Monday, July 23, 2012

Combining Clay with Bike Parts

I just unloaded a set of work from the kiln including some small under glazed pieces and some large bisques pieces. I can't attach the bike parts yet since everything still requires at least one more firing with glaze, but I can set them together to test shrinkage and fit. I was pretty close on my measurements for the most part and there are just a few bits I need to remake. 

This project is proving to be quite a different cognitive puzzle than I am used to. I would say the planning for one or two pieces is proving to be more difficult than all the work I did last summer. The challenge is to incorporate 25 bike parts--or, as I perceive them, colored metal forms that won't shrink--into my grey/white soft and shrinking clay. The pieces have to be "integrated" into the design concept before I finish the wet building and forming with the clay. If they are to fit precisely, I need to measure the metal pieces in the wet clay, but being accurate is a little tricky, since I am trying to fit round or irregular forms that will shrink around 10%. If I were mathematically inclined, I might actually calculate the percentage, but I've never been a big fan of precise measurements in clay. Even when I do measure, I have a terrible tendency to alter the surface after the measurement has been made. Then the altered surface is no longer whatever shape it started as. 

work in progress
After forming the wet clay, it needs to dry and be fired, both of which cause shrinkage. Last night, after I had finished the firing, but before I had opened and unloaded the kiln, I dreamt the main piece had blown up because the piece next to it was too wet. I always have things-exploding-in-the-kiln dreams, but this one was particularly scary considering how much planning and work had gone into it.

Speaking of math, proportionally, I feel like I have accomplished less this summer than last year at this time. I truly believe this is due, in part, to the bike parts and the new difficulties of working them into my pieces. I even had to draw myself a map/diagram of where the pieces were to go. The good news is my map seems decently accurate.

my sketch for the exterior and top/interior view of this form

Today, not entirely trusting the map, I pulled the piece out of the kiln and arranged the bike parts more or less how I planned them to be. Most of the pieces fit relatively well. I made a measurement error on an inset piece that was to hold something at the top interior bowl shape. This I can remake. I can't arrange all the pieces now because some need to defy gravity. (the yellow and red shiny circles will be spread around the large bottom bulbous shape.

you can see 10 bike parts. two rare invisible from this angle and several aren't arranged because of gravity

naked sculpture with a layout of (most of) the bike parts

I can easily account for 21 pieces on this form. I have a couple other plans that may or may not work well. I do plan to make at least one more version of the SRAM bike parts piece, so I will not attach my limited bike parts until both pieces have been fired and glazed. 

 two options for the attachments on this part of the sculpture. This part of the sculpture attaches to the larger form with a bike part as a hinge or joint

two options for the metal parts on this smaller form

I made a few other pieces that incorporate some bike parts. The pieces above were made just a bit before I had completed the bigger 25-piece plan. The piece below has gone through a first round underglaze firing. The bike part between the upper and lower forms does not fit as well as it should. This was my first attempt and I erred too small so the bike part is loose. The metal is also less well integrated on this first attempt

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