Posted on Leave a comment

Cow Manure Theft

I may have stolen manure today. I was told, several years ago, that I could come get some compost from the bio-digester energy company ‘anytime’.

By ‘several years ago’ I mean 2014. 

I didn’t take them up on it. A PTA member called them last year and had permission for the school to go get some, but then the school said they weren’t allowed to use it because it’s not a proper commercial product. But I thought ‘well they said we can have it – let’s go get some!’

Today we went. I couldn’t find anyone to ask/tell about what we were doing.

I went to the spot where, in 2014, they were dumping the finished compost and took some. But the pile was still heating up, which made me think that maybe this wasn’t the finished compost and was I maybe rooting around in their ‘stuff to go into the digester/sarlacc pit’ pile by mistake?

The ill-gotten compost
Posted on Leave a comment

France – Narbonne

France Trip – Summer 2018:  I need to learn to take photos of all my adventures, not just things that are pretty.  We arrived in Narbonne and had one day there before we were to head off up the Canal du Midi to Carcassonne. This was our best chance to be close to the Mediterranian, which I had never seen, so we drove out to visit the beach.

No photos from me because when we got there, there was a pretty brisk offshore wind that was blowing sand everywhere and I didn’t want to risk getting sand inside my lens/camera.  The beach was a long, shallow sand beach and the water was a perfect temperature.

The excitement happened on the way back – in a crowded intersection in Narbonne (when we’d made a wrong turn and we’re trying to get back on course using the GPS) we were hit in the right side passenger door by another car.  Yay! Rental Car! Our car had some dents in both doors but the other car.. the whole bumper fell off.

The other driver asked us to follow him, to his home, as it turned out, where we were invited inside and had the fun of filling out accident report forms, in French, with the help of his family none of whom spoke much English and we did not speak French.

We had some questions about WHY he had a stack of accident reports in his home and HOW his entire front bumper fell off (and he had a bunch of twine handy to tie it back on – had it already fallen off??) But he was so very friendly. It’s a bit of a mystery, but the insurance is sorting it out.

Once we finally made it back to the canal it was time to move onto our boat for a week of travel up river to Carcassonne.

Posted on 2 Comments

New Mexico

Back in the fall I took one day to make a loop through the Jemez.  This is a favorite day trip of mine and each time I get to see a little something new.  This time I took a side road up to see some tunnels through a steep pass that I’d never been out to see before.

Here’s a deep red mud puddle after a rain.

One of my favorite petroglyphs on part of Bandelier.

More petroglyphs

Friendly spider crossing the road

Albuquerque knows how to do sunsets

The color on this truck was amazing: no editing!

Fall colors in the Jemez

Final sunset with the city lights below

Mountains near the train tunnels

Posted on 2 Comments

Final word in 2018

Obviously just making horse HEADS wasn’t going to be enough so I made a wire frame and made a whole entire horse.

I don’t yet know how to do the fine details or smooth out the tool marks, but here it is. It’s about 6 inches tall. Once I had it made in modeling clay I realized that I don’t know how to cast this, even if I made a two part mold for two reasons. 1) the shape and 2) the only time I’ve done a two part mold I embedded the original in modeling clay to make the first half. This is made of modeling clay so what do I embed it in?

horse sculpture

And finally, for a year-end wrap up, I made a gallery page of the ‘best of’ 2018.

I never finished cleaning up or posting my photos from France – I still intend to do so.

I also did a few more test paints of the chess set. This is blue, with a metallic blue finish and the Warder has his shield, helmet and sword painted with an ‘interference’ paint – it will shimmer green or red depending on the angle of view.

It has been suggested that I’ve gone a bit off the rails since I went to New Mexico to learn how to make SOAP MOLDS and this is clearly not a soap mold. But I learned something very valuable: making custom molds is expensive and I should definitely do everything I can to avoid having to make custom ones from silicone!

I’ve been puzzling over the size and shape of conditioner bars. I now have a formula I really like but I still need to settle on the packaging and the shape. I think I’m going to try a round column mold – I might make out out of PVC with a teflon liner – and since PVC comes in all sizes I can probably find one to exactly fit the 2 or 4oz tins I’ve been thinking of using as packaging.

More soap to come in 2019

Posted on 1 Comment

Tiny horses

One thing leads to another. I went to New Mexico specifically to learn how to make SOAP molds, but somehow that led to an obsession with the Lewis Chessmen, and while thinking of things I might like to 3D print or cast in resin, I started thinking about chess sets in general. Also: my artist friend suggested that my 3D prints will be better if I have some experience with sculpture, even if I’m not very good.

