Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Beginning to Epoxy (like glue)

Finally, I have some glazed work out of the kiln and I have begun to attach bike parts. I was beginning to worry about my impending deadline (things are supposed to be shipped next week) and was starting to have trouble sleeping. (Usually at this time of year I have bad dreams about forgetting to write my syllabi for the first day of class. I haven't even started thinking about syllabi yet because of the incomplete bike parts project.)

Today I loaded what I hope to be the penultimate glaze firing for the bike parts project. Immediately after I unload tomorrow morning, I should be able to load and fire the last batch, most of which are already glazed. The only sticky point is that I have one piece in the kiln today which needs to be glazed and reloaded for this project. I hope to finish it early tomorrow morning so I can load it tomorrow and have that be the last firing for this batch of work.

wiping off a layer of underglaze on my largest bike part sculpture
This morning after my daughter helped me unload the kiln (She likes to take out the small pieces. I can tell which pieces she likes best because she picks them up first; she usually grabs the shiny glazed pieces first), I finished glazing my largest SRAM bike part piece and loaded the kiln again.

this is what happens when you give the kid the iPhone to take a picture
This biggest piece takes up most of the kiln, so I didn't have much room for the rest of the pieces which were ready, though I had to fit in a piece that was just bisque fired yesterday. This piece requires two firings and some epoxy, so there is no time to lose. The piece is a support that I created late in the summer for the original bike part piece.

chartreuse underglaze layered over red shell sprigs. the chartreuse was wiped away after this photo
After I loaded the kiln, I finished underglaze layers and glaze overspray for the first bike part piece and sprayed glaze on some other small parts and mini-sculptures that have been waiting for glaze since early in the summer. Currently all the bike part pieces save the aforementioned support have been glazed and are either in the kiln or waiting to get into the kiln tomorrow. I have a significant amount of unfinished work in the studio but at less than a week before the work needs to be shipped and just over a week until fall quarter classes begin, I can't spend time on these pieces yet.

silver SRAM bike part epoxied to ceramic form
After a run to school to pick up my long neglected Dremel tool (I rarely use it during the year and students always ask to borrow it), I was able to start epoxying my gear bike part sculpture together. The silver "support" was the first one I attached to the base of the sculpture. I needed the Dremel to mitigate my measuring and shrinkage errors. Hopefully there won't be too many of these errors to contend with. 

epoxy on second layer of gear sculpture

This gear sculpture was designed in sections that are interspersed with bike gears. I used a large batch of PC-7 epoxy to fill in the interior space of the first gear. (PC-7 was hard to find this week. I had some at home already, but went to Home Depot and Lowe's to supplement my supply. I've purchased PC-7 there in the past, but apparently Yakima/Union Gap is too small an epoxy market for this stuff. When I asked a Home Depot employee for epoxy, she asked if I meant glue. She'd never heard of PC-7 nor had anyone else at the store. The Lowe's guy seemed confused by the idea that epoxy might come in a form other than liquid or putty. Ace, however, is the place.)

thick layer of epoxy paste on second layer, gear on third layer ready to attach

PC-7 is a black epoxy paste. I believe it is recommended for car engine repair. It goes on thick and doesn't really move while it dries, though it takes about 24 hours to set firm. I put a layer around the interior seam of the sculpture form and then put the two pieces together with the gear in between. The gear squished into place on the epoxy. Then I removed the top part of the ceramic piece and filled in more epoxy paste before reattaching the ceramic top with more epoxy. One of the ceramic forms has a hole, the other has a tube that fits in the hole to help keep the two parts together and keep the gear in place. This may have been unnecessary engineering on my part but it adds some stability during this stage of the process.

two gears and two ceramic forms
Though I have the first three sections of this form out of the kiln, I decided to let the first and second sections set together while the third has only the gear on top. I was concerned the weight of the third section might shift the alignment of the seam below. It probably wouldn't but if it does, I'm stuck (epoxy humor).

metal bike part with red thrown ceramic form (behind are others waiting to compete with similar parts in the kiln for the best fit)

I had a few other small parts to epoxy together but I tried Goop glue. I usually use two-part 5-minute epoxy for small attachments with more visible seams, but I was curious whether the Goop glue was better. I tried it on one SRAM part that attaches to a round red clay part and will also attach to the largest bike part sculpture. I only tried one of these with Goop but I think I don't like it. I will wait to mix up the 5 minute epoxy until I have more parts out of the kiln tomorrow.

At this point I think I should be able to get most of the work done this week. Next week I can take "slides" and have the work shipped by the middle of the week. I am making three bike-part pieces, even though only one is required by the project. All along I have been expecting (or maybe just worried about) trouble. I have been working on three pieces so that one will be left if there is a catastrophe (or two). Now I am starting to think about ease of shipping instead. 

It will also be strange, after spending so much time with these pieces this summer, so send one away so quickly after it is completed. We will barely have any quality time to enjoy each other's company as fully realized objects.

If you are interested in seeing previous SRAM bike projects by other artists, click this link.

Did you know you can now comment on my blog without signing-in? Tell me what you think. (Do you also anticipate impending catastrophe?)

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