neck connection and a hard line down to the pump.


Kaye’s big yard frog nestled in and mostly submerged with the pond lilies.


The aluminum figures all find new places.


I put in another few days; re-fitting the metal mesh to guard the fish from raccoons, building out the back-end to hide the plumbing, and resolving the giant dirt piles. So many tweaks that needed pre-tweaking, yet tweaked out in the end.


Easter Tree Prime with Peter Rabbit and his little ducky friend he met along the way to deliver Easter to the Coatsville Asylum for Ladies & Gents (with non-denominational spring holiday fun).


Blown Eggs hand decorated and other nicknacks from a lost age of lady-craft.


Ceramic and carved wood and decoupaged and candles; all hidden among the roots.


Egg Tree Beta of glass ornaments, hand made superblings, and a working mechanical wind-up hopping bird from E & A’s childhood.


He did a perfect wounded bird dance, but the cats couldn’t be bothered as he is a mite clanky.


E superblinged the duckies a few years back.


Just a little part of the mantle menagerie.

Version 2

Some color for a rain-gloom spring day.


Found this hand-made wraught-iron at our local salvage yard (George’s); too small for the window, but too nice to pass up. After a bit of head scratching and measuring, and looking through my dwindling metal scrap, I came up with a solution.


During the summer I leave the window open and mount a fan in the ceiling access panel to draw cool air in and push the heat out. This takes the worry out of having the window open out there. 


Sturdy enough for pull-ups!



My metal cutting blades are all dull, so cutting the steel was loud and took some grinding. Predrilling holes for bolts, then welding it all together. Then a fresh coat of paint. Then mounting it. An afternoon of man-craft.


The full moon three weeks ago blew in with a hot dry wind, evaporating winter overnight. Nighttime lows have been average daytime highs, with daytime highs 20-30 over, setting many dire records: like 8 days in a row over 70 (prior record was 2 days).


Our ancient twisty tree flowers early.


Tulips and hyacinths are in full colors.




Rain finally in the forecast, so I worked Lucky’s patch with new soil and seed.


The rain gauge after 24 hours.


5.5 inches is 1/3 of our annual rainfall in just 24 hours, and two days later 2 1/4 inches more, and two days after that 2 5/8 inches more. Utah’s annual rain average is 14 inches and SLC is 16 inches. 

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.


Wax production area is go!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

These Infinity RS 6000 towers have been with me for 30 years; probably THE most important tool in my internal art kit.

The foam seals on the large cone drivers gave out and turned to powder, and the sound turned to a buzzy mess. I ordered new foam seals and took it all apart and replaced the seals- if you have nice older speakers with this issue it is an easy & cheap diy fix. If only my Carver Amp had survived as long…

I started the project by hunting through youtube demos on speaker repair; simplyspeakers posted a standout demo by an experienced professional who earned trust through clearly explaining his expertise- I ordered their repair kit. The kit arrived quickly and all four woofers are now in perfect working order; a straight-forward and satisfying d.y.i. project. Only when I had installed the kit did I realize how long the sound quality had been in decline. Listening is a nuanced pleasure again.