So what should I sculpt? The absolute easiest thing for me is going to be horses. I drew only ONE thing as a child and it was horses 24/7.

I took some polymer clay I had sitting around and some j-mac oil-based modeling clay I was given and went at it.

I first made a few reclining ponies. They are quite small – so small that I had difficulty handling them. The first is made of j-mac and the smaller one of translucent polymer clay. I was thinking of making them into netsuke – these are carved buttons or toggles that are worn with kimono.

Next I started thinking about designing my own chess set and I spent a while looking at classic sets and some 3D printed models. Except for the knight, most chess pieces look like they are turned on a lathe, but the knight is special and asymmetric. For my very first try (back left in the collection) I went for something semi-realistic, but then I thought a much more stylized version might be fun. At the end I started going for something like an ancient bronze statue I’d seen before.

Something like this

When I took that basic shape and made it less flat, I think my result looks more like a sea serpent with a mane, but I still like it.

The polymer clay is easy to smooth and overall easy to work with but it is difficult to get fine detail. The j-mac takes detail but I haven’t yet figure out how to get my toolmarks and fingerprints off the model. I also need to figure out how to stop dropping them while i’m working.

Posted on Leave a comment

Lewis Chessmen

While learning how to make molds I became accidentally obsessed with the Lewis Chessmen.  We saw them first two years ago on our trip to Scotland and I tried to 3-D print one to make a test mold out of when I went to NM.  The 3-D print wasn’t detailed enough and soon after I discovered that I could purchase pre-made molds.  They are latex, not especially durable, and  I’m a bit afraid to cast resin in them.  I ruined one already by trying to cast wax into it and then couldn’t get the wax back out again. 

The originals are from the 12C and were discovered on the Island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.  There are 78 chess pieces in total.

Some of the original chessmen in Edinburgh.  
A bishop.  One of my molds includes this particular figure.
A berzerker.  This would take the place of a Rook.  I LOVE him.  Alas, he is not included in my set of molds.
The sets were originally white (walrus ivory) and red (paint).  I’m tryint to re-create that original look.
Playing around some more with warmer/cooler casts and one silver-on-black just to see how it looks.

Posted on Leave a comment

Mold Making

Last week I went to visit a friend in Albuquerque and pick his brain about how to make molds for soap and resin casting.  There was a LOT of information all at once and I’m still organizing it in my mind.  Here are some of the photos I took during the workshop.

I have workshop envy

This is the shop where he makes his molds.  Lately he’s been moving more into metal casting than resin, and one March (this year or next) I may come to a metal-casting workshop.  In the back notice the very large mold of the very, very large horny-toad.  I loved that sculpture.  On the back wall there is also a nice mold of the classic archaeopteryx fossil.  I would have taken a casting of that if I’d had space for it in my luggage.  As it was, I barely fit the molds I made myself plus the LARGE quantity of hot green chili I brought back.

 

 

 

 

 

Platsil 73-25 2-part mold silicone. And Nathan’s cool tray to allow it to pour more easily.

Vacuum de-gasser. We only used this once but I think it did reduce bubbles in the silicone

Some molds poured, other forms waiting to be set up.

Shapes glued down and ready for the mold form to go around it. I used cups or PVC for the round ones and foam-core board and hot glue for the rectangular one.

Lizard on a bed of clay ready for mold material to be painted on. This will be a 2-part mold.

 

 

Completed molds are trimmed and dusted with talc so they don’t pick up dust and dog hair.

Nathans epic $100 variable temperature glue gun. The glue sticks are a foot long and 1cm wide.

 

Completed chess mold after the 3D printed original was removed.

Heating wax to pour a shape that can be sculpted more

The final array. Everything I brought back with me: molds, originals, casts in resin, wax and plaster, extra wax and some new sculpting tools.

Posted on Leave a comment

3-D printing

I’m getting ready to make some silicone molds for soaps and here are my first prototypes for the designs I want to use.  A trilobite, a ‘white lotus’ from Avatar the Last Airbender and the BAT SIGNAL.  The last one is because I’ve really wanted to make a menthol-peppermint soap and call it “HOLY MENTHOL, BATMAN!!”

 

Trilobite (Girl Genius) and White Lotus (Avatar: the Last Airbender)

Trilobite on a plaster cast of a 4oz round soap.

The bat signal!