Sunday, February 28, 2010

how to make a monster

It has been difficult to chronicle the making of a work from start to finish. My greatest hurdle is the fact that when starting a new work, I do not have the slightest confidence that I will be able to complete the project.

A second problem is my absent-mindedness. Once involved in a project, the rest of the world seems to recede in the background - my surroundings de-evolving into a slightly annoying hum - suddenly finding myself on step 7, without any photo documentation of steps 2 through 6.

Casting the former hurdle from mind, and documenting steps 1 and 2 while working on step 3, we begin:


Step 1: This particular item is to be a ring with a wide shank. Starting with a hard wax will allow for detailed carving. This photo shows the wax cylinder with a slice cut off that could serve as a base for a ring.


Step 2: This is a photo of the wax cylinder slice carved into the basic shape of the ring. (Ignore the 'step 3' workings on the back of ring.) This step is done by hand to begin removing the 'machined' look from the model. The final piece must look as 'organic' and natural as possible.


Step 3: Spinning the ring around, you can see the early stages of step 3 where the ring is taking shape by both manipulating the wax base itself, and adding elements that are easier to attach than carve by hand into the wax surface.

'Grafting' a garden snake's shed skin gives us a textured, outer skin for our monster. Veins are placed under the area to be grafted so that once the skin is added, you are able to see and feel the raised vein under the surface of the skin. Each element needs to be fused onto the ring in such a way as to appear as part of the whole. Completing the project to this step gives us an idea of the problems that we will encounter in trying to finish the project.

As you may be able to see in the photo, even after accounting for the obvious differences in color and surface texture of the two elements, the item as a whole is not working. The 'skin', even if trimmed in a realistic way, looks too thin and unnatural, not mammalian. The skin needs to be a substantial organ with depth. This could be rectified by giving the wax a more prominent edge where the skin meets the exposed 'internals'. This deeper edge could serve as the creature's subcutaneous tissue. The exposed internal area of the creature will then have to be carved to a lower depth to account for the skin's thickness. This also means that the 'sutured areas' to be added to the ring will need to be more three-dimensional than originally planned.

A second problem is that the clearly defined skin makes the 'internal areas' look as they were carved out of a single piece of hard wax - a loss of continuity that ruins the overall effect - it is neither realistic or hideous, merely ugly and amateurish. The creatures exposed internals will need more clearly defined fragments - less shallow, vaguely-textured areas. Solving this problem, in addition to giving depth to the outer skin, on both the exterior and interior of the ring, may mean starting over with a thicker wax base. Time will tell. be continued, I hope...


Saturday, February 27, 2010

video of the day

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Today's video, 'Pirosbetüs Napok', (roughly translated 'Important Day'), is by an early 1980s rock band from Hungary that called themselves 'Trabant'. Forgive the quality of the video (adds to the mood, methinks), as 1980's Hungarian New Wave videos are as rare as... well... 1980's Hungarian New Wave videos.

Notably, Víg Mihály on guitars went on to collaborate with film director Bela Tarr.

Friday, February 26, 2010

it's alive!!!

*Dr J. lifts sheet from creature, and gasps. Creature lurches against it's shackles.*

Dr. J:...*Pause*...Doctor Gates, you must destroy this abomination at once, before it is too late.

Dr. G: You do not understand - it is now a living, breathing entity - it has shown intelligence and intent. I am not qualified to serve as it's executioner or champion - nature must decide the creature's fate.

*A faint moaning is heard from the operating table.*

Dr. J: Then Heaven help that poor creature...Heaven help us all.


journeys and ruins

I watched two short films from Alexander Sokurov this evening, "Elegy of a Voyage" and "Hubert Robert, A Fortunate Life".
(It is now technically morning, I suppose.)

These are precious films for me as I am no longer able to travel to museums - one of the few pleasures that once tempted me far from home.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

vine ring is done

OK, so I got the ring done. I have temporary molds in sizes 10ish - 12.5ish. My next task is to get permanent vulcanized molds for sizes 9 - 13.

This is my first men's ring design in a long, long time. The design is an old texture that I recently used for the back of 'garnet door' pendant. I expanded the old brick texture with vines on the back side of 'window and branches pendant'.

I believe the deep three dimensional surface will retain a measure of the dark patina when worn - depends on what the wearer does with their hands.

This ring was a test for designing more wearable wide bands. The inside of the ring is convex in shape. When measuring the ring, I allow the mandrel sizing mark to slip over the ring until it gets near the slightly bulging center of the ring, where the convex shape finally touches the mandrel. This makes the ring fit a person closer to the same size as a thinner band would fit. It also seems the be more comfortable to wear, thus the phrase 'comfort fit band' that some designers apply to this style of band.

The band seems to hold its convex shape when sized up 1.5 sizes. When sizing up beyond that point, there seems to be a noticeable flattening of the interior.

A size 11 weighs about 11 grams, nearly bang-on what I had in mind. After being remolded and recast, it will end up being about 10 grams. I think this will be my target weight for convex, wide band ring designs in the future.

I have mentally sketched and purchased the stones for an onyx orb ring that will use an insect/alien design similar to the upcoming mindworm pod pendant #2. I hope to get both these designs in the next pour, along with an 'industrial decay' bronzite bracelet.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Prehistoric times...

Cow 1: "In the future, super-intelligent creatures will use our udder liquid to enhance their warm beverages. They will suck the liquid out into giant vats using high-tech, metallic pumping devices."

Cow 2: "yeah, right"