Thursday, January 29, 2015

Latest Gear Stack Piece

Next week my show, Mechanical Botanicals, opens at CORE Gallery in Seattle. Since this week is the last chance I have to finish work before installing this weekend, I am trying to finish a few pieces.

the new gear stack piece after bisque firing, unstacked (left) and a gear stack piece from my sabbatical

This past summer I started a new gear piece similar to some I had done during my sabbatical. I wanted to create as similar form but with a more complex base. My sculptures are inspired by plants and flowers, so I wanted to reference a stem branching or splitting from the central form.

a gear stack piece from my sabbatical

Like the earlier gear pieces, I built this form in sections, planning for gears to nestle and attach between the different ceramic segments of the sculpture.

part of the new gear stack piece after glaze firing
During the summer I built and fired the work. I started applying underglaze in the summer but wasn't ready to put the forms together until this month. Last week I started epoxying together the gears and ceramic parts.

tape holding the top on the split bulb

I used tape and armatures to help support the forms while the epoxy was setting.

a towel and box acting as an armature to support the end bulb and gear while the epoxy sets

Unfortunately, it wasn't until the entire piece was put together that I realized the unfortunately angle, placement and proportion of the smaller branching form. I am also disappointed in how straight the top section is. I may have put together the top form or forms incorrectly, but it's hard to recall what the entire form looked like, since it was hard to take pictures while also holding up the wet pieces.

The new sculpture, mostly complete

One innovation in this piece was splitting one of my bulb forms near the base so that the gear could fit inside it. The plan was good but the smaller segment warped during drying or firing and now the curve is a little more narrow and taller than the area where it needs to attach.

two sections of the split bulb, with epoxy

I used epoxy putty to fill in the seam of the two bulb pieces and painted over it. The paint color is a close match, but there are some visible brush strokes because the paint was a little thick when I applied it.

epoxy putty roughed into place

This sculpture is close to "finished," needing only another coat of paint and some gloss varnish to complete the bulb patching. However, I haven't decided if I want to include the piece in next week's show, since it didn't work out quite how I planned.

the bulb with the patched seam

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