Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Fitting a new batch of fired work

I fired some more pieces this weekend, including the first base for a pitcher plant piece. The bike fork fits well into and onto the base. The short leg of the fork is damaged (thus it is short) and I may alter the base because of the metal is bent, but the changes aren't absolutely necessary.

bike fork in place (temporarily) on base

Unfortunately, the other area of the base, where I planned to anchor a bike part, appears to have warped or may have been measured incorrectly. I tested the fired fit with a different gear stack than the one I used originally, but I believe the interiors of this type of gear stack are all the same. The original gear stack is hiding in my messy studio somewhere.

gear held in place on wet clay

I can't tell from the wet clay pictures if I am holding the gear in place because it doesn't fit or because it is too heavy for the wet clay. The wet clay should shrink during drying and firing, allowing for about 10% reduction in the size of the piece after firing. A piece that almost fits wet should shrink to fit after firing, though I can't tell if that happened here.

different gear held in place on fired clay (because it won't fit)

The clay attachment is no longer perfectly round, an error I seem to be encountering with some regularity. The piece may have warped during drying or firing--or, again, I might have not accounted for shrinkage very well. Regardless, I should plan for less shrinkage on small elements like this in the future.

the broken bike fork pictured here illustrates my intent, even if I don't plan to use this particular part

I can proceed with the result of this particular error in several ways. If I absolutely want to maintain the original design, I could grind down the exterior of the clay attachment or the interior of the bike part to make up for the small size discrepancy. Or, I could put something inside the attachment which also goes inside the gear. This places the gear farther from the base itself, but still attached in a similar way to the original plan.

broken bike fork holding up the gear that wouldn't fit on its own

Another option is to revise the design, replacing the intended gear with a different, wider gear and a clay end cap. Or I could replace the gears with some other element all together. 

large end cap holding on larger gear

I could attach an old faucet handle

Of course, I don't have to make all these decisions quite yet. My plan is to build the bulk of the work early in my sabbatical, then glaze everything at once, and then put everything together after glazing. If I attach all the bike parts after all the clay parts have been made, I can trade some of the pieces between one sculpture and another. Though this approach is foreign to a pottery, it seems the most reasonable approach for this group of works. I expect to collect some more bike parts before the project is complete. I expect that I will get more of what I already have (more gears, more chains, more of certain small parts), which means I will be able to choose between similar parts later on and may find a slightly larger gear set or a slightly different fit.
one of the second batches of pitcher plants, testing fit on the bike fork

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